Displaying an expansive international recruiting reach, Stanford women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer filled nearly every position by announcing the signing of four prep standouts to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday.
The highly regarded group, comprised of student-athletes from Ohio, New Mexico, Australia and Washington D.C., will join the Cardinal ahead of the 2015-16 campaign.
Shannon Coffee (Dayton, Ohio/Centerville), Alexa Romano (Albuquerque, N.M./La Cueva), Alanna Smith (Hobart, Australia/Wesley College) and Marta Sniezek (Washington D.C/National Cathedral), all ranked among the best in the nation at their positions, are impressive additions to a Stanford program that has captured 14 straight Pac-12 regular-season titles and advanced to six of the last seven Final Fours.
The No. 6 Cardinal opens its regular-season on Friday night when it hosts Boston College in Maples Pavilion at 5:30 p.m.
"This class addresses our team needs with very capable and accomplished players at those positions," VanDerveer said. "We have size in Shannon and Alanna and are also bringing in a pair of great guards in Alexa and Marta. When you recruit, a lot of intangibles come into play, which you can't measure. But we have four student-athletes that will adjust to Stanford well and work hard."
The 6-foot-5 Coffee, a skilled interior prospect, is the 94th ranked recruit in the country according to Blue Star Basketball and the 17th rated post by ESPN HoopGurlz. She led Centerville High School and the Greater Western Ohio Conference (GWOC) in scoring as a junior, averaging more than 18 points per contest on 61 percent shooting to go along with 7.5 rebounds per game.
Coffee had 12 games in which she scored at least 20 points, including 30 in an 85-36 victory over Northmont on Jan. 8. She also tallied seven double-doubles in Centerville's 27 games and was named First Team All-GWOC as the Elks finished 23-4 overall and 9-1 in conference play.
"Shannon loves to run the floor, she's an excellent passer and can score," VanDerveer added. "She's a 6-foot-5 post player that is a very knowledgeable, loves to play and is a great student of the game."
A 2013-14 Associated Press Division I All-Ohio Second Team honoree, Coffee's field goal percentage, free throw percentage, points, rebounds, steals, blocks and assists averages have all improved in each of her prep seasons. She owns a school record for most points scored in a season (488) and this summer was selected to play on the Ohio Elite Team sponsored by the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association. The squad featured the top ten upcoming high school seniors in the state of Ohio and played other states including Kentucky, Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin in the 2014 National Rising Senior Event in Indianapolis sponsored by the National High School Basketball Coaches Association from July 14-15.
Romano, a sharp-shooting 5-foot-10 guard, averaged 21.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists as a junior for La Cueva High School in Albuquerque. In last season's District 2-5A Championship on March 1, Romano scored 26 of her 32 points in the second half to lead the Bears to a 57-53 win.
"Alexa can play one or the two," VanDerveer said. "She has both high-level speed and quickness and is a great fit for our team and our program."
The versatile Romano reached the 30-point plateau six times in 2013-14, topping out by pouring in 36 in an 81-37 win over Cleveland High School on Jan. 8. She shot 46 percent from the floor (218-of-475), 42 percent from behind the arc (70-of-167), 83 percent from the line (116-of-140) and handed out five or more assists 10 times in 29 games. She also led the Bears in steals (2.7) and blocks (1.3) per game. La Cueva went 20-9 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2014 5A State Basketball Championships.
She was the 5A Player of the Year as a sophomore (2013), the classification's Defensive Player of the Year as a junior (2014) and has been a First Team All-State selection each of the last two seasons.
Romano's exploits aren't restricted to the hardwood. In her freshman year, she won the 5A state title in the 400 meters with a time of 56.89 seconds. After not competing as a sophomore due to injury, this past May Romano finished first at the state meet in the long jump (17-10 1/2). She was also part of La Cueva's 4x200 relay team, which not only won the title with a time of 1:41.59, but also broke a state record that had stood since 1981.
Smith, a 6-foot-3 post from Down Under, is a five-star recruit according to Prospects Nation and a veteran of Basketball Australia's national team program. She represented her country at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship for Women in Amsterdam, averaging 5.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Australia's fifth-place tournament finish included a 15-point, seven-rebound, nine-block performance for Smith against Japan on Aug. 22. Her FIBA career started at the 2011 FIBA Oceanic U16 Championship for Women.
"Alanna has some versatility," VanDerveer said. "She's a post player who possesses a perimeter shot so a proverbial stretch-4. She is really fun to be around, is very motivated, very positive and we see her having great upside."
The mobile post is currently on the roster of the Jayco Australian Gems Team for the 2014 FIBA Oceania U19 Championships taking place from December 1-6 in Suva, the capital of Fiji. Australia will face the likes of Fiji, Samoa, Guam, Tahiti and New Zealand in the six-day competition, with the winner securing the region's sole place at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women in Russia next July.
In her first season with the Nunawading Spectres of the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) in 2014, Smith averaged 12.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in 18 minutes of action per game and shot over 50 percent from the floor.
Off the court, she has also volunteered for Red Dust Role Models, a charity that delivers health promotion programs to remote indigenous Australian communities.
Sniezek, a consensus top-100 recruit, is a five-star talent rated as the 39th best player in the country according to ESPN HoopGurlz. The 5-foot-8 dynamo has paced the Washington metropolitan area in scoring over the past two seasons and is the reigning Gatorade District of Columbia Girls Basketball Player of the Year. As a junior, she averaged 30.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 6.6 steals to lead her team to the D.C. State Athletic Association (DCSAA) semifinals. A three-time First Team All-Independent School League selection and 2013-14 All-Met first teamer, she averaged 27.3 points per game in the DCSAA tournament.
Her production in 2013-14 was consistent with that of a sophomore campaign that saw Sniezek average 29.5 points per game. This past year, she hit 49 three-pointers, shot nearly 80 percent from the free throw line and scored 30 or more points in 10 games.
In late May, Sniezek was selected by the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame to participate in a program honoring young basketball players for their achievements in sport and landed her No. 23 Cathedral jersey in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame's Ring of Honor display in Knoxville, Tenn.
"Marta is a very savvy player and a pure point guard," VanDerveer commented. "We have watched her play a lot. She's physical and is also a soccer All-American so she is very athletic. She is heady and, more than anything, is extremely competitive."
Less than three weeks ago, the multi-sport star was selected as a NSCAA High School Soccer All-American and will join 41 other elite soccer players from across the nation to take part in the Second Annual High School All-American Game on Dec. 13 in Raleigh, NC. The versatile forward scored 26 goals in 2014, the second-highest total in the Washington metropolitan area, as the Eagles won the ISL AA championship and their third consecutive DCSAA title. Sniezek earned MVP honors at the 2014 DCSAA championship game for her two-goal performance in National Cathedral's 3-2 win over St. John's and her total high school production included 50 career goals and 17 assists.
A member of the National Society of High School Scholars, Sniezek has volunteered locally on behalf of the Haiti Relief Fund, Jill's House offering services to children with special needs, and So Others May Eat, delivering food and medical supplies to families in need in the greater D.C. area.