Four Gophers sports sign recruits on National Signing Day

Minnesota inked players to its men's basketball, women's basketball, volleyball and softball teams.
By
  • DAILY STAFF
November 15, 2012
Editor's Note: Wednesday was National Signing Day for college athletics — the first day each fall that schools can sign recruits in certain sports. Four Gophers teams have already announced their signings.

Men’s basketball

The Gophers men’s basketball team inked two recruits from the Chicago area Wednesday.

Alvin Ellis and Alex Foster each signed letters of intent. They are the first two recruits for head coach Tubby Smith in 2013.

“Feels like a great day to sign!” Foster tweeted Wednesday.

Foster, a 6-foot-8-inch forward from Seton Academy in South Hollan, Ill., is ranked a three-star recruit and the 11th best prospect in Illinois by ESPN.

Ellis, who is Foster’s former teammate at DeLaSalle High School in Chicago, is also a three-star recruit and the ninth-ranked prospect in Illinois.

Ellis, a 6-foot-4-inch, 185-pound guard, verbally committed to Minnesota before Foster, and the two will play together again at Williams Arena in 2014.

“Alvin and Alex are great additions to our team due to their skill sets,” Smith said in a press release.

Women’s basketball

Combo guards Joanna Hedstrom and Stabresa McDaniel signed national letters of intent Wednesday to join the Gophers women’s basketball team next fall.

Hedstrom is a senior at Minnetonka High School. Blue Star Basketball lists her as a four-star recruit, and ESPN.com lists her as the 25th-best player in the nation at her position.

Hedstrom’s mother, Mary (Dressen) Hedstrom played basketball at Minnesota from 1981-84.

“She’s just a very heady, high-basketball-IQ point guard,” Gophers head coach Pam Borton said. “She’s an up-tempo point guard [and] runs a team extremely well.”

Borton said Hedstrom had interest from other Big Ten schools and Big 12 schools, too.

McDaniel is in her last year at Skyline High School in Dallas. She’s a three star recruit, and ESPN.com ranks her as the 56th-best player at her position.

As a junior, McDaniel made the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches All-Region Team and was named to the all-district first team.

“She brings a lot of power, explosiveness, strength and athleticism to the guard position,” Borton said. “Her body is already college-built. It’s not going to take her two years to get on the floor.”

Gophers associate head coach Curtis Loyd is from Dallas, and Borton said Loyd was instrumental in McDaniel’s recruitment.

Volleyball

The Gophers volleyball team signed four new recruits to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday.

Tyler-Marie “Kalei” Mau from Kahaluu, Hawaii; Katie Schau from Richland, Mich.; and twins Hannah Tapp and Paige Tapp from Stewartville, Minn., will all join Minnesota as freshmen next season.

“We’re excited to have Kalei, Katie, Hannah and Paige join the Golden Gopher Volleyball family,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said in a release. “Not only are they talented athletes, but [they are] outstanding individuals who also excel in the classroom. This is a versatile group with a great work ethic.”

Mau is a 6-foot-1-inch outside hitter who has played for St. Francis High School and Asics Rainbows Volleyball Club – the same club as former Gophers setter and Olympian Lindsey Berg.

“My biggest goal growing up was to play volleyball at the highest level,” Mau said in the release. “To do that, I had to gain the strength to leave my islands and play in the mainland to pursue my dream.”

Schau is a 5-foot-8-inch setter and plays for Gull Lake High School and the Dead Frog Volleyball Club.

“Minnesota seemed like an awesome place to play,” Schau said in the release. “I loved the environment, and there is such a great coaching staff. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this.”

Hannah Tapp is a 6-foot-2-inch middle blocker, and Paige Tapp is a 6-foot-1-inch middle blocker. Both play with Stewartville High School and the Mizuno Northern Lights Volleyball Club.

The pair said they felt Minnesota was the best fit for them.

“I thought it was the most well-rounded school when considering both academics along with athletics,” Hannah Tapp said in the release. “I’m very excited to be a part of their phenomenal program.”

“I fell in love with all aspects of the U and knew that it was the right place for me,” Paige Tapp said in the release. “I love the coaching staff, the players and the volleyball program that I will get to join next year.”

The incoming freshmen are expected to replace the four graduating seniors in fall 2013.

Softball

The Gophers softball team announced Wednesday that it had signed three players to National Letters of Intent for 2013-14.

Hannah Evavold, Sam Macken and Sara Groenewegen will join the team next year.

“Each year, as a staff, our goal is to recruit quality individuals with the skill set and work ethic needed to help us reach our mission of a Big Ten championship,” head coach Jessica Allister said in a release. “We accomplished that goal with this class.”

Allister said in the release that Evavold, a pitcher, has impressed the team with her “skill set, her work capacity and her ability to accept and apply coaching.”

Groenewegen is also a pitcher, but she will likely have an opportunity to hit, too. Allister said in the release that the Gophers "look forward to her contributions on both sides of the ball."

Minnesota graduated pitcher Alissa Koch last year and currently has three pitchers on its roster — ace Sara Moulton, sophomore Kelsey Kimminau and freshman Nikki Anderson.

Macken is an infielder, and Allister said in the release that she “has the versatility to compete at any of the infield positions.”

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