ESPN's HoopGurlz gives each of the six incoming commits four of five stars, and grades of between 92 and 95. Further, per ESPN, all are top-100 players, with Orrange the No. 15 player in her class, Greenfield No. 31, Green No. 49, Samuelson No. 61, Payne No. 78 and Camp No. 83.
Last year, no school in the country signed six top-100 players, so Stanford should have one of the top-ranked classes in the country, if not the No. 1 overall class, come Signing Day. (Connecticut, by comparison, has only two commitments, though one is Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the No. 1 player in the country.)
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All the rankings only go so far obviously – it's the players themselves who will compete for the conference and national titles Stanford fans hope for in the years to come. On that note, therefore, The Bootleg had the opportunity to catch up with Amber Orrange Thursday night, and talked about her commitment to Stanford, her trips to the Farm, and her game.
Orrange (prounced OR-rawnj, not "orange") on deciding upon Stanford:
"Before I even thought of attending Stanford for basketball, I went for a People-to-People leadership summit. My next Stanford experience was a basketball camp, and I really liked it there. I think that's when they first started recruited me. They showed the most interest in me, came to my games, kept in contact with me and helped me with the early application process. I know it's hard in that you have to get in first, and never know if you're going to make it, but they showed they wanted me throughout.
"They offered this summer, I think in June. Coach Tara called and said I had been accepted based on my application -- I didn't have to change a thing. They said wanted me to come and would wait and see what my response would be. I called back the next day. I knew I wanted to go! The combination of athletics and academics appealed to me. Both really achieve a high level of excellence.
With Orrange now a senior and Brianna Turner, a 6-foot-4 freshman ranked near the top of her class, on the roster, Orrange's Westbury Christian HS (Houston) has a strong chance of winning its third straight state championship this upcoming season. We asked Orrange about how she evaluates her game, and what she's looking to improve as she thinks about the next level:
"I bring something [Stanford] says they've been needing the past couple of years: I create for others to get their shots, get my own shots too, and help with penetration. … I try to play like Steve Nash, get people their shots and make them better. Be a ball handler, be a scorer, be aggressive.
"I've been talking to my coaches, and am trying to work on leadership and communication this year. I need to focus on that the most. Basketball-wise, I'm work on my right hand and continuing to work on outside shooting, three-point shooting, because that's a big part of Stanford's offense."
Orrange hopes to play professionally after college, but as far as a career afterwards she has "no idea" – hey, neither did we at 17. So we asked about her favorite classes now:
"It's hard to tell now. I thought I liked math and science, but then calculus was hard! Then I took econ and really liked it, so I'm thinking of majoring in a math and science area."
Back to basketball, we asked Orrange about Candice Wiggins, not to make an unfair comparison, but to see if Wiggins' legacy played a role in Orrange's Stanford commitment.
"I watched her when she played for Stanford and now in the WNBA. She's coming off an injury but I'm watching her. It'd be hard to reach that level at Stanford. I just want to be the best I can be and do whatever they want me to do."
Fair enough, Orrange and her class will create their own legacy. On that note, several members of this historic 2011 class (which comes just a year after a historic six-member men's basketball class) had the opportunity to bond on a recent trip to the Farm, and preview what the next five years may have in store.
"I recently took an official just last month. A couple of us, myself, Bonnie, Taylor and Erica, all came and visited at once, so that was a good experience. We got to know each other, hang with the coaches, hang with the team, watched them work out, and got to play with them -- there's a big difference between the high school and college level! The best part was seeing the environment that they're in every day.
"My host was Chiney Ogwumike. Everybody's nice and easygoing, so it should be easy to fit in."
Stay tuned to The Bootleg for more interviews from the 2011 recruiting class, and some coverage of the 2012 class in the months to come!
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