Women Sign Two Standouts

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - A pair of standout players has signed letters of intent to play for the North Carolina women's basketball program, UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell has announced.

Erlana Larkins, a 6-2 forward from Riviera Beach, Fla., and LaToya Pringle, a 6-3 forward/center from Fayetteville, N.C., signed on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period, and will join the Tar Heel squad in the fall of 2004. Both players earned Miss Basketball honors in their home states last season after leading their respective teams to state championships.

Larkins, who attends the Benjamin School in North Palm Beach, Fla., is ranked as the No. 4 player in the class of 2004 by All-Star Girls Report. Pringle, who attends Seventy-First High School in Fayetteville, is ranked No. 45.

"I'm thrilled that Erlana and LaToya are going to become a part of our program," Hatchell said Wednesday. "They're both well-rounded student-athletes who will fit right in. Both have a championship mentality in addition to outstanding skills. All of our players and coaches are looking forward to their arrival next fall."

Larkins earned Miss Basketball honors for the state of Florida last season as a junior, when she also was named Class 2A Player of the Year and all-state for the third year in a row. In her five years on the varsity team at the Benjamin School, Larkins has helped the team to three Class 2A titles, including one in 2003, when she earned state tournament MVP honors. She ia a three-time Small Schools Player of the Year by the Palm Beach Post.

"Erlana is tremendously versatile and can play any position except point guard," Hatchell said. "She's a great wing player, she can play inside, she can play anywhere on the floor."

Larkins is the daughter of Victoria and Earl Larkins and is coached at Benjamin by Ronnalee and Mike Terry. "I had a great time on my official visit to UNC," Larkins said. "The girls and the coaching staff are all great people and I felt like that's where I belong and where I can make an impact over the years."

Pringle was North Carolina's Miss Basketball for Class 4A in 2003 and also earned region and district Player of the Year honors. She was MVP of the region and state tournaments while leading Seventy-First to the 2003 state championship. As a junior, she joined Camille Little, now a UNC freshman, on the 2003 Associated Press all-state first team.

"LaToya is such an athlete," Hatchell said. "She's long and lanky, a tremendous rebounder and scorer with good range for a big girl. I think she'll continue to grow, and I know she'll get stronger."

Pringle was the recipient of the Joel Ferrell Memorial Award for athletic ability and sportsmanship at last summer's AAU Junior Olympics. She also is a decorated volleyball player, earning all-region and all-conference honors.

Pringle is the daughter of Reece and Sharon Pringle and is coached at Seventy-First by Tracie Taylor. "I chose UNC because of its good academic programs," Pringle said, "and also because I felt that I would fit in well with the basketball program."

The Carolina women's basketball team, ranked 14th in the preseason Associated Press and coaches' polls, opens the 2003-04 season on Nov. 21 with a home game against St. Francis (Pa.) Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Carmichael Auditorium.

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