Fourth Fireworks: Pohlen Pulls the Trigger

While fans and coaches are gearing up for the bonanza of recruiting activity that will transpire this month during the evaluation period, the 2007 Cardinal recruiting class is now more than half completed. The cyber-ink was barely dry on the news of Ashley Cimino's commitment to Stanford when a third premier prospect made her verbal pledge yesterday - on campus on the Fourth of July.

Tomorrow beings the most intense recruiting period of the year, with the opening of the July basketball evaluation period.  One of the players who able to take herself out of the hoopla before that action tips off is Jeanette Pohlen, the 5'11" senior wing from Brea (Calif.) Brea-Olinda High School.  Pohlen earlier this spring narrowed her list of schools to a final three, all of whom offered her.  Some 80 schools had recruited her, and several were painful for Pohlen to cut, including UCLA, California, Boston College and Gonzaga.

"One of the tougher ones was when I said 'no' to Cal," Pohlen opens.  "I know they are a program coming up and on the rise, and [Joanna Boyle] is a great coach."

"It was tough to do, but I knew I had to get things under control before the summer started and got crazy," she adds.  Pohlen cut her list in May to a trio of schools, all in the Pac-10.  The guard gave us comments on the final three late last week, just before she traveled to Oregon for the Nike Girls Skills Academy.

USC - "I love their coaching staff.  I like their style of play a lot.  They were very welcoming to me, and SC is close to home."

Arizona State - "I love all the girls and the coaching staff, and I love their style of play."

Stanford - "With Stanford you have the academics and one of the great programs in college basketball.  Tara VanDerveer is one of the great coaches in the country.  The hard thing with Stanford, though, is that if you don't get in, you can't go there."

"It will be a question of what is the best fit and best overall for me," Pohlen says of her college commitment.  "I've visited all three schools, but before I make my decision, I will visit all three again.  I recently visited ASU and will see USC pretty soon.  I hope to do Stanford soon, as well.

The landscape changed in just the last few days, however, with Pohlen receiving word that her application has been accepted by the Admissions Office at Stanford.  While her busy July was set to continue in the Beaver State with the famed End of the Trail in Oregon City tipping off tomorrow, Pohlen made a telling trip yesterday.  She and her mother flew to The Farm for an ominous unofficial visit.  It doesn't take a recruiting guru to put 1 + 1 together.

While we are waiting to reach Pohlen for reaction to her admissions acceptance and conspicuously scheduled Stanford trip - she is currently practicing with her AAU team, Cal Swish Black, in advance of the End of the Trail tournament - the recruit's father just returned our phone call this evening.

"Jeanette visited Stanford yesterday, and things started to click for her," John Pohlen reports.  "She verballed."

"It was a process that had been going on for more than a year, and she did her research," the father adds.  "It's a great time for her, and now she can just play basketball this July."

Jeanette Pohlen is the Cardinal's third verbal commitment in the already dizzying 2007 class.  The 5'11" guard, rated at four stars by Scout.com, joins the previous pair of forward commits in five-star Kayla Pedersen and three-star Ashley Cimino.  Pohlen has been named the Orange County Player of the Year each of the last two years, and she still has her senior season ahead of her.  The Brea-Olinda standout averaged 18.9 points, 12.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per game this past winter.  That all sounds fantastic, but it was a difficult campaign for the Ladycats and their point guard.

"This season was probably the toughest season," Pohlen begins.  "People didn't expect us to do well.  We started off pretty slow."

Innocent enough on the surface, the Brea-Olinda junior is describing a monumental story in Orange County, and all of California, basketball that transpired this past winter.  The Ladycats were riding a 183-game winning streak in league play that dated back to 1987 until they lost on January 13, 2006 to El Dorado by five points in overtime.  Adding insult to injury, Brea-Olinda lost another league game one week later at Villa Park.  The longtime power moved into the playoffs as the third-place team from the Century League, failing to win a league title for the first time in 24 years.

The mighty had fallen.  Or so it seemed.

"By the end, we pulled it together and played as well as we thought we could.  We just didn't show it earlier," Pohlen says.

Brea-Olinda was seeded #5 in the CIF Division II-A playoffs, a 32-team field.  En route to an improbable title, the Ladycats throttled #3 seed Woodbridge by 30 points in the quarterfinals, upended #1 seed Newbury Park by 21 points in the semis, and then handled #4 seed South Torrance in the CIF championship by 17 points.

"We knew we had a chance.  We just had a tough road," Pohlen offers.  "The whole season was weird.  We didn't have a set rotation; we were everywhere.  Losing the league winning streak gave us an incentive to win CIF even more.  It was tough losing that, though, after all those years of tradition."

A shining light for her team through their rocky road, Pohlen was Miss Everything.  She was the point guard and primary ballhandler for her squad, while also scoring more points than Brea-Olinda's next two best scores combined.  Pohlen also not only led her team in rebounding, but she also broke the school all-time single-season rebounding record with a total of 383 boards.  As the team's point guard.

"In college, I'm probably not going to play the 'one,' but if a college coach wants me to play the 'one,' I can.  I think it's helped me so much," Pohlen describes.  "Right now [during AAU basketball] I'm trying to be more versatile.  I try to play as many positions as possible.  Also I've been trying to work on my outside shot.  I'm working on my range.  I'm trying to work on it on my own, outside of Swish and Brea."

Because Pohlen is hard at work - right now - we will wait to talk with her about her commitment, her visit to Stanford yesterday, her reaction to being admitted by the University, and more.  Stay tuned for much more on this newest Cardinal commitment news, including expert evaluations of Pohlen from Scout.com National Director of Scouting Chris Hansen.


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