Women's Basketball
    USC Women Sign Three For Nation's No. 8 Class
    Coach Cooper and the Trojans welcome three newcomers to the USC roster.
    Coach Cooper and the Trojans welcome three newcomers to the USC roster.

    April 19, 2011

    After two seasons at the helm of the USC women's basketball program, head coach Michael Cooper has three standout players signed on to join the Women of Troy next season. WIth the signings of Deanna Calhoun, Ariya Crook-Williams and Alexyz Vaioletama to national letters of intent, USC brings in a group of three that ranks as the No. 8 class in the nation according to ESPN HoopGurlz. The Trojan trio join a USC squad that graduates just two members of its 2011 WNIT finalist team. And with two newly crowned McDonald's All-Americans in the group, the Women of Troy will boast eight high school All-Americans on its roster next year -- seven McDonald's All-Americans and one WBCA All-American.

    "It's really great to be able to announce our second recruiting class to USC," Cooper said. "My coaches and I worked hard to recruit and sign talented, hard-working young women who are ready to help this program take the next step. Using the WNIT championship as a springboard, we are excited about the addition of Deanna, Ariya and Alexyz and the experience, size and depth they add to our veteran team."

    A 6-3 forward out of Albany High School in the Bay Area, Deanna Calhoun ranks as the No. 34 forward in the nation, according to the 2011 HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings. Before suffering a season-ending knee injury in December 2010, Calhoun averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. She will redshirt her first season at USC in order to heal and rehab her knee following ACL surgery early this year.

    "I'm disappointed for Deanna as well as the fans who will have to wait to see such a dynamic post player in action," Cooper said, referring to Calhoun's knee injury. "Until then, I'm looking forward to Deanna having a chance to learn our system, acclimate as a student, and be a great voice in the locker room."

     

     

    A McDonald's All-American out of Mater Dei (Calif.) High School, 6-1 forward Alexyz Vaioletama is another power forward set to post up for the Trojans. Ranked as the nation's No. 6 forward in the 2011 class of newcomers, Vaioletama is the nation's overall No. 14 players in the ESPNU Rankings Class of 2011. Also named to the 2011 Los Angeles Times All-Star Team, Vaioletama averaged 10.7 points and 7.5 rebounds for her Division I State Championship Mater Dei team. She also was a member of the USA Under-16 National Team.

    "XYZ brings a winner's attitude and work ethic," Cooper said of Vaioletama. "She has experience beyond her years and is a natural-born leader. We are excited for the immediate impact she will have on next year's team. Her rebounding and inside-out scoring ability make her such a tough matchup."

    Coming in to join the Trojan backcourt is 5-7 guard Ariya Crook-Williams out of Long Beach Poly. Listed as the No. 2 point guard in the nation, she ranks No. 16 overall in the ESPNU Rankings Class of 2011. Also a McDonald's All-American, she joined Vaioletama on the recent 2011 Los Angeles Times All-Star Team. She averaged 11.7 points per game for her Poly team that reached the Southern Section Division IAA quarterfinals this season. She has some national team experience as well after competing at the 2010 USA Basketball Under-18 Team Trials.

    "With our already stellar backcourt, Ariya's athleticism and ability to get to the basket bring a new dimension to our offensive attack," Cooper said of Crook-Williams. "Her confidence and refuse-to-lose attitude are an added bonus."