No. 11 Erica McCall Stays Out West

No. 11 Erica McCall Stays Out West
No. 11 Erica McCall Stays Out WestErica McCall

For Erica McCall, the No. 11 ranked senior in the country, the decision to commit to Stanford came with timing that is a little different than the usual Cardinal recruit.  Tara VanDerveer is used to quick decisions, so when entire months past after McCall was admitted to The Farm, doubt could easily have crept into the coaching staff’s minds.

“After I got accepted I was really exited,” McCall said.  “But I didn’t want to commit just because I was excited.”

McCall, who is the half-sister of former Auburn standout and current Phoenix Mercury wing DeWanna Bonner, had a pretty clear set of expectations for what she wanted from a school.  She wanted a combination of excellent academics, a connection with the coaching staff, a winning program and development for the professional ranks.

Her finalists were Connecticut and UCLA in addition to the Cardinal.  And obviously the Connecticut Huskies are one of the most storied programs in women’s basketball, but UCLA intrigued McCall for a different reason, she would parallel her sister’s career at Auburn.  Bonner was the first player in Auburn history to lead the SEC in scoring in 2008-09.

“That’s why I think I considered UCLA so much,” McCall said, “because I saw what she accomplished at Auburn.”

But ultimately McCall, who calls Bakersfield, Calif., home, found too much of what she wanted in Stanford to pass up the opportunity.

“Tara VanDerveer is a coach,” McCall said.  “I love the way she coaches and develops players.”

In playing for VanDerveer McCall will experience a a bit of a change as she has spent most of her amateur career playing for male coaches, such as Elbert Kinnebrew, her Cal Sparks club team coach.  And growing up the daughter of a Division I coach, her father Greg is the head coach at Cal State-Bakersfield, getting basketball advice and training from men has been the norm.

“It’ll be a little different playing for a female coach but I think she’s the best to develop me.”

At 6 feet 3, McCall has chosen a program known for its talent in the frontcourt.  And her commitment comes at an important time as post Nneka Ogwumike graduated last season and her younger sister, Chiney, is a junior this season.  The Cardinal signed two posts in 2012, Alyson Beebe of Santa Maria, Calif., and Tess Picknell of Medford, Ore., but lost Beebe this fall to season-ending knee injury.

McCall will be joined in the 2013 class by Kailee Johnson of Portland, Ore., who is a 6-4 forward and is ranked 20th in the class, as well as guards Karlie Samuelson of Huntington Beach, Calif., Briana Roberson of Fullerton, Calif., and Khaliya Thompson of Mansfield, Texas.

Adding the two inside players will solidify the depth of talent in the paint that has been the hallmark of the Stanford teams that play on the last week of the season.

McCall is a physical, workhorse inside player who outworks her opponent every time she steps on the court.  It is her size, athleticism and energy that helped her make the USA Basketball cadet national teams the past two summers, earning her FIBA Gold in 2012 in the Americas tournament and a World Championship this summer in Amsterdam.

But McCall knows that effort alone won’t get her to her ultimate goal of playing in the WNBA.

“I definitely need to work on slowing down my game on the offensive side because I’ve been rushing,” McCall said.

Her assessment is spot on, but what else would you expect from a coach’s daughter and a pro’s little sister?

And as coach VanDerveer learned this recruiting season that sometimes it’s good to play the waiting game.

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