Women's Basketball Signs Five in Early Period

Nov. 11, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. - Arizona State has signed five student-athletes to study and play women's basketball for the Sun Devils beginning in 2005-06, ninth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne announced Wednesday.

ASU's signees include Kate Engelbrecht of Tucson, Ariz., Briann January of Spokane, Wash., Cristina Lopez of Santa Ana, Calif., Danielle Orsillo of Oroville, Calif., and Kirsten Thompson of Monroe, Wash.

'We have decided to name this class 'The Incredibles.' They are that and then some,' Turner Thorne said. 'They may possibly be the most talented 2005 class in the country. They are incredibly gifted players and incredibly special people, and they will undoubtedly provide heroic feats early in their ASU careers.'

A 5-10 guard from Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson, Engelbrecht has been named her team's Most Valuable Player in each of the last three years after leading the squad in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, blocks and shooting percentage each season. A second-team 4A all-state honoree and a first-team Tucson Daily Star All-Southern Arizona selection last year, she led the Falcons to their third consecutive Kino Region title and third straight appearance in the Arizona state high school championships. Engelbrecht averaged 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 5.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per game last season in addition to shooting 62 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range. She won the 2004 4A Grand Canyon State Three-Point Shootout at America West Arena and is also a starting opposite hitter on the Catalina Foothills volleyball team, a semifinalist in the 2003 state championships. She also played club basketball for the Arizona Lady Stars, leading the team in scoring and assists and earning all-tournament honors at the End of The Trail tournament in Oregon City, Ore.

'Kate could not be a more perfect fit for our program. She is not only a smart, hard-working, extremely athletic and skilled player, but she is also an outstanding person,' Turner Thorne said. 'The most impressive part of Kate's well-rounded game is how good she is without the ball in her hands. This is not a facet of the game many young players grasp, and she reads and sets things up as well as anybody I have coached. I simply cannot wait to coach Kate.'

'What makes Kate the best is the person that she is. She is a phenomenal basketball player, but she is an awesome person in general,' said Catalina Foothills head coach Laura Siemons. 'That is going to make her successful at the next level. She is there for her team day in and day out and will do whatever she can to help them accomplish their team goals. Kate is an unselfish, hard-working young lady.'

'Kate is one of the most complete basketball players that I have ever been around. She has the unique ability to elevate her game to new heights,' Arizona Lady Stars head coach Ray Kim said. 'She has a deadly perimeter game to compliment her driving abilities. Her court vision is second to none. Kate is one of the hardest-working athletes that I have ever had the privilege to coach. Competitive and loyal are two words that I can most associate with Kate Engelbrecht.'

Considered one of the top point guards in the country, the 5-8 January comes to ASU from Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Wash. She averaged 10 points and eight assists per game as a junior last season and was named to the BCI All-America team in 2002. A three-time team MVP and team captain, she has earned first-team All-Greater Spokane League honors in each of the last three seasons. A two-time first-team All-Inland Empire selection, January has led her team in assists in each of the last three years. She also played club basketball for the Spokane Stars, coached by Ron Adams, and earned Most Valuable Player honors at the End of the Oregon Trail tournament in 2003 and 2004.

'In my opinion, Briann is the best point guard in the country in the 2005 class,' Turner Thorne said. 'She is as fast with the ball as any player I have seen and she is an exceptional decision-maker. While she would rather create for her teammates, she is a remarkably complete scorer. Briann can hit the three, beat you with her midrange game and get to the rim against the best of defenses. She controls the game on both ends of the floor and absolutely will be able to defend the best guards that college basketball has to offer. Finally, Briann has the poise and savvy to run a team at any level.'

'Briann is obviously a kid I will never get to coach again from a talent standpoint. It is going to be neat to see her grow and develop. She is my eyes on the court and always has been,' said Lewis and Clark head coach Jim Redmon. 'Briann can adjust and reads the floor so well and continues to get better and better. She makes the right decisions and gets the ball in to the right player at the right time. She is invaluable in how much she knows the game and at the next level, she will continue to grow with that.'

Lopez is a 6-0 guard/forward from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. She is a two-time all-state selection and a two-time All-C.I.F. honoree. Lopez averaged 14.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last year en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of her league. She also earned first-team All-Orange County honors last year as a junior after earning second-team accolades in both 2002 and 2003.

'Cristina has been coached by several of the best coaches in the country at the high school and club level, and it shows,' Turner Thorne said. 'Her basketball IQ is exceptional as are her fundamentals. As a strong, versatile small forward, Cristina is going to create a lot of match-up headaches for our opponents throughout her career. She consistently does a lot of the little things that do not necessarily show up on the stat sheet as well as the big things that do.'

'The two things that stand out about Cristina are her leadership ability and her versatility,' said Mater Dei head coach Geri Campeau. 'She plays every position and does whatever she needs to do to help us be successful as a team. I think that is a tribute to her leadership ability. She is tremendous facing the basketball but even better at controlling the middle. Her versatility is what sets her apart and why ASU likes her so much.'

A 5-9 guard from Las Plumas High School in Oroville, Calif., Orsillo led the state of California in scoring last season with 35.7 points per game. A second-team all-state selection, she was named the Most Valuable Player of the Westside League for the second straight season and earned Northern Section MVP honors. In addition to breaking her own section single-season scoring record (1,072 points) and the section career scoring mark (2,420 points), Orsillo also averaged seven rebounds, almost five steals and four assists per game as a junior. She holds 11 spots on the state list for single-game scoring (38 points and above) with a career high of 49 points. Orsillo has also lettered in volleyball, where she was an all-league selection as a sophomore, and track, where she has won two league high jump titles and set school records in the hurdles, high jump and 100 meters.

'In my book, any player who leads the state of California in scoring as a junior is truly one of the best scorers in the country,' Turner Thorne said. 'However, Danielle is much more than just a prolific scorer. She excels as a passer and defender and has tremendous instincts for the game. She will blend instantly as a selfless basketball player and exceptional person on our team. Danielle will be fun to watch.'

'Danielle is going to bring leadership to ASU on and off the court. She has a good head on her shoulders,' Las Plumas head coach Lael Schneider said. 'As a high school coach, she has helped me in seeing the court, which she does better than most players. Danielle knows what is needed then and there on the court. Most of her shots she creates for herself. She's just such an amazing athlete. She makes the other players on her team better and gives them confidence.'

Tabbed one of the top 10 players and one of the top five centers in the country by most scouting services, Thompson is a 6-6 center out of Monroe High School in Monroe, Wash. A 2003 and 2004 Adidas Top 10 All-American, she averaged 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks per game last season. Thompson earned first-team all-league and all-area honors last year and was a member of the five-player Seattle Times 'Star Times' and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer All-Star teams. A second-team all-state selection last year, she was a 2004 preseason Street and Smith All-American (fourth team) and was a semifinalist for the USA Basketball Junior National Team Trials this summer. Thompson also played the gold medal-winning team at the 2004 USA Basketball Women's Youth Development Festival.

'I have never in my 20-plus years in college basketball seen a player of Kirsten's size with her skill level,' Turner Thorne said. 'At 6-6, she not only has refined post moves, she can pass like a guard and shoot the three. She is comparable to a young Lauren Jackson, but she has more size. We could not be more excited to be adding the best center in the country to our roster. In addition to her amazing talent and skill, Kirsten is about as passionate about the game as any player you will meet. Equally impressive off the court, she is a mature and self-assured young lady.'

'Being 6-6, Kirsten is pretty much going to play a lot anyway, but she works as hard as any player on our team, and that speaks a lot for her,' said Monroe head coach Alan Dickson. 'I think the sky is the limit for Kirsten because she is mobile and pushes herself down the court. She is able to run the court and plays 100 percent at both ends of the floor. That is what impresses me about Kirsten. She always works as hard as any player on our team and sets a good tone for her teammates.'

ARIZONA STATE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL SIGNEESName	Ht.	Pos.	Hometown/SchoolKate Engelbrecht	5-10	G	Tucson, Ariz./Catalina Foothills HSBriann January	5-8	G	Spokane, Wash./Lewis & Clark HSCristina Lopez	6-0	G/F	Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei HSDanielle Orsillo	5-9	G	Oroville, Calif./Las Plumas HSKirsten Thompson	6-6	C	Monroe, Wash./Monroe HS