Ward among those who sign with Nevada
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Nevada women’s basketball coach Kim Gervasoni has closely followed the career of Spring Creek’s Johnna Ward for the past three years.
Gervasoni’s diligence paid off Wednesday when the 5-8 Ward signed a national letter of intent to play basketball for Nevada starting next fall.
The Nevada coach also announced the signing of three other players – 6-foot guard Nicole Gross from Berkeley High, 6-2 forward Shavon Moore from J.W. North in Moreno Valley, and Nicole Williams, a 5-9 guard from Laguna Creek High School in Elk Grove, Calif.
“It’s a very athletic group; a deep class,” said Gervasoni, who is hoping to sign a fifth player today. “The last two recruiting classes have been strong. We have four talented players that will make us more athletic. All four could help right away, and a couple of them could be impact players.”
Ward, the 3-A Player of the Year, led Spring Creek to a state title last season. She was ranked as the 79th best player in the nation by hoopgurlz.com. She averaged 14.3 points, six steals and six assists per game. Ward chose the Pack over Santa Clara, Utah State, New Mexico and Montana.
“Johnna is a combo guard,” Gervasoni said. “She is one of the top players to come out of Nevada in a long time. We’re thrilled to have her.”
Ward said the choice was easy because the Pack had everything she wanted athletically and academically.
“I love the coaches and I love the area,” Ward said. “It was a perfect fit. It was close to home, but far enough away. I just like the Reno area. She (coach Gervasoni) was the first coach to recruit me.”
“Johnna is a great player,” Spring Creek coach Andy Morris said. “She will be an excellent addition to the Nevada program. She is intense and increases the level of play of everyone around her. She is a winner.”
Gross, who averaged 12 points and eight rebounds a game, selected Nevada over Oregon, Montana and Cal-State Northridge.
“She can play any of the guard spots,” Gervasoni said. “She is similar to Brandi Fitzgerald (Nevada’s leading scorer). She’s played more point guard in her career.”
Veteran Berkeley coach Gene Nakamura said that the sky is the limit for Gross.
“She is very athletic,” Nakamura said. “Defense is her biggest strength. Every year her offense has improved as her confidence has improved. Physically, she is a female Michael Jordan. Her future in college is unlimited.”
Williams comes from the highly successful Laguna Creek program, which has been one of the top programs in the Sac-Joaquin Section. She was the Cardinals’ MVP and earned all-Delta and Metro honors. She averaged 14 points and eight rebounds, and chose the Pack over Hawai’i and Fresno State.
“She’s a quick defender and very athletic,” Gervasoni said. “She needs to work on her outside shooting. She’s good creating off the dribble and sees the floor real well.”
Williams said Gervasoni has been recruiting her for more than a year.
“Nevada’s program was the right fit,” Williams said. “The team is great and they also had the major (physical therapy) I was interested in. I’ve been playing mostly 2 and 3 (shooting guard and small forward).”
Moore, a 6-2 forward, led her school to the conference title. Gervasoni said Moore reminds her of Cherlanda Franklin for her defensive ability.
“She’s a great defender,” Gervasoni said. “She’s always around the ball.”
Bryan Jones, Moore’s high school coach, said Moore will be a perfect fit in the Wolf Pack’s system.
“Shavon will give Nevada a long, athletic and quick presence on the floor,” Jones said. “She is incredible at using her length to contest the passing lanes on defense and she is an excellent rebounder.”
BASEBALL SIGNS PAIR
Baseball coach Gary Powers has signed two high school seniors – shortstop Michael Blazek and utility player Nick Leid – to play for the Wolf Pack in 2008.
Blazek plays his prep baseball at Arbor View High School in Las Vegas. He earned first-team All-Sunset Division and second-team All-State honors in 2006 as a pitcher. He helped lead AVHS to a regional playoff appearance and 20-win season in its first year of baseball.
Offensively he hit .456 and was 6-1 on the mound as a junior.
Leid earned two letters playing for Richland High School in Richland, Wash. Lied was a preseason all-conference, first-team All-Big Nine Conference, and first-team all-area selection as a junior. His junior year he hit .391 with 22 RBI and a Big Nine Conference leading six home runs.
“Mike and Nick are a great start to the early recruiting period but we plan on announcing additional signees before it ends,” said Powers. “Both are quality athletes that add tremendously to the type of player we are recruiting. Their versatility gives them opportunities to play several positions on the field.”
SOFTBALL SIGNS MURDOCK
Reno High’s Britton Murdock has decided to continue her softball career at Nevada.
“I liked the players and the coaches, and the way the program is going,” Murdock told Channel 2.