By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — When Oklahoma and Gonzaga tip off their 7 p.m. Preseason WNIT semifinal at Lloyd Noble Center tonight, so much of the future of coach Sherri Coale’s program will be on display alongside the present day.
True freshman Gioya Carter and T’onya Edwards are already averaging 21.5 and 14.5 minutes of respective court time through the season’s first two games. Also, newcomers Derica Wyatt and Shaya Kellogg are averaging 8 and 7 minutes.
Further, that doesn’t include Kaylon Williams, who’s averaging 13 points and eight rebounds and who has two years left in the program following this season, nor Maddie Manning, who’s out for the season with a torn ACL, yet has three years left in the program upon her return.
If that makes for an exciting time for the Sooner women, it likely became more exciting Wednesday, when Coale’s latest recruiting class came together on the fall’s version of national signing day.
“We are so excited about this signing class,” Coale said. “Their respective skill sets are diverse and yet so complementary of one another. Their individual and collective potential on the basketball court is massive, but who these young women are and what they aspire to do with their lives beyond basketball is even more impressive.”
The quartet includes Gabrielle Ortiz from The Prairie School in Racine, Wis.; Gilyesa Penzo from Guayanbo, Puerto Rico, by way of Montverde (Fla,) Academy; Vionese Pierre-Louis from Grandview Prep in Lake Worth, Fla.; and LaNesia Williams, an Oklahoma Citian attending Northeast Academy.
Ortiz is a flat-out prize, ranked the No. 4 point guard and the No. 14 overall prospect in the nation by ESPN HoopGurlz. As a high school junior, standing 5-9, she averaged 20.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.4 steals last season.
“I fell in love with Gabbi Ortiz’s game the very first time I watched her play,” Coale said. “She’s just a magician with the ball in her hand.”
Penzo, also a 5-9, guard, already has international play on her resume, after twice representing Puerto Rico at the FIBA Americas U16 Championships.
Coale calls Penzo “one of the most focused and determined 16-year-olds I have ever met … She plays the game with a joyful abandon that’s contagious.”
Pierre-Louis is a 6-4 post ranked No. 11 in the nation at her position and No. 83 overall. As a high school junior, she averaged 22.1 points, 14 rebounds and 6.7 blocked shots.
“Vivi has such a high ceiling,” Coale said.”
Williams, meanwhile, led Northeast, along with Carter, her former Viking and future Sooner teammate, to a perfect record and a Class 4A state championship last season.
The present-day Sooners are managing fairly well. They’ll enter tonight’s game ranked No. 11, facing the No. 25 Bulldogs, with the winner earning a shot at the winner of No. 5 Louisville and No. 14 LSU.
If OU gets there, the Preseason WNIT championship game will commence at 3 p.m. Sunday, back inside Lloyd Noble Center.
There’s a lot to take in, and still more on the way.
Follow me @clayhorning
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