Nov. 21, 1997
SALT LAKE CITY - Head women's basketball coach Elaine Elliott announced Wednesday that four outstanding high school seniors have signed letters of intent during the early signing period to play at the University of Utah.
The Utes signed one in-stater in 6-3 forward Erin Hansen from Mountain View High School in Orem, Utah. A preseason honorable mention All-American by Street & Smith's this year, Hansen was as second-team all-state selection in 1996-97, averaging 8.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.4 blocked shots per game.
"Erin (Hansen) is a very versatile big kid who runs the floor very well," says Elliott. "She will play the four position for us, but since she is more of a finesse player Erin will be more of an outside/inside player who can both shoot the three and play around the hoop," Hansen was also recruited heavily by Colorado, Brigham Young and Southern Utah among others.
"She had a lot of good schools interested in her early, but when she announced that she wanted to stay in state they backed off," says Mountain View coach Dave Houle. "She's a very solid player who will work hard on the boards, and then step out and drain threes," Houle continues. "Last year at the state tournament, she opened up the championship game with two three-pointers and that really set the tone for the game. She's also a very good free throw shooter. Erin's just a great person who is always willing to put other people before herself. She works hard in the classroom and has about a 3.8 GPA. When Utah signed Erin, they got a real jewel."
In addition to landing one of the top high school prospects in the state of Utah, the Utes have also signed the reigning Player of the Year from Nevada and Idaho. Lauren Beckman, a 6-2 forward/center from Elko, Nev., was named the 1997 Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior. A first-team all-state selection the past two years, Beckman averaged 20.3 points and 10.7 rpg in 1996-97. She is also a two-time academic all-state selection.
"Lauren's as good as you get," raves Elliott. "She's just a big, strong inside player who has a good all-around game, runs the floor very well and has good hands. She's also a great student and fits that all-around kid you look for. She's as motived in the classroom as she is on the court."
According to her high school coach Lynette Davis, Beckman was recruited by about 25 schools, and was the top recruit of New Mexico, Navy, Washington State, Arizona and Arizona State. "New Mexico wanted her in the worst way," says Davis. "She's definitely the best player in the state of Nevada. Lauren's both an outstanding rebounder and scorer, and has shattered all of our records."
Utah also signed the 1997 Gatorade Player of the Year in Idaho, Lindsay Herbert. The 5-11 guard/forward from Lake City High School in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, averaged 14.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists last season on her way to earning first-team all-state recognition for the second-consecutive year. She is a 1997 preseason honorable mention All-American by Street & Smith's.
"Lindsay gives us great flexibility on the wings, and can play at either the two or three position," says Elliott. "She, too, has really well developed skills and is one of the best high school players the Northwest has put out in quite a while."
As far as Herbert's strengths, her high school coach Dave Stockwell says, "It's hard to list just one. She jumps well, handles the ball very well, shoots the three, has the ability to post up, and is good with both hands." Almost a straight-A student, Herbert was recruited by Colorado, Oregon, Montana, Texas Tech and Idaho. "Utah wasn't at the top of her list early, but once she visited the Utah campus and met the coaches she really liked it, and she knew where she wanted to go," says Stockwell.
Utah signed its second Canadian in as many years in Erin Gibbons, a 5-9 guard from Salmon Arm Secondary school in British Columbia. Gibbons averaged 20.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game as a junior. She was the MVP of the Western Canada Championship and a second-team all-star in 1997. Gibbons comes into the Utah program as a shooting guard, but will also likely play some at point guard.
"Erin (Gibbons) is a very intelligent, experienced player who will fit very well into our motion system," says Elliott. "She has great shooting range and great ball handling skills. Erin has very advanced skills and is probably as experienced at this point in her playing career as any player I've ever had."
With the Utes losing five very talented seniors after this season, Elliott says that she is "extremely pleased" with the strength of this recruiting class. "They will go along way toward alleviating the stress that goes along with losing such a great group of seniors," continues Elliott. "You can rank recruiting classes for what they are coming out of high school and for what they do during their college careers. In terms of a class coming out of high school, I am more than willing to say that this group ranks right up there with the best we've ever had. All four of them have the background that leads me to truly believe that they can make a mark on our program."