Charli Turner-Thorne, the head coach at Arizona State, can thank Patricia Alofaituli, the mother of the No. 34 ranked prospect in the ESPNU HoopGurlz 100, for her daughter's recent commitment. It was a surprise unofficial visit, arranged by Karina Alofaituli's mother, that ended up sealing the deal for the Sun Devils.
The impromptu trip to Tempe solidified what Alofaituli, who goes by the nickname "KiKi" was already thinking, that ASU would be a great fit.
"It was after the first day," KiKi said of her unofficial visit this spring, "I was just walking around campus and I thought -- yeah I definitely could see myself here."
Alofaituli loves the sun and the vibe of the campus but it was the coaching staff that really caught her attention.
"That was definitely the first thing," KiKi said of the connection with the ASU coaches, "that's why I fell in love with (ASU)."
It wasn't any one coach in particular but KiKi said all were down to earth and that she could easily relate to them. That bond made her really comfortable with her decision. So comfortable, in fact, she made just one other visit, to local UC-Riverside at her mother's request.
"She's excited about ASU," George Quintero, her Cal Storm Team Taurasi club coach, said. "It's a great choice for her she gets to stay close to home and her family gets to see her play. She's a tremendous fit for the program, getting a player like that with a warrior's mentality. She's really as tough as they get."
With the commitment Turner-Thorne's program joins Stanford and Texas A&M with two commitments in the top 50 of the junior class. Alofaituli is the second player from the top 35 to commit to the Sun Devils in the past two weeks, joining Colorado-native Eliza Normen. The 6-1 Normen is ranked No. 28 in the 2011 class according to ESPN HoopGurlz.
"I think we've yet to see the best of her," Quintero said. "She's really developing as a player and I think there's a huge potential for her to do very well in the Pac-10 as a two and a three. She has the strength to defend a big player and the quickness to attack that same player and great potential to be a scorer on the next level. She just plays as hard as anybody I know defensively."
Alofaituli is a physical 6-foot wing player with interior scoring skills that rival some of the top forwards in the class. She elevates so easily and can shoot over players much taller than she is. She scores through contact and has a nice mid-range game as well. She is working on her handle to use her strength and athleticism from the perimeter and defensively she is a tireless worker that should fit ASU well.
Amber Orrange Commits To Stanford
Amber Orrange, the 5-7 combo guard from Houston, is soft spoken and reserved but on the court she is the complete opposite which is what Tara Vanderveer is going to have in her backcourt starting in 2011.
Orrange, the No. 34 prospect in the 2011 class according to ESPN HoopGurlz, approached her recruitment with a lot of focus on what would be most beneficial to her future and in Stanford she thinks she's found a perfect setting.
"It was the combination of academics and basketball," Orrange said of what attracted her to the Cardinal program.
Though Orrange has yet to decide on a course of study she has looked into the biomechanical engineering program. When it comes to basketball she is more certain on what her journey will be like.
"I think I'll be able to help them by creating for other people," Orrange said.
The lefty guard is a dual threat offensively because she has the vision to make great passes to open teammates off of dribble penetration but she also has a knack for scoring in the paint.
"The higher and higher levels she plays the more impressed I am with her ability to get past her primary defender," George Washington, her DFW Elite Houston club team coach said.
Washington pointed to the Baylor elite camp last year when Orrange got to play against one of the most dominant perimeter defenders in the country, Odyssey Sims. After her performance at the camp he left thinking she might be really good. Later in the summer the two players' club teams squared off in a tournament and it was that moment that he knew he had a truly special player in his program.
"She has that knack to get into the paint," Washington added.
But Orrange isn't a player to talk about all the things she's good at. Her club team finished a tournament in Chicago last summer and left to travel home around 10:00 p.m. Washington, who is also an assistant coach at Orrange's high school, said he got a call around 1:00 a.m. asking if he would open the gym at at five so she could work on things she didn't do well in the tournament.
Cardinal fans are hoping Orrange can bring that special penetrating ability that the team had with Candice Wiggins. But she will not be coming alone as the Stanford also has a verbal commitment from the No. 18 prospect in the class, Bonnie Samuelson. The 6-2 sharpshooter from Huntington Beach, Calif., can score in bunches and those buckets might come from some fantastic dishes from Orrange.
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Chris Hansen is the National Director of Prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz and covers girls' basketball and women's college-basketball prospects nationally for ESPN.com. A graduate of the University of Washington with a Communications degree, he has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a high school and club coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. Hansen can be reached at email@example.com