Women’s Basketball Announces Four Transfer Signees
LOS ANGELES – The UCLA Women's Basketball program announced Saturday the signings of four student-athletes for the upcoming 2021-22 season. Joining the Bruins via transfer this season will be guards Gina Conti and Jaelynn Penn, as well as forwards Angela Dugalic and IImar'I Thomas.
The group of transfers will join a UCLA squad that returns All-Pac-12 guard Charisma Osborne, All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention Natalie Chou, Pac-12 All-Freshman honoree Emily Bessoir, redshirt senior Chantel Horvat, junior Camryn Brown, and redshirt freshman Dominique Onu. Kiara Jefferson and Kayla Owens have also returned to the program after opting out of the 2020-21 season. Brynn Masikewich spent the 2020-21 season rehabbing an injury and has since returned to Los Angeles.
The Michael Price Family UCLA Women's Head Basketball Coach Cori Close offered her thoughts on how the team is expected compete at an elite level with the new additions.
"On paper, I think this could be one of the most talented teams I've had since I've been here," said Close. "To the extent that they are willing to sacrifice individually for the productivity and the goals of the group, I think the sky is the limit with this group. We have depth in the backcourt. We have depth in the frontcourt. We have different ways we can play and attack. We're always going to play up-tempo. We're always going to start on the defensive end of the floor and try and create stops and let that be our anchor, but I'm really excited about how we can grow in our efficiency and our versatility on the offensive end, as well."
Gina Conti – Guard – Grove City, Ohio – Wake Forest
Graduate transfer Gina Conti joins the UCLA backcourt after a four-year stint with Wake Forest that saw her start each of her 86 games across her final three seasons. She compiled 1,037 points in her Demon Deacon career and put up a career-high 13.8 points per contest as a senior this past season. The floor general also finished her career with 494 assists. Impressively, Conti managed to increase her field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, and free throw percentage in each of her four seasons at Wake Forest. Conti helped lead the Deamon Deacons to the NCAA Tournament this past season and earned Second Team All-ACC honors. The Grove City, Ohio native scored in double figures in 16 games as a senior, including a 29-point performance against Notre Dame on Jan. 14.
Coach Close on Gina Conti: "Gina is the quarterback kind of point guard that we absolutely needed, especially with the completion of Lindsey Corsaro's career. She's a pass-first kind of point guard, but she can absolutely score the ball. She attacks and gets downhill. She can step behind the ball screen and knock it down. But the way that she facilitates and makes everyone around her better – that's what made her one of the most sought-after point guards in the country."
Jaelynn Penn – Guard – Louisville, Ky. – Indiana
Versatile wing Jaelynn Penn arrives in Westwood after a four-year career at Indiana that saw her start 113 of her 114 games. She scored in each of her first three seasons as a Hoosier and was putting up 9.5 points after 11 games as a senior before opting out of the rest of the season. Despite not playing a full senior year, she totaled 1,319 points and 504 rebounds across her career. Penn already has history with UCLA, as she hit a game-winning triple against the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion on Dec. 2, 2018 to give the Hoosiers a 67-65 victory. Penn earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors following the 2018-19 season. She averaged a career-high 13.9 points per game in her sophomore campaign. The Louisville, Ky., native secured Academic All-Big Ten accolades following the 2020-21 season.
Coach Close on Jaelynn Penn: "Jaelynn is an elite wing scorer. She can attack off the bounce. She's a good three-point shooter. She can lock up on the defensive end. She's got a high basketball IQ. She loves the game. Jaelynn Penn understands the mission of our program. She not only wants to help us in between the lines, but she also really loves our family atmosphere. She really loves that we're going to help prepare her for when the ball goes flat, that we're going to invest in her from the inside out."
Angela Dugalić – Forward – Des Plaines, Ill. – Oregon
Angela Dugalić is UCLA's lone Pac-12 transfer of the class, as the forward arrives in Westwood following her freshman season at the University of Oregon. In her lone season in Eugene, Dugalić put up 3.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game. She notched a pair of double-digit scoring performances last year, including a 13-point outing against the Bruins on Jan. 3. Dugalić also compiled 10 games with at least five rebounds, including three performances with nine boards. The Des Plaines, Ill., native was the No. 22 recruit on the 2020 HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings. She competes internationally for Serbia.
Coach Close on Angela Dugalic: "Angela is a really versatile three/four kind of player. A stretch four. She's getting great international experience right now with the Serbian National Team. She can attack off the bounce. She's got a great mid-range shooting game and is really good with her back to the basket. She's aggressive and rebounds out of her area. I'm really excited for her to join our program and I think she's going to add so much aggression, versatility, and ability to affect plays on both ends of the court."
IImar'I Thomas – Forward – Oakland, Calif. – Cincinnati
IIma'I Thomas joins the UCLA roster after a brilliant career at Cincinnati, one that saw her become the first player in program history to compile over 1,900 points and 800 rebounds. She is the Bearcats' all-time leader in field goal percentage (.581) and scored the third-most points (1,925) in program history. Her senior season was prolific, as she averaged 23.7 points per contest en route to AAC Player of the Year honors. She notched six games with at least 30 points on the year, including a sensational 51-point outing against East Carolina on Feb. 24, good for the highest single-game point total by any player in the NCAA last season. Thomas and the legendary Oscar Robertson are the only Bearcats to have ever scored over 50 points in a single game. Thomas is also the only player in program history to earn First-Team All-AAC accolades in three separate seasons, earning honors her final three years after winning the AAC Freshman of the Year Award in 2018.
Coach Close on IImar'I Thomas: "IImar'I is a bucket-getter. Very few college players in the country can say they've scored over 50 points in a game. She scores in every different kind of way. Some players just have a way of putting the ball in the basket, and that's IImar'I Thomas. I think she will be a major player in our versatile style of play. She's very focused on helping us win a championship, but also getting herself ready to become a pro."