If there wasn’t enough evidence already, last week’s NCAA National Letter of Intent signing day proved once again that La Jolla’s high schools have become a hotbed for talent in college athletics at the highest level.
On Nov. 15, seven area athletes signed letters of intent to continue their sporting careers in college, making official their decisions to play at the next level. Four of those came from La Jolla Country Day, and five of the seven were in the sport of girls’ basketball.
The official period for signing national letters of intent began on Nov. 15 for all sports except football, soccer, boys’ water polo and field hockey. Once the period begins, high school athletes can make their verbal commitments official by signing letters, which essentially commit them to the athletic program with which they sign.
From La Jolla Country Day’s girls’ basketball program, which has become not only a local power in recent years but also a major exporter of talent to high-level NCAA Division I schools, Janae Fulcher committed to Arizona State, Chelsea Burns signed with Utah State, and Dominique Conners committed to the University of San Diego.
From the girls’ basketball team at The Bishop’s School, Michelle Brunker signed with the University of Louisiana, and Annie Kadota committed to Rice.
La Jolla Country Day also had Samantha Berenter sign with Indiana’s softball program, and announced that football kicker Travis Golia has verbally committed to Stanford (the first signing date for football is not until February). Laurel Casey, who plays for the girls’ volleyball team at The Bishop’s School, has signed with Yale.
Of the basketball signings, Fulcher’s and Brunker’s may be the most notable.
Fulcher will join a Sun Devils team that opened the week of Nov. 19 ranked No. 15 in the Associated Press women’s basketball poll and that advanced to the elite eight in the NCAA tournament last season.
Fulcher averaged 9.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a junior, helping the Torreys advance to the state tournament.
“Janae is an aggressive, hardworking lefty post who absolutely has an unbelievable level of focus and competitive spirit,” Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said in an athletic department statement. “We have been following Janae since she was in ninth grade, and we knew then that we wanted her here. She is a relentless post player who has competed at the highest level for one of the top high school programs in California."Janae is everything we look for in a Sun Devil - passionate, determined and a great scorer and rebounder with a defensive mentality."In heading to Louisiana, Brunker will land on a team that also made the NCAA tournament last year. Before suffering a season-ending knee injury last season, she averaged 19 points, four rebounds, six assists and seven steals a game for the Knights."As you go through the recruiting process, you ultimately hope that you can find a university where everything fits, and for me the place to be was the University of Louisiana,” Brunker said. “While traveling to AAU tournaments since the age of 10, I have had the opportunity to be on a lot of college campuses. Louisiana had everything I was looking for in a college: a strategy to pursue my intended major in pediatric/sports medicine, a comfortable and friendly campus environment, and an opportunity to join a basketball team that gets along with one another and is committed to being the best they can be - together."Conners will get to play high-level basketball staying close to home, just down the road from Country Day at USD. She is coming off a season in which she was named the CIF-San Diego Section’s Division IV girls’ basketball Player of the Year.
“We are very fortunate to have a student-athlete as talented and gifted as Dominique Connors join our women’s basketball program,” USD coach Cindy Fisher said. “Dominique not only brings an amazing amount of talent but brings an infectious work ethic and passion for the game. Dominique will make an immediate impact on the West Coast Conference and be a significant contributor to our team’s success in the future."Berenter, a shortstop for La Jolla Country Day, is expected to quickly contribute at Indiana. She was a three-sport athlete for the Torreys, so was valued for her versatility."Sammy is a tremendous kid - she is athletic, gritty, hard-nosed, intelligent, and everything you want when working with an athlete,” Indiana coach Stacey Phillips said. “She will provide strength in the middle infield positions as well as work in the outfield. She is a table setter who also possesses the power to drive the ball to the fence and out of the park.
“Not only does she bring all of this to the softball field, but she also brings that attitude to the classroom. She will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level academically and athletically here at Indiana.”