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June 6, 2014 at 11:17 AM

ICYMI: Signings, hirings, mock WNBA drafts and a trip to Mexico


UW guard Jazmine Davis drives to the hoop PHOTO: Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times

In the shadow of the WNBA, a lot has happened on the local college scene. I’m sure you heard about Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves accepting an offer for a similar position at Oregon. Well, he’s rounded out his staff, including Storm F Nicole Powell as an assistant.

Graves’ replacement at GU, longtime assistant Lisa Fortier, has done the same. She’s also dropped the “Mispley” in her surname and unlocked her Twitter account.

Here’s what I’ve either tweeted or blogged from the local scene that you may have missed:

DAWG LEADER: Washington junior Jazmine Davis is taking her spring workout to another level in prep for her senior year. In a recent conversation with coach Mike Neighbors, one motivator is a recent 2015 WNBA mock draft site. Davis, a three-time All-Pac-12 combo-guard, is listed as the No. 12 overall pick to Los Angeles.

The site is pretty good at recognizing legit prospects, including international players. But its current team order is an obvious guesstimate since the WNBA season won’t conclude until September. And the order of picks will fluctuate as the 2015 draft approaches next spring.

“Still, she’s getting noticed,” Neighbors said.

There are only 12 players listed, so yeah, it’s something. UW has been so close to breaking into the NCAA tournament, where Davis would get real looks, that whatever incentive she can get will benefit the program and her dreams of playing professionally.

VIVA MEXICO: Speaking of benefiting the program, Washington will make a trip to Mexico this fall for the Cancun Challenge Riviera. The eight  Division I teams will each play three games at the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico from Nov. 27-29. The Cancun Challenge Riviera tournament features Florida State, Furman, Hartford, and Washington. The Cancun Challenge Mayan Tournament features Charlotte, Montana, Princeton, and Wake Forest.

UW will release the remainder of its nonconference schedule later this summer. The Pac-12 schedule likely won’t be announced until September.

STILL WAITING: Neighbors announced former Miami C Macy Keen will not join the 2014-15 class as anticipated. She’s not academically eligible but Neighbors said the door is wide open for the 6-foot-6 post.

“She deserves an opportunity to go to college,” Neighbors said.

He alluded to a rough background being part of Keen’s issue in qualifying to accept the UW scholarship. More on that later. She recently completed a season at Seminole State College in Oklahoma, appearing in 12 games. Keen averaged 9.7 points on 44.4 percent shooting from the field. She shot 51.3 percent from the foul line and averaged 8.8 rebounds.

SIGN HERE: Because Keen isn’t reporting, Neighbors’ signed Khalia Lark, a 6-foot G from Mater Dei (Calif.) HS. She joins PG Kelli Kingma (Jackson HS) and F Hannah Johnson (Los Angeles) as UW’s incoming freshmen.

At Seattle U, coach Joan Bonvicini singed Portland State transfer G Delanie Parry, who’ll redshirt this season due to NCAA transfer rules. She started 11 of her 29 games for the Vikings last season.

An intriguing Redhawks transfer is F Cydnee Ceballos, who’s the daughter of former NBA standout Cedric Ceballos. Cydnee, who attended McCook Community College in Nebraska, joins PG Jazmine Johnson (Lakewood, Calif), G Crystal Allen (Fort Worth, Texas), G Ashlyn Lewey (Spokane), and F Jacinta Beckley (New Zealand) as the Seattle U 2014-15 incoming class.

Across the mountain, Washington State recently announced Bianca Blanaru signed to join the program as a freshman next season. Blanaru is a 6-5 post out of Romania, who represented the Romanian U18 national team at the European Championships in 2012 and was a member of the U20 national team last year.

She joins a top-rated class in G Ashley Bolston (Medford), F Louise Brown (Australia), G Caila Hailey (Inglewood), F Nike McClure (Tenino),G Krystle McKenzie (Australia) and PG Pinelopi Pavlopoulou (Greece).

HEY COACH: As mentioned above, Fortier completed her staff by hiring her husband Craig for the final slot. He spent the past three seasons as the associate head coach of the Eastern Washington men’s basketball team.

Craig Fortier joins former WNBA PG Stacey Clinesmith and Jordan Green as the new Zags assistant coaches staff.

At EWU, coach Wendy Schuller announced Wednesday the hiring of Jerise Freeman and Bryce Currie to join Liz Rizza as assistant coaches. At Seattle U, Bonvicini named former Zags star Vivian Frieson to replace Shaquala Williams. The latter joined the Storm staff.

VOTE HERE: Gotta sneak in a little WNBA news. The league opened All-Star voting this week and two locals are worthy of a vote. Spokane’s Briann January is Indiana’s leading scorer. The one-time WNBA champion is averaging career-bests in scoring (15.8) and assists (5.2). January, a PG, has a bigger role to open the season since all-star F Tamika Catchings is out with a back injury.

In Chicago, former Zags PG Courtney Vandersloot’s handiwork is helping the Sky (5-1) lead the Eastern Conference standings. The Kent native had a franchise-record 13 assists in a recent win and leads the WNBA in the category (9.0).

Both players are on the main 60-player All-Star ballot. You can vote daily through July 2 via the league’s website, mobile phone app, Facebook and Twitter. The All-Star game is July 19 in Phoenix.

Lisa Fortier and Storm F Alysha Clark provided a few examples of ways to vote:

Comments | More in Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, Northwest Ballers, Seattle U, Washington, Washington State | Topics: Jazmine Davis, Mike Neighbors


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