Sports, Women's Basketball


Editor’s note: On the day that Long Beach State plays USC, the Daily 49er takes a look back at a major recruit’s decision that had an impact on both programs.

Lisa Leslie, the most coveted high school basketball player in the country, was so close to signing a national letter of intent to play for Cal State Long Beach, head coach Joan Bonvicini was drooling.

But as in most instances, close does not count, and after getting cold feet on Wednesday, the day before she was to finalize her plans to become a 49er, Leslie changed her mind and on Monday announced she would play for the USC Women of Troy next fall.

“I felt USC offered me a chance to get a better education,” Leslie said. “I know, and society knows, that USC is one of the most prestigious universities in the country. I definitely was leaning toward Long Beach last week. On Wednesday, I felt like I should start calling people because I realized I was not quite ready.”

Leslie said for most the recruiting season she had planned on attending USC, but after visiting the 49er campus a couple of weekends ago she said she was not so sure.

“I visited Long Beach and suddenly, Long Beach was playing a big role in my decision,” she said.

Leslie, who once scored 101 points in one half last season, said it was a tough choice but she is very happy with her decision.

“The pros for Long Beach,” she said, “were the team and the coaches. I also liked the way they set my major up for me in either pre-med, communications or business.”

Leslie also said it was not a last-minute deal that ripped her away from the 49ers, but purely a decision she made on her own.

“It wasn’t a matter of USC giving me anything the last few days,” she said. “It was just something I felt in my heart.”

Another factor that weighed in Leslie’s mind was the strength of the recruiting class USC head coach Marianne Stanley was already able to secure, she said.

Two other top players in the state, Linda Watson of Lynwood High School and Jaualeah Woods of Berkeley High School, both good friends with Leslie, have already committed to play for USC.

The signing of Woods makes it a coup for USC as far as the state’s tops centers go. It also adds to the frustration of Bonvicini, who was also actively trying to sign Woods.


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