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Putnina, Houston Sign National Letters Of Intent For 2006-07

Nov 9, 2005

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BOULDER -- Whitney Houston and Aija Putnina have signed National Letters of Intent to play basketball and continue their education at the University of Colorado in 2006-07, CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller announced Wednesday.


Putnina, a 6-foot-3 forward, is a native of Riga, Latvia, and currently attending Regis High School in Aurora, Colo., as an exchange student. Since foreign exchange students in Colorado are allowed only one season of varsity competition, Putnina will play her first season of varsity ball for Regis this winter after playing junior varsity in 2004-05. This past August, she led Latvia to a third place finish at the FIBA U18 European Championship averaging 11.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.5 blocks in the eight-game tournament. Putnina led Latvia in nearly every statistical category at the championship and ranked third in blocks and fifth in rebounds for the entire tournament field. She scored in double-digits in five games including a 26-point performance in Latvia's 97-52 win over Iceland, tying for the sixth-best total for the tournament.  Putnina is ranked as the No. 14 forward, and No. 78 player overall, in the All-Star Girls Report. She averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds per game for Latvia at the 2004 U16 European Championships and was the tournament's fourth-highest scorer.


"Aija is an incredible player that will make an immediate impact on our program," McConnell-Miller said. "She brings great maturity and leadership to our team. She was our number one priority from the day I became the head coach at Colorado. Aija is as versatile a player as we will have in our program. She is the type of player that immediately makes everyone on the floor better! Aija comes from a great High School (Regis) and AAU program (Mile Hi Magic). (Regis) Coach Carl Mattei does a great job with his players and preparing them for Division I competition.  With her international experience she has competed against the best in the world."


Houston, a 5-8 point guard from Memphis, Tenn., averaged 17 points, nine assists and three steals per game in her junior season at Hillcrest High School. She led the Lady Vikings to a 29-6 overall record and the District 16-AA and Region 8-AA titles. Houston was named to the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Best of the Preps/All-Metro Class A-AA team as a sophomore and junior and was one of five finalists for the overall girls basketball Best of the Preps award last winter. Ranked as the No. 62 point guard in the country by All-Star Girls Report, Houston is an all-district, all-regional and an honorable mention all-state pick. Houston is also ranked as the No. 5 overall senior prep in Memphis by


"Whitney Houston fills an immediate need for our program," McConnell-Miller said. "She is a point guard that has a strong command of the position and has a great understanding of the game. Her ability to lead a team and control tempo is precisely what we were looking for. Her athleticism and ability to create on the floor will allow us to play up tempo.  Whitney is an exciting player and fun to watch."


The NCAA early signing period, which began Wednesday, runs through Tuesday, Nov. 15.


Colorado will play its second of two exhibition games on Friday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. against Regis University in the Coors Events/Conference Center. The Buffaloes open regular season action on Friday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m. against Cal State-Fullerton in the CECC.