"Most of the schools are recruiting me for my shooting," says La Rocque. A lot of schools also like me for my leadership. They recruit me as a shooting guard who can handle the ball as a second- or third-string point guard. They could see me play the point some, but I'm pretty much a shooting guard. I'm fine with that."
Though she played less than two games during the April evaluation period before she broke the thumb on her shooting hand, La Rocque racked up scholarship offers from across the country. Her toughness continuing to play that tournament with a broken thumb earned her even more admirers and elevated her recruitment.
"I haven't really narrowed it down to a set number," La Rocque comments on her school list. "I have it in my mind who are some at the top, but that's not narrowing anything. It's just who has done the most recruiting."
"All of these schools, I've done research to find out if I could fit in there as a person," she adds. "Not necessarily even as a player, but to see if I could see myself going there. If so, good. If I can't see myself going there, then I kind of tell them it's not right for me."
The 2008 shooting guard names Stanford, Vanderbilt, Boston College, UCLA, Notre Dame and Arizona as her top schools. Stanford, Vanderbilt, UCLA and Arizona have offered, as have other schools further down her list like New Mexico, Iowa State and Wake Forest.
Though La Rocque barely played this spring and previously traveled the AAU circuits with lesser-known teams, her college recruitment was long ago jump-started by an offer four years ago from Joan Bonvicini.
"Arizona has recruited me the most," La Rocque says. "They offered me a scholarship when I was in the seventh grade. They have always been around, and they were the first of this whole recruiting stuff."
"My dad played for Coach [Lute] Olson," she explains. "We would go down there and watch boys games. My old babysitter was the manager there, and then the graduate manager and then an assistant coach. Jack Murphy - he's now the video coordinator for the Denver Nuggets. We've had Arizona ties forever, but they've been through the men's side."
"My dad played for Coach Olson, but not at Arizona," La Rocque continues. "He played at the second team Coach Olson ever coached at Long Beach State. Coach Olson calls us every week to see how I'm doing. He's kind of like my godfather. He always comes down here, and we go to dinner. He wants me to go to UofA, but he'll like anywhere that I choose... Every time he sees me, he says, 'If I could have a girl play on my men's team, you'd be the first one I'd pick.' That's always been a little inspiration for me. He loves me like a grandchild."
Another Pac-10 suitor, UCLA, has come on much more recently in recruiting La Rocque.
"I talked to the coach the other day," she details. "I'm number one or two atop their recruiting list for the Class of 2008."
"They came to a couple games over the summer my freshman and sophomore years, and then they kind of went back in the shadows," La Rocque recounts. "As of late, they have shown some interest. I have family in California, and a couple of my cousins graduated from UCLA. I have kind of a family tie to UCLA, so that's why I like them a little bit."
The team to beat among her suitors out West is the Stanford Cardinal, who have twice hosted her for unofficial visits in recent months. In late February, La Rocque and her father (boys head coach and girls assistant coach at Durango) came for the final regular season games against UCLA and USC at Maples Pavilion. The Las Vegas visitors stayed from Thursday through Sunday for an extended trip.
"We made a whole weekend out of it," the recruit recalls. "We saw a couple games. We did the whole unofficial visit thing, with the whole campus tour and seeing practices. I sat in on game film. I did the whole locker room stuff. It was really cool."
Two weekends ago, La Rocque's AAU team traveled to the Bay Area for a tournament in Pleasanton. Unable to play with her broken thumb, the recruit took advantage of the opportunity to see Stanford again. This time, she brought someone different from home.
"When me and my dad got back, my mom was super jealous that she missed the trip, so we had to bring back my mom," La Rocque laughs. "She was able to meet the coaches and do all that kind of stuff. So, yeah, I've been there twice and it's really nice."
A trio of suitors in the East also have La Rocque's attention.
"Vanderbilt is probably number two to Stanford," she shares. "They are very similar schools in my opinion. They have the academics and athletics. Their girls program is an elite program. The academics are elite, too - probably not as high as Stanford, but they're up there. I guess the only thing is the distance factor, and the location. I've never really been toward the East Coast, so I don't know much about that. I'm not ruling that out, which is why they're still high on my list."
"Boston College I think is a cool school," La Rocque continues. "I've never been there, but it's a private school. They're Catholic. I'm Catholic, so that's definitely a plus. Boston seems pretty cool."
Another Catholic school, which is a longstanding rival to the Eagles, has been high on her mind for years.
"Notre Dame was my sister's dream school forever," La Rocque explains. "She didn't get accepted this year, which kind of sucked. She and my dad went there this year and loved it. They told me all about it and showed me all the pictures. Notre Dame has actually been my dream school as well - ever since I was a little girl. Except, they have been really shady with the whole recruiting thing my freshman and sophomore years. Now recently, as of this last week or so, they have really shown a lot of interest. That's cool, except it's kind of wishy-washy a little bit."
"It's been my dream school ever since I was little, so I'm totally not going to count them out because they are my dream school," she says. "But there comes a time when I have to find out what's best for me."
With scholarship offers in hand from several of her top schools, La Rocque is in a position where she could soon make her college decision. She would like to play in July, however, to continue growing her options.
"I definitely want to make a decision before my senior season next year," La Rocque declares. "That seems like a long time, but it's not really. I can't take official visits until school starts, but I'm kind of to the point that I don't know if I want to wait that long to make a decision. The official visits are great, and the recruiting process is cool. It's fun to know that people want you. But it can get overwhelming. I'm leaning toward making a decision after the summer - after July, when the tournaments have kind of settled down and before school starts. That's where I'm thinking I want to make my decision, but stuff can happen that I might end up taking my visits."
"I want to narrow it down during the summer," she adds. "It's bad for coaches to recruit someone when they're not on the top of my list. That's kind of a waste of time for both of us. There have been some schools who saw me a little bit in April who are just now talking with me. I don't necessarily want to give everyone a chance, but we'll see who really shows interest."
There is no questioning the interest between Stanford and this Las Vegas sharpshooter. What remains an open issue is the admissions application process that La Rocque and all of her Cardinal-recruited peers in the Class of 2008 have to navigate. It turns out that her broken thumb in April was a blessing in disguise, affording her the chance to focus on the application and finish it Wednesday.
"It really was," she says. "Especially because I'm the student body president for our school. We had prom and all of this stuff going on. I couldn't play basketball because of my thumb, and it was probably the best thing that could have happened. I got my application, and we had prom the next week. That whole week I was doing prom stuff. These last two weeks I've been doing application stuff. I was thinking the other day exactly that - what if I had been playing? I've spent so many hours doing other stuff. I don't think I could have done it all or done it to my standards."
"I've been working on my application for a couple weeks," La Rocque groans. "You know how hard you work at it and how perfect you want it to be. It was a big relief for me to actually finish it. I'm kind of nervous, and I'm hoping for the best. I think it's pretty perfect, to my standards, and hopefully the admissions people will like it."
La Rocque owns a 4.57 weighted GPA at Durango with honors courses. Her unweighted 4.0 reflects the fact that she has never recorded a 'B' in high school. She is ranked in the top one percent of her junior class, currently standing #3 in a class of 429. La Rocque took the SAT for the first time as a sophomore and again in March, scoring an 1160 (640M, 520R, 490R). She has scheduled an SAT retake and the ACT back-to-back weekends in June.
"They've told me, 'We think you can get in,' and whatever. But they never know what the admissions people think," La Rocque says of the Cardinal coaches. "I'm really involved in my church and done mission trips. Pretty much the only thing that is sketchy is my test score. That's why I'm taking it again, so that I can do better on the SAT. This will also be my first time taking the ACT. I want to see if I do better on that because some people are really bad at the SAT but really good on the SAT, so I'll see how that works out."
With two unofficial visits to Stanford already in the book, an offer in hand and the first completed admissions application in this recruiting class, it stands to reason that La Rocque could be making a Cardinal commitment if and when she passes admissions on The Farm. She says: not so fast.
"If I get admitted, that is so awesome," La Rocque offers. "Stanford is really high on my recruiting list, but I wouldn't say it's 100 percent guaranteed that I would go there just because I get admitted. I think it would still be a pretty tough decision because some of the other schools, I haven't seen them. Stanford is one of the only campuses I have visited. It's kind of my school I compare everything else to. That gives them a plus. It's nothing I did on purpose; that's just how it happened."
"If I get admitted, great, I can say I was admitted to Stanford," she adds. "Even if I do end up going there, I don't think it would be an easy choice. It would definitely good to be admitted, though."
From La Rocque's comments, it appears this is a recruiting story that will stretch into August at the least. We'll watch for her Stanford admissions outcome and the winnowing of her school list during the summer months. Stay tuned for all the latest on this four-star shooting guard prospect.
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