LOGAN, Utah – Utah State women’s basketball head coach Raegan Pebley is excited to announce the signing of four new members for the 2011-12 roster including, Elise Nelson, Xava Grooms, Brooke Beckstead and Franny Vaaulu.”What an outstanding class,” Pebley said. “We feel that we got exactly what we set out to get with each of our signees. We knew we needed a long athletic point guard that loved defense (Nelson), an impact post who is a complete basketball player (Vaaulu), an athletic and creative wing who values rebounding (Grooms) and an all-around great shooter (Beckstead).”Nelson, a 5-8 point guard and native of Springfield, Ore., joins the Aggies from Thurston High School where she averaged 17 points per game with season-highs including 31 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists.”Elise is a fierce competitor who thrives in an up-tempo style of play,” Pebley said. “Her foot speed and length allows her the ability to be a great defensive presence.”Nelson was named the Oregon State 5A Player of the Year in the Midwestern League and also has relatives in the Cache Valley area. Nelson competed for the Oregon Elite Club basketball team where a handful of teammates also signed National Letters of Intent for D-1 basketball programs today.”Elise will bring to the Aggies the spirit of a champion that will endear her to the Aggies staff and fans. She has the moral strength, physical talent and mental toughness that will help elevate USU to the next level of success on and off the court,” said Oregon Elite Club coach Gary Lavender.Vaaulu, a 6-3 center, native of Los Angeles, Calif., will join the squad from Warren High School. Vaaulu, who was also very highly recruited as a pitcher by D-I softball programs around the nation, picked basketball for her college career sport.”I am excited and it feels great,” Vaaulu siad. “I can’t wait to be an Aggie, I love those girls at Utah State but it will also be sad to leave home.” Vaaulu also considered the Aggies’ in-state rival, Brigham Young.”From the first time we watched Franny play, we believed that she was going to be an Aggie,” Pebley said. “Even though she was being recruited by some of the nation’s best and ranked among the highest, there was something that lead me to believe she would end up in Aggie blue and white.”According to ESPN Hoopgurlz, Vaaulu is the No. 21 ranked post player in the country. She was also been named first-team all-league in the San Gabriel Valley League. Vaaulu also competed for the Cal Sparks basketball club team.”We at Cal Sparks basketball are thrilled that Franny will be joining the Utah State Women’s basketball program,” said coach Elbert Kinnebrew. “Franny will bring a unique skill set to Logan in that she is an extremely powerful player who possess a soft shooting touch from long range.” Vaaulu averaged 13 ppg, 14 rebounds and also swats down an average 2.5 blocks while adding 2.0 assists per game.”We believed that Utah State has as much to offer her as any of the other schools who offered her,” Pebley added. “Franny’s potential far exceeds her already impressive stats, awards, ranking and current success. With hard work and commitment, she can make a massive impact on our program.”Grooms, a forward standing 6-0, hails from Granada Hills, Calif. (Granada Hills HS) and will graduate from the same high school current Aggie junior Reyneisha Mays attended.”I’m really excited about coming out there,” Grooms said. “I’m excited about becoming better friends and teammates with the girls out there.”She averages, 12 ppg, 9.0 rpg, three spg and two bpg while in high school. Grooms, who plans to major in engineering, looks to follow in the footsteps of her father Henry Grooms, who is an award winning Engineer.”What a special athlete Xava is,” Pebley said. “She is explosive, quick, fast and poised. She is a very similar player to Amber White. Xava has an instinct for rebounding as well which is something coaches have a hard time teaching players.”Last but not least, Beckstead, a 5-10 guard out of Preston, Idaho, is the most local of the four newcomers.”It is pretty exciting to get everything signed and for it to be official,” Beckstead siad. “The team was so much fun and my visit and I am excited to get to know the girls and get to play close to home. It will be great to have the home town support and support form Cache Valley. I am also looking forward to my season this year and the the years to come.”Beckstead competes as a Preston High School Indian where she averaged 14.5 ppg, 6 rpg and netted an outstanding 43 three pointers during her junior year.”Brooke has felt like apart of our program for a long time and we are thrilled that it is now official,” Pebley added. “Brooke has proven to work hard to improve her game which is a necessary trait to be a successful collegiate athlete.”Beckstead has also been named to the first-team all-Area and second-team all-State along with earning the Most Valuable Player award at Preston high school her junior year.”They each came from winning high school and summer club teams that do a great job of preparing their players for the next level,” Pebley added. “Elise, Xava, Brooke, and Franny not only are excellent basketball players, but they are young women who will represent Utah State and our program with pride.”The Aggies begin regular season action Friday, Nov. 12 as they host Dixie State in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum at 4 p.m.2010-11 SigneesElise Nelson, 5-8, G, Springfield, OR (Thurston HS)Franny Vaaulu, 6-3, C, Los Angeles, Calif. (Warren HS)Xava Grooms, 6-0, F, Granada Hills, Calif. (Granada Hills HS)Brooke Beckstead, 5-10, G, Preston, Idaho (Preston HS)-USU-
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