SAINT LEO, Fla. – Less than a month before the Saint Leo women's basketball team is set to begin its 2013-14 regular season schedule, head coach Nikki Jessee has announced the addition of five newcomers to her roster.
Jessee's additions bring the total roster size to twelve.
5-7, Guard, So.
Kennesaw State University
Hailing from Miami, Fla., Guzman attended Monsignor Edward Pace High School where she competed under the guidance of Kellina Swan. While there, she was named to the All-County First Team after leading the county in scoring with 28 points-per-game. She was also named her team MVP and set a school record for assists. Guzman began her collegiate career in 2012 at Kennesaw State University before transferring to Saint Leo during the spring semester of 2013.
Jessee's thoughts: "Chachi is a special player. At the point position, she brings a steadiness by her ability to handle pressure, find the open man, attack the basket, as well as shoot the 3. She was the starting point guard as a freshman at Kennesaw State last season, which says a lot about her game by starting at a DI as a freshman. The point position is the hardest position on the floor, and Chachi makes it look effortless. We believe she is a key piece that we have been missing the last few years. We think she will be a big difference maker this season."
5-8, Guard, Fr.
Celebration High School
Originally from Kissimmee, Fla., Ortiz competed at Celebration High School in Orlando, Fla. under head coach Robert Mouchet. During her high school career, she scored over 1,000 points, in addition to averaging 14.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and three assists per game. Ortiz also played for the Orlando Blazers club team under Coach Richard Gerst.
Jessee's thoughts: "Gabby has already shown improvement in the weight room and through conditioning. She will look to use this year to develop her basketball IQ, understanding of our system, and what we expect out of our players."
6-0, Forward, Jr.
Saint Bruno Saint Louis High School
Born in Lyon, France, Jackson attended France's Saint Bruno Saint Louis High School under coach Fred Berger. Also while in France, she played for Team FC Lyon under Coach Pierre Bressant. Jackson attended Trinity Valley Community College and Baruch College before settling at Saint Leo in the spring semester of 2013.
Jessee's thoughts: "Melissa came back in the best shape of her life, and lost 10 pounds. She is a 6 foot forward who can step out and shoot the 3 with consistency. For us she can play the 4 or 5 position, which makes her versatile and hard to match-up with at times. She can take posts out on the perimeter, or smaller forwards inside to post up. "Frenchie" is a competitive and extremely hard worker and because of her work ethic and skill set, she will compete right away for major minutes. The forward position has been a huge missing piece for us the last few years, and with Ashlin and Frenchie we believe we have filled that need."
6-0, Forward, Fr.
John Paul College High School
Hailing from Brisbane, Australia, Taia graduated in 2011 from John Paul College High School, where she played for Coach Peter Foster. After graduation, Taia competed with the Brisbane Spartans under head coach Tony Stephens.
Jessee's thoughts: "Although Ashley is red-shirting this season, she brings a competitiveness at practice that can't be overlooked. She is an extremely skilled player who can do it all. This year will bring valuable experience to Ashley, as she learns our system and develops the work ethic we expect in the weight room and on the court. We believe she has the potential to become a very special player for us at Saint Leo. She is a 6 foot guard with the physical make-up of a post, who can shoot the 3, drive, pass, and post up. We're excited that she has 4 years of eligibility after this season, which will only make her even more deadly offensively as she develops this season."
5-11, Forward, So.
Las Vegas, Nev.
St. Anslem College
Born in Fayetteville, Ark., Gross attended high school in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she played at Bishop Gorman High School under head coach Sheryl Krmpotich. In 2011, Gross was named to the Iolani Classic All-Tournament Team for her play with the No. 22 Bishop Gorman squad. Before beginning her collegiate career at St. Anslem College, Gross also competed with the 24/7 Hoops club team under head coach Pat Amico.
Jessee's thoughts: "Ashlin spent the entire summer here at Saint Leo working out in the weight room and it shows as she gained over 15 pounds of muscle. She is a pure shooter who can shoot way behind the 3-point line. We expect her to play the forward position, and compete for minutes right away. Ashlin was a top 6 player in the country at her position as a freshman in high school before she became ill and missed the next few years of high school. She is just now getting her form back, and she has shown signs of exceptional play so far. Ashlin has a high basketball IQ which allows her to make everyone around her better with her passing and versatile play at 5'11."