November 9, 2011

Eagles Sign Two Post Players to National Letters of Intent

Eastern gains valuable size inside with 2012-13 recruiting class

The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team is building its depth in the post.

On Wednesday (Nov. 9) during the early signing period, head coach Wendy Schuller announced the signing of 6-foot forward CeCe Pearl out of Peoria (Ariz.) High School, and 6-4 center Hanna Mack out of Marist High School in Eugene, Ore.

"Based on what our roster looks like right now, we knew we wanted to sign a four and a five," said Schuller. "We feel we found two players who really fit what we're looking for in terms of basketball, and also the quality of person. CeCe and Hanna are both great athletes, but they are awesome people as well. When they came in on their visits, you could tell they really enjoyed their time on campus, and the current players on our team felt like they were great fits."

As a junior at Peoria High School, Pearl helped lead her team to a 17-7 overall record and a share of the 4A West Valley Region title. The Panthers rolled through conference play with an 11-1 record. Following the season, Pearl was selected to the Arizona Republic 4A All-State Honorable Mention team.

Pearl proved her value on both ends of the floor during her junior campaign, as she averaged 14.4 points and 1.6 assists per game, as well as 6.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks.

"CeCe brings an all-around game," said Schuller. "She is a great rebounder with really nice hands in the paint, and also does a good job of putting it on the floor and making things happen."

"But the one thing that probably excited us the most when recruiting her was hearing from her coaches about her work ethic and attitude. It's great to bring in players who you envision as future leaders on the team. You always worry about the basketball part, but over the years, I've learned that leadership is as important as the rest of it. CeCe is really going to fit into that mold. Her coaches described her as the "mayor" of her high school. She is that kind of person who gets to know everyone and who other players gravitate toward."

At 6-4, Mack represents the tallest player signed by Schuller since the 2006-07 season. Mack has excelled in both basketball and volleyball at Marist.

In the 2010 volleyball season, Mack led the Spartans to their first-ever state tournament bid at the 5A level. Marist earned the bid after defeating rival Hermiston in the playoffs - a match in which Mack had nine kills.

During her junior campaign in basketball, Mack battled some injuries that kept her off the court in the second half of the season. But before being sidelined, she was averaging 7.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game.

"The upside with Hanna is really exciting," said Schuller. "She is a dual-sport athlete now, but we expect her to grow a lot as a player when she is able to focus just on basketball."

As a sophomore, Mack helped lead the Spartans to a second-place finish in the 4A Sky-Em league. Marist was 10-2 in conference and finished the year with a 19-9 overall record. Mack averaged 3.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

"For 6-4, Hanna is a really good athlete," added Schuller. "When we recruit a post player, we are looking for someone who can run and catch. Hanna jumps well and jumps quickly. She doesn't move like she's 6-4."

When Mack comes to Eastern in 2012-13, she will have three upperclassmen in the post to learn from, as Carrie Ojeda and Courtney Nolen will be seniors and Laura Hughes a junior.

"Hanna is in a great position coming in," said Schuller. "Because we will have two senior posts, as well as Laura as a junior next year, Hanna will not be in position where she has to put a lot of pressure on herself. The best post players I have seen are the ones who have time to develop gradually. With what our roster looks like, Hanna will be able to do that. We are very excited to see what kind of player she can be."

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