Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
South Medford senior basketball standout Ashley Bolston and St. Mary's senior golfer Dylan Wu signed letters of intent on Wednesday. The 17-year-old Bolston, a versatile 6-foot-2 forward, will play for NCAA Division I Washington State University. Wu, the defending 3A/2A/1A state champion who has helped guide the Crusaders to three straight team titles, is headed for Division I Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
Bolston landed a spot on the first-team all-state list as a junior and was also the Southern Oregon Hybrid player of the year. She averaged 14.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 blocks a game last winter for the Panthers, whose bid for second straight Class 6A state title came up short against Central Catholic in the final.
Many schools pursued Bolston, including Oregon, Loyola Marymount, Arizona State, San Diego State, Santa Clara, UNLV, New Mexico, Washington and Oregon State.
"I have a couple boxes (of letters from schools)," Bolston said.
Bolston verbally committed her junior year to the Cougars, who finished 11-20 overall and 6-12 in the Pac-12 last winter.
WSU head coach June Daughtery saw Bolston play in Arizona that summer and later visited Medford to see her in open gyms.
Bolston has visited Pullman, Wash., a couple times.
"She really likes the staff," South Medford head coach Tom Cole said. "She feels like she could be a very good fit. For someone who is as competitive as she is, it bodes well for her and Washington State."
Said Bolston: "They play the same system we play. With the coaches and the team, I immediately bonded with them."
Signing was a relief, Bolston said.
"It was nice so we can focus on the season and you don't have to worry about getting recruited," she said.
Bolston is about an inch taller and has further developed her shot and ball handling, Cole said. She played for the Northwest Blazers during most of the summer.
Bolston was named a McDonald's All-American nominee and is rated three stars by ESPN.com and ranked the No. 106 overall prospect in the country by girlsbasketballreport.com.
"In my opinion, she is the top defensive player in the state," Cole said. "With her size and length she has been a nemesis to guards. At 6-2 she is the size of a post player but versatile enough to play offense and has a guard skill set that makes her a threat."
The Panthers begin their season at the Southridge Tournament on Dec. 5.
Wu accepted a scholarship offer from Wildcats coach Pat Goss in April. He signed in front of the entire school during an assembly on Wednesday.
He said he was "quite nervous" and later "thrilled" once he put pen to paper.
"This eases me up so I can focus on my golf now," said Wu, who visited Northwestern Jan. 23-24.
The 17-year-old Wu also made visits to Stanford, Cal, Pepperdine and Washington and generated interest from Harvard and Michigan.
Wu will next compete in the Jones Cup Junior Invitational in Sea Island, Ga., in December. High school practice at St. Mary's begins in late February, Wu said.
Wu will continue to play hockey for North Medford. The right defender has participated in the sport since he was 5.
"It's a good hobby," he said.
On the golf course, he continues to improve.
"I am pretty pleased with my game," said Wu, who has added some more muscle after doing exercises like plyometrics under the guidance of a personal trainer. "I had a good summer and have been working with my coach on focusing on getting back my driving accuracy and hitting more fairways. I have gained a lot of distance off the tee, but my accuracy is not as great as it used to be. And I'm paying a lot of attention to my short game and making sure that it is always impeccable."
North Medford softball player Alexis Barkwell signed with Division II Dixie State (located in St. George, Utah) on Wednesday. She was a second-team SOH pitcher last spring for the two-time defending 6A state champion Black Tornado.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him online at facebook.com/danjonesmt or twitter.com/dljcards