BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Ridgeview High senior Erica McCall can post up, shoot a jumper, handle the basketball and take care of academic business.
She proved Saturday night she has a flair for the dramatic, too.
McCall, in choosing at which college she'd continue her stellar basketball career, unzipped her Ridgeview jacket to unveil a Connecticut T-shirt -- apparently informing the hundreds gathered in Ridgeview's gym that she would join the Huskies.
But off came the UConn shirt, revealing a UCLA logo. Another cheer went up.
But there was one more finalist, and McCall had one more layer. She discarded the UCLA shirt for a red Stanford one, then popped on a Cardinal hat to make it official: The Ridgeview senior is headed to the Bay Area to play for one of the nation's premier women's basketball programs.
"It's academics and basketball, the best of both worlds," McCall said. "Deep inside, I knew family was the most important thing to me, so it had to be a school close to home. It's going to be great."
ESPNU and HoopGurlz rank McCall, a 6-foot-3 forward, as the No. 11 recruit in the nation for the Class of 2013. She is a three-time Californian Player of the Year and last year averaged 25.8 points, 16.7 rebounds, 7.1 blocks and 1.4 steals per game as a junior. She has played in the FIBA World Championships for the U.S. under-16 and under-17 teams.
"You get a kid of Erica's caliber, getting it done in the classroom and on the court, it makes coaching easy,” said Michael Martin, who has coached McCall since the fifth grade with the Lady Dawgs club and at Ridgeview. “It’s a perfect fit for her. Stanford runs up and down the court and plays aggressive, exactly the way she likes.”
McCall, who listed Stanford, UConn and UCLA as finalists and also considered Cal State Bakersfield, where her dad, Greg, is the coach, signed a letter of intent right after her dramatic announcement. She’ll fax it to Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer when the NCAA’s early signing period begins Wednesday.
“I’m going to be coached by Tara VanDerveer and all those great coaches up there,” McCall said. “I’m very excited to win a championship.”
She also was excited, quite clearly, by the end of the recruiting process. McCall started receiving recruiting letters as a freshman, and she counted them as they came.
The final tally? 3,824, right up until last week, when she quietly decided that Stanford was the place.
“It’s been stressful,” she said. “I’ve lost a lot of sleep, because this is a really big thing for me.”
McCall’s sister, DeWanna Bonner McCall, played four years at Auburn and now stars for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.
Now it’s McCall’s turn. She announced it with an elaborate dinner party at Ridgeview that featured cupcakes decorated for each of her three finalist schools, several cakes, a video monologue from McCall and a cavalcade of speakers, including Greg and Erica’s mother, Sonya; teachers, counselors, teammates and pastors; and even the mayor, Harvey Hall.
“I can’t be any more proud of the athlete we’re honoring tonight,” Hall said.
At the end, McCall led an impromptu dance party with friends, finally free to let the world know: She’s headed to Stanford.
“I hate to see her go,” Martin said, “but the things she has in front of her? She’s going to make Bakersfield proud.”