POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Apr 15, 2011
The pipeline is flowing once again.
With the announcement on Wednesday that the Hawaii women's basketball team signed Ashleigh Karaitiana to a letter of intent for the 2011-12 season, UH tapped a resource it hasn't enjoyed for a few long years — talent from Down Under.
The signing of the 6-foot Karaitiana, out of Endeavour Sports High School in Sydney, brings much-needed depth to the UH backcourt, and is proof of progress toward one of UH coach Dana Takahara-Dias' pledges when she took over the program two years ago.
"That was one of our program's goals, was to re-establish recruiting ties with Australia," Takahara-Dias said. "We've had good success with Tanya Smith and Raylene Howard and Kylie Page Galloway. ... This is the fruits of the labors of our recruiting coaches to establish ties."
Then-UH assistant Serenda Valdez helped sow the seeds with a visit to Australia last summer, restoring a tradition set by former UH coach Vince Goo.
Karaitiana has the pedigree to be the next big thing; she has considerable national and international playing experience. Since 2006, when she competed in the Australia Under-16 National Championships, Karaitiana has traveled the world competing in all manner of youth tournaments.
Last year, she led the New South Wales State Youth League in scoring at 24.5 points a game to go with 9.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.6 steals. She also played with the Sydney Flames in the Australian Women's National Basketball League.
She was recruited by schools such as Santa Clara, Portland, South Dakota, UMass, BYU and Duke.
UH still has two scholarships to award for the 2011-12 season. Takahara-Dias said the biggest positions of need right now are at the point and in the post.