Cierra Warren has maintained a dual personality throughout her high-school career. During the winter, she must be a scorer for her Los Osos High School team in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., to enjoy any success. During the spring and summer, she plays with nationally elite guards and wings for the Cal Sparks club team, and therefore Warren can focus on defense and rebounding.
If a confluence of all those skills occurs at the University of North Carolina, where Warren committed during an official visit on Saturday, Tar Heel coach Sylvia Hatchell just pulled off the perfect recruitment.
At 6-foot-3, Warren, ranked No. 31 in the ESPN HoopGurlz Hundred, can be a rugged, one-on-one defender on the boxes and a sturdy deterrent on weakside help. Cleaning the glass at both ends is where she shines. There is a reason.
"Rebounding is the only way I get the ball to score in high school," said Warren, who averaged 22.5 points for Los Osos. "It just carried over to when I played for the Sparks. If I had to score to help the team win, I could find a way. But defense is what was needed."
Warren made official visits to Maryland and Rutgers and was tugged by the Scarlet Knights because of her admiration for coach C. Vivian Stringer. But she said committing to UNC fulfilled a longtime dream of wanting to play in Chapel Hill, so she cancelled official visits to Miami (next weekend) and Washington State (Oct. 8) to make the commitment.
North Carolina appears to be a great fit for Warren. The Tar Heels graduated the last of its great inside duo, Erlana Larkins, after last season and the past two years have loaded up on perimeter punch. Cetera DeGraffenreid started as a freshman last season and Italee Lucas was a much-heralded classmate; they will be joined this season by incoming freshmen She'la White and Candace Wood, both of whom wield sweet strokes and were ranked in the top 50 by ESPN HoopGurlz.
Chay Shegog, another incoming freshman, and Martina Wood, Candace's sister, are the only posts on the UNC roster.
Warren's excellent mobility should serve her well in North Carolina's fleet, high-powered offense. In fact, at Hatchell's urging, Warren will focus on developing her ballhandling skills and increasing the range on her shot.
Given all the circumstances, the choice was a no-brainer.
"I didn't have to wait," Warren said. "It was just the right choice.
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Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A member of the McDonald's All-American and Parade All-American Selection Committees, he formerly coached girls club basketball, was the editor-in-chief of an online sports network, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.