2005 Women's Targets: Forwards

Local and Northwest talent dominate the Forward and Center slots targeted by the Gonzaga women's basketball staff. Quality "bigs" are always at a premium for any college program on the rise, so adding a couple of these fine prospects is a high priority for Gonzaga. We take a look at a few.

Small Forwards

Remember the name Jami Bjorklund. In fact, remember the Bjorklund name for years to come with younger sister Angie also a rising star. But for 2005, Gonzaga is highly focused on Jami, a 5'11" forward who is as versatile and "blue collar" as any player in the west. Yes, she's the ideal size to play the wing and even post up down low, but she can also handle the ball deftly and hit treys on a consistent basis. As a sophomore, Jami was the second-leading scorer in a powerful GSL. Last year on a more balanced state-placing University High School team, Jami still averaged almost 16 points per game with solid numbers in the rebounding and assist departments. Bjorklund is a joy to watch, a true leader and most importantly, a winner. To say she is a high priority might be an understatement. Jami will play summer ball with the Spokane Stars AAU team.

Brandi Jones-Fitzgerald is a teammate of Gonzaga guard target Jen Risper, and if ever there was a gauranteed double-double, Brandi would be it. Even when her coach moved her from the inside post out to the wing position, Jones-Fitzgerald still led Canyon Springs High School Cougars in rebounds while routinely scoring in the upper teens. A fierce competitor and athletic player, Brandi runs the floor extremely well and would step right in for the graduating seniors like Ashley Burke and Rae Jewell.

Power Forwards

Tina Wirth is one of, if not the best, player at any position in the state of Arizona. She is simply a difference-maker and a potential All-American. Says Tina's coach, "She is an exceptional shooter who plays guard with the size of a post player. Her ball-handling skills, everything across the board are far superior to any one player in (Class) 3A. I've had four players go on to play Division 1 and she is a better player. Remember Nicole Powell (former Mountain Pointe star who went on to play at Stanford)? She's up there in that class. She's that good. People say, 'Well, she's only playing 3A. How good can she be?' If they think I'm off base, they can come out and see for themselves." Wirth will play summer AAU ball for the Arizona Elite.

Angela Hartill is another outstanding local product from Riverside High School, the same program that gave Gonzaga Katie Prichard. At 6'2" and athletic, she is a solid presence in the post and has proved her worth against both small schools and elite competition as Hartill plays on the star-studded AAU team Spokane Stars. A good rebounder, a solid scorer, and fundamentally sound, Angela has the coaching and the skills to score in a variety of ways inside and possesses an accurate shot out to 15-17 feet. She has earned multiple awards and honors, and will only add to her accolades her senior year as she dominates. Gonzaga is definitely watching her.

Maria Hassett is proof of how deep and talented the 2005 class is at Forward. A 6'1" star for Aloha High School in Beaverton, Oregon, Maria is a high-percentage shooter and a great free-throw shooter. It helps that she knows how to draw the foul, too. Perhaps the most under-rated player of this group, Hassett has little to prove to the Gonzaga staff. They are sold on her ability to become a stellar talent in and around the paint. Double-doubles are common place for Maria and with her finesse-style game and team-oriented mindset, she'd be a welcome addition to the rising Bulldog program. You can catch Hassett playing this summer on the AAU circuit for Team Concept.

Jamila Bates is possibly the most intriguing prospect on Gonzaga's list at Power Forward. She is a very athletic talent down low and is a warrior in the paint, as indicated by her rebounding averages. For such a physical player, the Garfield High School star runs the court like a deer. She is deceiving with her speed. It also helps that her coach at Garfield is Joyce Walker, one of the all-time greatest female players in the history of the game. Bates is strong and steady, and that's just part of what makes her so appealing to the Gonzaga staff. She helped lead her team deep into the State 4A Tournament in Tacoma, and no doubt Jamila has "State Championship" on her mind for her senior season. Jamila Bates will be playing AAU ball this summer for Rotary Style from Seattle.

Centers

Kirsten Thompson is the Center that D1 coaches dream about. At 6'6" and shockingly athletic, she has all the makings of the best post player to come out of the state of Washington in a long while. This Snohomish, WA, product and Monroe High School star is exactly what Gonzaga needs as the Bulldogs are looking for top inside talent. An elite performer, Kirsten has a great skill set with polished footwork down low, which makes her unstoppable. No coach can teach her kind of height and it would be pure luxury to have a prospect like Thompson able to simply shoot over anybody in the country... And as Gonzaga steps up their schedule to nationally promiment status, she would be facing some of the best. Kirsten is a key target for Kelly Graves and will be seen playing for Washington Triple Threat in AAU ball this summer.

Ebony Coates isn't as tall as Kirsten Thompson but the Curtis High standout is truly elite, among the best Centers in the nation, much less the state. The Tacoma star is highly sought-after and the Zags are in the mix for her. Ebony has just about done it all and she has a full year to go. Every possible award and honor has come her way, and with good reason. She's a realistic All-American type player. A high scorer, a dominant rebounder, if Coates signs with Gonzaga, she just might be the finest woman basketball player to do so...ever. Ebony Coates is proof that Kelly Graves is aiming for the best possible recruits in the west now. It would be a coup for GU to have Coates commit to the Bulldogs. Like Jamila Bates, Ebony will play for Seattle Rotary Style this summer.

It should be noted that the above prospects are listed at random, and each one is under serious consideration from the Gonzaga staff.


Inside The Kennel Top Stories