May 8, 2012
HOUSTON - University of Houston head women's basketball coach Todd Buchanan put the finishing touches on the highly touted 2012-13 signing class Wednesday, announcing that Sera Ozelci and Yasmeen Thompson have inked National Letters of Intent to play for the Cougars.
"We're extremely excited to add Sera and Yasmeen to our basketball family," Buchanan said. "Both players bring great size to their positions as well as a lot of experience. We'll have by far the most depth that we've had here in the last two seasons. I give all the credit to my staff for continuing to do an incredible job on the recruiting trail."
Ozelci, a 6-1 guard, prepped at TED Ankara College in Ankara, Turkey, where she was voted the school's Top Athlete as a sophomore and junior. Ozelci, whose name is pronounced "oh-zatch-ee", was tabbed the top forward at the 2009 National High School Championship and served as captain of her high school and U18 squads the past two seasons. A big-time scoring threat, Ozelci rattled off 36 of her team's 56 points in the Ankara title game.
"Sera brings us much-needed size on the perimeter," Buchanan said. "She's very versatile in how she can play positions one through three. She handles the ball well and has great court vision. She also has a high basketball IQ and has played a lot of basketball for her age, which is important for us to add that experience.
"We're elated to not only get a tremendous player and wonderful kid but to knock down some barriers and be able to open a window for us in recruiting abroad. I give a ton of credit to coach Wade Scott for all of his due diligence and hard work."
Thompson is a 6-2 forward that played the past two seasons at Paris Junior College, where the Dragons posted a 24-7 record in 2011-12 and reached a school-record national ranking of No. 11. Thompson earned NJCAA All-Conference Honorable Mention honors after averaging 8.1 points and a team-leading 9.0 rebounds per game while shooting 44 percent (80-of-183) from the field.
Thompson hails from Philadelphia, where she averaged 13.9 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per contest as a senior at Freire Charter High School.
"YT brings great size and athleticism as well as toughness and physicality to the post position," Buchanan said. "She can play the four or five and will really give us options defensively with her ability to go out and guard the perimeter. Coach Sean Lebeauf does a tremendous job so we know she'll be well coached. We all have a big heart for JUCO kids and how they have to grow up quick. (Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator) Ravon (Justice) and (Assistant Coach) Leah (Foster) did an outstanding job, and I'm really proud of them."
Ozelci and Thompson join seven prospects that have inked with the Cougars for the upcoming season, which includes six Texas high school products and an NJCAA All-American.
UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON WOMEN'S BASKETBALL SIGNEES
Player Pos. Ht. Class-Exp. Hometown-High School Marche Amerson F 6-1 Fr.-HS Bryan, Texas-Rudder HS Taylor Gilbert F 6-2 Fr.-HS Missouri City, Texas-Hightower HS Tyler Gilbert F 6-2 Fr.-HS Missouri City, Texas-Hightower HS Jessieka Palmer G 6-0 Fr.-HS La Marque, Texas-La Marque HS Alecia Smith PG 5-7 Fr.-HS Cedar Hill, Texas-Cedar Hill HS Bianca Winslow G 5-7 Fr.-HS Bellaire, Texas-Bellaire HS Te'onna CampbellF 5-10 Jr.-TR Ontario, Calif.-New Mexico JC Sera Ozelci G 6-1 Fr.-HS Ankara, Turkey-TED Ankara College Yasmeen ThompsonF 6-2 Jr.-TR Philadelphia, Pa.-Paris JC
Various recruiting services ranked the early six-player that signed in November among the nation's top-40 recruiting hauls, including Dan Olson's Collegiate Girls Basketball Report (No. 22) and ESPN HoopGurlz (No. 39).