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Women’s Basketball Signs Elite Recruiting Class

Nov 11, 2021

LOS ANGELES – UCLA Women's Basketball has signed five elite recruits that make up what is believed to be the nation's top-ranked recruiting class. The Bruins have inked Kiki Rice, Gabriela Jaquez, Londynn Jones, Christeen Iwuala, and Lina Sontag to national letters of intent.
 
"I think this has got to be one of the best classes recruited in UCLA Women's Basketball history," said The Michael Price Family UCLA Women's Head Basketball Coach Cori Close. I mean, Jordin Canada, Monique Billings, that class was number one as well, so you have to put it at that, but you look at the depth of the class, how many people are in the class, the differentiation – I just think it's an extremely strong class. We haven't won a championship, we haven't been to the Final Four yet, and this class really wants to take the baton from the great foundation that has been laid, and take us to become a consistent championship contender. That's what they have come to do at UCLA and they want to represent this great institution in that way. They definitely have a championship mindset, and I look forward to seeing the development of championship habits.
 
UCLA Women's Basketball Incoming Freshmen
 
Kiki Rice – 5-11 Guard – Bethesda, Md. (Sidwell Friends School)
Rice is the top-ranked guard in the country and the No. 2 player on ESPN recruiting board. She becomes the highest-ranked player to sign with the Bruins, surpassing Jordin Canada, who was the No. 4 recruit in the nation in 2014. Rice is a two-time gold medalist with USA Basketball and earned District of Columbia Player of the Year honors in both basketball and soccer. She averaged 18.8 points per game at the Nike Girls EYBL this past July and has put up 23.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 5.6 assists across her career at Sidwell Friends School. Rice's parents were both student-athletes at Yale and she is cousins with former NBA star Allan Houston.
 
Coach Close on Rice: "Kiki Rice, she is sort of Chris Paul-ish in terms of how she controls a game. She's an incredibly cerebral point guard, she can play on the ball and off the ball, but what I love is she is an incredible student of the game. She is so committed to mastering her craft. There is a reason she was ranked the number one guard in her class. I just think she's the perfect complement to the other guards we have. She'll be a phenomenal floor general, she'll be a dynamic creator, and she'll also be an elite leader."
 
Gabriela Jaquez – 6-0 – Forward – Camarillo, Calif. (Camarillo HS)
Jaquez checks in at No. 19 in ESPN's recruiting rankings and has been one of the nation's steady risers in the ranks. Across 67-career games for Camarillo High School, Jaquez has stuffed the stat sheet, putting up 19.4 points and 12.0 rebounds. Her most recent junior season was particularly impressive, as the local product notched 31.7 points and 14.8 rebounds per game. She scored an impressive 52 points in the team's season finale against Bishop Montgomery on May. 29. The last name should be familiar to UCLA fans, as her brother is Jaime Jaquez Jr., star for UCLA Men's Basketball.
 
Coach Close on Jaquez: "She's the player that is the hardest to describe, but maybe makes the biggest impact. She was MVP of the EYBL Nike Nationals and she did it with grit, hustle, rebounds, and defensive plays. Yes, she was a scorer, but those came off of 'whatever you need me to do coach, I'll do because I want to make winning plays. I want to work harder than anybody else, I want to do whatever it takes'. And I would say she comes by that, honestly, in her family."
 
Londynn Jones – 5-5 – Guard – Riverside, Calif. (Santiago HS)
Jones checks in at the No. 22 spot in the country and the 10th-ranked guard. She won a gold medal with USA Basketball at the U16 World Cup, averaging 11.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per contest in the tournament. Jones is the second local product in the class and boasts great elusiveness from the point guard spot. She was named the LA Athletic Club John R. Wooden CIF Southern Section Division III Player of the Year in 2019.
 
Coach Close on Jones: "Londynn is dynamic. She is an elite scorer, she's quick, she's a fighter, and what she lacks in size she makes up for in might. What I love about her is she understands the pride in being a Bruin, and she will settle for nothing less than winning a championship, and she is bold enough and courageous enough to dream big and say, 'I want to win multiple championships and I want to go to a place where I can do that'. She's also willing to work bigger to back it up."
 
Christeen Iwuala – 6-3 – Post – San Antonio, Texas (Ronald Regan HS)
UCLA's fifth top-50 prospect in the class, Iwuala brings great versatility as a 6-3 forward. Iwuala was recently the No. 70 prospect in the nation and has risen through the ranks to No. 49. She has compiled over 1,000-career points for Ronald Regan HS and provides versatility on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.
 
Coach Close on Iwuala: "Christeen is one of those big-time post players that you don't get to see develop very often. She is strong, big, and tall, but she also has amazingly quick feet. The sky is the limit for Christeen and she is just discovering how impactful she can be on both sides of the ball. She can switch out on smaller guards, even at her size. Her ability to rebound and be a rim protector. She is so dynamic in space, too; it catches you off guard. She literally has limitless potential."
 
Lina Sontag – 6-4 – Post – Kleinmachnow, Germany (Schadow Gymnasium)
Sontag follows in the footsteps of UCLA's other recent international signings, including fellow German international Emily Bessoir and Australian native Izzy Anstey. Sontag plays overseas for Freiburg in Germany. She has played for the German U19 team and averaged 7.3 points and 4.7 rebounds at the 2019 U16 Women's European Championship.
 
Coach Close on Sontag: "When Lina committed to us, I got calls from two WNBA coaches saying we think she is going to be the next Satou Sabally. She's a tall, versatile swing player. She's a great passer, which I think is one of the lost arts of our game. She makes everyone around her better. She was greatly described as sweet as pie off the court and beastly on the court, and I think that's a pretty good combination."