AURORA | The last and biggest domino has now fallen for the Regis Jesuit girls basketball team, as Colorado player of the year Diani Akigbogun verbally committed to the University of Texas over the weekend.
The 6-foot forward/center had a host of Division I pursuers in the wake of a 2012-13 season that saw her win Gatorade Colorado Player of the Year, Continental League Player of the Year, Aurora Sentinel Player of the Year and the Most Valuable Player of the Show all-star game, but she finally landed on the Longhorns.
The most physical force in Aurora basketball, Akigbogun averaged 13.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game and gave coach Carl Mattei’s Class 5A state championship team a big advantage in the paint.
Mattei got a call from Akigbogun on Saturday night from Austin, Texas, where she had just watched the Texas football team beat Kansas State. She canceled a scheduled trip to Baylor after making her commitment to the Longhorns, a program ranked in the top 10 in NCAA women’s basketball. Michigan and Southern California had also been in the mix.
“It’s very, very exciting to see Diani go to Texas; there are 128 kids signing Division I out of Texas this year and they came here and found Diani, that shows me how good they think she can be,” Mattei said Monday.
Akigbogun, who carries a 4.0 GPA, is interested in a possible double major of business and law and found Texas’ offering to her liking.
The final commitment seals Mattei’s “six-pack” of seniors who have all pledged to college programs.
Just prior to Akigbogun, reserve forward Neffie Lockley committed to Howard and post Jordyn Molyneaux decided on Seton Hall.
Along with Akigbogun, forward Justine Hall — Regis Jesuit’s leading scorer last season at 17.0 points per game — committed to Purdue earlier, giving the Raiders two recruits going to programs that finished last season ranked in the top 16 in NCAA women’s basketball.
Versatile guard/forward Kelsi Lidge (Drexel) and sharpshooting guard Anna Ptasinski (Lafayette), the first of the six to commit, also have chosen their schools, leaving them free to focus on their defense of last season’s state championship.
“These kids all picked programs with great academic institutions; then the better players are going to top 20 teams in the country,” Mattei said. “They’ve only lost seven games in their high school careers and they don’t expect to lose this year. For Diani and Justine, they both could have a chance to make a Final Four or play for a national championship.”
Mattei ranks Akigbogun going to Texas and Hall to Purdue among the top handful of signings in school history, which now includes a whopping 31 Division I scholarships in just 10-plus seasons.
The others Mattei ranks among the program’s biggest recruiting highlights are Katie Heckman (who signed with Duke in 2011), Mariah Williams (who went to UCLA in 2009), Aija Putnina (who picked Colorado in 2006) and Mindy Nielson, a 2007 Brigham Young signee.
Amazingly enough, six is not even the biggest number of Division I players on a roster at the same time in Regis Jesuit’s short history.
That distinction goes to the 2008-09 team, which won the program’s first 5A state championship behind seven D-I players: Williams (UCLA), Meghan Winters (Gonzaga), T’Keyah Shealy (Pepperdine), Diana Rolniak (Utah), Mary Bokenkamp (Texas Tech), Kelsey Roben (Montana State) and Ruta Zuraskyte (Santa Clara).
2013 REGIS JESUIT GIRLS BASKETBALL VERBAL COMMITMENTS
Diani Akigbogun (Texas), Justine Hall (Purdue), Kelsi Lidge (Drexel), Neffie Lockley (Howard), Jordyn Molyneaux (Seton Hall), Anna Ptasinski (Lafayette)
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel