WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Utah State women's basketball head coach Raegan Pebley is excited to announce the signing of four new members for the 2011-12 roster including, Elise Nelson, Xava Grooms, Brooke Beckstead and Franny Vaaulu.
"What an outstanding class," Pebley said. "We feel that we got exactly what we set out to get with each of our signees. We knew we needed a long athletic point guard that loved defense (Nelson), an impact post who is a complete basketball player (Vaaulu), an athletic and creative wing who values rebounding (Grooms) and an all-around great shooter (Beckstead)."
Nelson, a 5-8 point guard and native of Springfield, Ore., joins the Aggies from Thurston High School where she averaged 17 points per game with season-highs including 31 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists.
"Elise is a fierce competitor who thrives in an up-tempo style of play," Pebley said. "Her foot speed and length allows her the ability to be a great defensive presence."
Nelson was named the Oregon State 5A Player of the Year in the Midwestern League and also has relatives in the Cache Valley area. Nelson competed for the Oregon Elite Club basketball team where a handful of teammates also signed National Letters of Intent for D-1 basketball programs today.
Vaaulu, a 6-3 center, native of Los Angeles, Calif., will join the squad from Warren High School. Vaaulu, who was also very highly recruited as a pitcher by D-I softball programs around the nation, picked basketball for her college career sport.
"I am excited and it feels great," Vaaulu siad. "I can't wait to be an Aggie, I love those girls at Utah State but it will also be sad to leave home."
According to ESPN Hoopgurlz, Vaaulu is the No. 21 ranked post player in the country. She was also been named first-team all-league in the San Gabriel Valley League. Vaaulu also competed for the Cal Sparks basketball club team.
Vaaulu averaged 13 ppg, 14 rebounds and also swats down an average 2.5 blocks while adding 2.0 assists per game.
Grooms, a forward standing 6-0, hails from Granada Hills, Calif. (Granada Hills HS) and will graduate from the same high school current Aggie junior Reyneisha Mays attended.
"I'm really excited about coming out there," Grooms said. "I'm excited about becoming better friends and teammates with the girls out there."
She averages 12 ppg, 9.0 rpg, three spg and two bpg while in high school. Grooms, who plans to major in engineering, looks to follow in the footsteps of her father Henry Grooms, who is an award winning Engineer.
"What a special athlete Xava is," Pebley said. "She is explosive, quick, fast and poised. She is a very similar player to Amber White. Xava has an instinct for rebounding as well which is something coaches have a hard time teaching players."
Last but not least, Beckstead, a 5-10 guard out of Preston, Idaho, is the most local of the four newcomers.
"It is pretty exciting to get everything signed and for it to be official," Beckstead said. "The team was so much fun and my visit and I am excited to get to know the girls and get to play close to home. It will be great to have the home town support and support form Cache Valley. I am also looking forward to my season this year and the the years to come."
Beckstead competes as a Preston High School Indian where she averaged 14.5 points per game and netted an outstanding 43 three pointers during her junior year.
The Aggies begin regular season action Friday, Nov. 12 as they host Dixie State in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum at 4 p.m.