SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara has signed four high school standouts to National Letters of Intent, it was announced by Head Coach Carlene Mitchell on Saturday.
"Our staff has assembled a group of young ladies that have the ability to do special things for our program," Mitchell said. "All four have the passion, drive, and ability to make an immediate impact on our program."
Starting next season, the Gauchos will welcome guard/forward Chaya Durr from Sacramento High, combination guard Makala Roper who played at Cleveland High in Seattle, a guard from Renton, Wash. Taylor Farris, and Sabrina Callahan who played forward/center at La Jolla Country Day School.
As a forward/center, Sabrina Callahan played for one of the basketball powerhouses in Southern California. Since her freshman year, Callahan has helped her team to a league championship and a regional berth in every season.
"She was the first to pledge her desire to become a Gaucho, which shows her unwavering belief and loyalty to our program," Mitchell said. "She is a vocal leader with a high basketball IQ who plays with a level of confidence that is beyond her years."
Callahan really came into her own as a junior. Last season, she became a consistent scorer for La Jolla Country Day averaging 6.5 points per game, and also continued to develop as a rebound as she collected 97 boards.
"She is selfless, Mitchell noted. "She can play multiple positions and is always willing to do the little things, which is crucial in winning close games."
Chaya Durr averaged a double-double during her junior season with 18 points and 12 rebounds per game. She also picked up four steals in each outing.
After that standout season, Durr was named an all-city and all-league first teamer. Coming from a program with a winning tradition, the Dragons clinched their league and sectional titles every season Durr has been on the team.
"She will leave it all on the floor from tip-off to the final buzzer," Mitchell said. "She plays the game with a fiery passion and contagious competitive drive. Her athletic ability will create mismatch nightmares for our opponents."
A versatile athlete, Durr not only excelled in basketball, but she was also a four-year varsity player on Sacramento High's volleyball team. She was even named MVP of the Metro League this past season.
Makala Roper has been fittingly nicknamed 'Sniper' as she has scored 1,104 points in just three seasons at Cleveland High, averaging at least 13 points per game each year.
"She sees the game two passes ahead, allowing her style to be smooth and, at times, advanced beyond her years" Mitchell said. "She can lead the break with a point guard's skill and finish in a variety of ways."
Last season, Roper led the Eagles to a 3A State Championship by averaging 15.6 points, five rebounds, and four assists per game.
After capturing the state crown, Roper was named the MVP of the Metro League and was recognized by the Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune in their respective first-team lists.
Also from Washington, Taylor Farris helped Renton High achieve school history as a junior by leading the Indians to their first ever state tournament appearance.
A starter since she was a freshman, she has shot for 51 percent from the field in her high school career so far. Farris has also averaged 15.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.9 steals, and 5.8 blocks per game in high school. However, she is coming off a junior season when she put up 23 points and dished at 5.1 assists per game.
"The scouting report will read 'she plays at the rim,'" Mitchell said. "She is one of the best passers UCSB has seen when attacking the paint and in transition. Her length leads to countless deflections."
When she was only a sophomore, Farris was named a team captain and went on to earn First-Team All League status by the end of the year. Last year when she led the Indians to state, she was again named to the Sea Mount League first team and was also named its MVP.
"I really want to thank the support staff, administration, and our current players on helping to solidify this group," Mitchell said. "My staff targeted and signed players that can take our program to the next level and represent our university and community with class."
The Gaucho coaching staff isn't finished putting together incoming recruiting class. Mitchell and her staff are targeting one or two players at the power forward and center positions for the April 2014 signing period.