Buffs Loading up for 2023-24
BOULDER – Head coach JR Payne and the Colorado Buffaloes have had a pretty good first week. The team opened the 2022-23 season with an 85-55 win over New Mexico State on Monday and then announced an incoming class of five for the 2023-24 season on Wednesday.
The new additions include Kennedy Sanders (Chaska, Minn.), Ruthie Loomis-Goltl (Bridgeport, Neb.), Jadyn Atchison (Cedar Hill, Texas), Lele Tanuvasa (Eureka, Calif.) and Mikayla Johnson (Anchorage, Alaska).
"We are unbelievably excited about this year's signees," Payne said of the group. "Their combination of talent and high character will be a great addition to our program. I believe that they will compete early and often. I love that we were able to find such high-character young women who fit our culture and will help us continue to elevate our success."
Sanders, a 5-8 guard, from Chaska, Minn., comes to Boulder with a four-star ranking by ESPNW. Sanders helped her team with the 4A state championship as a sophomore as Chaska finished ranked No. 6 in the country by ESPNW with an 18-0 record. She is a three-time First Team Metro West All-Conference selection and was honorable mention as an eighth grader. Sanders broke Chaska's single-season assist record as a freshman, handing out 153 helpers. She is also fourth all-time in scoring, surpassing 1,000 career points last season. Sanders is also stout defensively as a three-time Metro West All-Defensive team selection. She's a two-time team captain and a three-time academic letter-winner. She is also a three-time state champion with her club team, the Minnesota Fury.
"Kennedy is an incredible point guard who can score on all three levels at a very high clip," Payne described. "She is terrific defensively with cat-quick hands and is completely fearless at the point guard position."
Loomis-Goltl, a 6-3 post player, hails from Bridgeport, Neb. She's a four-time letterwinner at Bridgeport High School who has averaged more than 15.0 points per game in each of her three seasons. Loomis-Goltl is a three-time Western Trails All-Conference selection and won back-to-back league MVPs in her sophomore and junior seasons. She was an All-State First Team Super State Basketball last season, averaging 20.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game. Loomis Goltl was MaxPreps Nebraska Freshman Player of the Year and was the Omaha World-Herald High School Athlete of the Year finalist in 2022. She is ranked a four-star recruit by ESPNW who also runs track and plays volleyball. She spent one year playing club for the Northern Colorado Triple Threat.
"Ruthie is a multi-sport athlete who will bring a tremendous amount of athleticism to the post position," Payne noted. "She will be a great player for us inside. Ruthie can run the floor and rebound with anyone and I believe she has tremendous upside."
Atchison is a 6-1 guard out of Cedar Hill, Texas. She is a four-year varsity player for the Lady Longhorns, helping Cedar Hill reach the Regional Final in 2020. Atchison is a two-time First Team All-District selection. Atchison averaged 12.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.5 steals per game last season.
"Jadyn reminds me so much of Mya Hollingshed but at the guard position," Payne noted. "She is incredibly long, athletic and smooth. Jadyn loves the game of basketball and is willing to put in the work to be great. She is as competitive as they come and I know will be a great player for us."
Tanuvasa is a 6-0 guard from St. Mary's Stockton High School in Eureka, Calif. She's a three-time letterwinner who averaged 27.4 points per game in her junior season. She has twice helped St. Mary's to a conference championship in her freshman and sophomore seasons. Tanuvasa was a Second-Team All-Conference selection in 2022 to go with being the Humbolt Del Norte League MVP and the Humboldt Female Athlete of the Year. She's also a three-time letterwinner in volleyball and played club basketball for West Coast Elite.
"Lele can flat-out score the ball from multiple positions on the floor," Payne exclaimed. "She fits our style very well – in that she is tough, gritty and very aggressive on the offensive side of the floor. Lele can play all three guard positions and will be a great addition to our backcourt."
Johnson will become just the second player to join the program out of the state of Alaska, joining Karen Wilken (1996-97). The 6-1 guard plays for Bartlett High School in Anchorage. She played in 23 games last season as a junior, averaging 17.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. Jonson was the 2022 Cook Inlet Conference Player of the Year, helping Bartlett finish 11-3 in conference play. She played on the AAU circuit with FBC Northwest Alliance.
"Mikayla is extremely versatile and loves to play both offense and defense," Payne said. "She's aggressive and active and will definitely fill a stat sheet, both scoring and rebounding. Mikayla is going to be arriving at CU this winter and will have an opportunity to get acclimated to college basketball throughout the spring semester."
The current Buffs will be back in action on Saturday, hosting Jackson State (2 p.m. MT) to open the Preseason WNIT.