FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark.) - Bianca Blanaru, Mariah Mitchell and McKinley Bostad signed National Letters of Intent joining the University of Arkansas women's basketball team for the 2014-15 season, Razorback head coach Tom Collen announced today.
Blanaru is a 6-5 forward from Timisoara, Romania and is considered one of the top three post players in Europe by Passion Hoops International. Mitchell is a 5-9 wing from McKinney, Texas, and Bostad is a 5-9 shooting guard from Kennadale, Texas, rounding out the early commitments.
Blanaru represented the Romanian U18 national team at the European Championships in 2012 and was a member of the U20 national team in 2013. She played for the BCM Danzio Timisoara club team in Romania.
Passion Hoops International had this to say about Blanaru:
"Big B...Bianca signs with Arkansas. The Razorbacks put on the sniper gear and hunted down the 6'5/6'6 agile post. She has been a hidden, young gem with a lot of potential! She is a big kid that will benefit greatly from the change of environment, and allow the Razorbacks to also gain in the process. Now the Razorbacks get focused on using her good hands, solid footwork and ability to post or face and shoot."
"Bianca has a chance to be the centerpiece of a great recruiting class," Collen said. "More important, she might be the post player with size that we have been searching for since we arrived. Players with this kind of ability are very hard to sign in the United States. There is somewhere between a handful and a dozen of these types of players in the entire country every year. We have worked very hard the past few years to develop relationships in Europe so that we can sign some of their talent. My assistant, Nicki, traveled to four or five countries this fall to evaluate and do home visits. I believe the hard work has paid off with Bianca. If she lived in the United States, she would be a Top 50 recruit.
"Bianca has a great physique," Collen continued. She is very physical, runs the floor well and has an excellent outside shot to compliment her inside game. She speaks English fluently and is a great student. She is also a great person so she will fit perfectly into our team-first philosophy."
Mitchell averaged 20 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game as a junior at McKinney High. She is a three-time all-district selection earning Offensive MVP honors as a sophomore and junior with her senior season just starting.
She was selected Newcomer of the Year, TGAC All-Region and All-Tournament team as a freshman adding player of the year and TAGC All-State and All-Region honors as sophomore. Her success continued last season with repeats in those honors along with All-State All-Tournament team honors as a junior.
Mitchell scored 37 points in a recent game against Killeen Shoemaker and is ranked No. 18 in the state of Texas by Girlz Prep Report.
"We are really pleased to sign Mariah," Collen said. "She attended our Elite Camp this summer and we all fell in love with her. She really attacks the basket hard. She has a great mid-range game as well as the ability to knock down the three and she is a great rebounder and free throw shooter. Mariah has the potential to be a great defender. We rated her as one of the top five guards in Texas and very underrated on the national level."
Bostand led her team to the 3A State Championship game in 2013. She averaged 15.0 ppg, 3.7 assists per game, 3.5 steals per game and 4.2 rebounds per game as a junior. She earned all-district, all-region and all-state honors and was selected to the TGCA All-State All-Tournament Team. She was rated as the 21st-best player in Texas by Premier Basketball Report and as No. 146 in the nation.
"McKinley is going to be a great addition to our team," Collen said. "I think she is the best pure shooter in Texas and one of the best shooters nationally that I watched the past two years. She is a versatile player that makes great decisions at both ends of the court. She will take a charge on one end then make an assist at the other end or get a steal and then make a game winning three-pointer. She just plays hard every minute she is on the floor. Her mother played college basketball and she has an uncle who coaches in the NFL. Competitive spirit is in her blood and every coach wants that on his team."
"We still have a couple of scholarships and would certainly entertain signing another player that we believe can be impactful, but we are pretty comfortable with our roster right now and need to give a lot of the younger players on our roster a chance to show how they can develop," he continued.