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Colleges call upon local prep athletes

It's letter of intent signing season and the region's athletes are scrawling their signatures in rapid fashion.

Oregon Ducks basketball fans can gaze into the future on Dec. 5 when Yreka visits Crater High for a non-conference game.

Yreka senior Matt Short, who towers more than 7 feet in his shoes and is capable of playing both center and forward, signed a letter of intent to play for the Ducks last week.

That flexibility is what Oregon coach Ernie Kent liked more than anything.

He can stay low at center and block some shots or he can step out on the perimeter, Kent says. He plays like a 7-footer. Some guys that size don't play big, but Matt has long arms and a long body; he plays long.

Short is a familiar opponent to Southern Oregon players, who see him during summer league games as well as non-leaguers during the school season.

After playing three times in Oregon last winter, the Crater date will be his only appearance this season. Klamath Union (Dec. 28), North Valley (Dec. 30) and Phoenix (Dec. 12) venture to Yreka, where a tiny gym and a shot clock combine to produce a frantic pace.

I always enjoy having the Oregon teams here, Short says. I like having a shot clock, because I'm not really in favor of stalling-type games a lot of Oregon high schools run. We just go to Crater this year and I always have done pretty well at Crater.

So how does a player from Yreka become a recruiting target for Pac-10 schools, Sweet 16 teams and even Notre Dame?

Short was born in Seattle, moved to Redding, Calif., a few years later and then six years ago, his father relocated up I-5.

Yreka coach Mike Carpine saw his potential and helped get him in an invitation-only big man's camp. One thing led to another and Short was invited to play on a touring all-star team that was entered in national tournaments frequented by collegiate coaches. Short has been to Rick Majerus? camp in Utah and was considered one of the top-four big men in California.

Oregon got a long look at him during a team camp in Eugene last June.

Not many people know where Yreka is, Short says. I just say I'm from Northern California. If they're from North Carolina or Michigan, they're not going to know where I'm from.


Tai Kinney can now be considered a Golden Gopher golfer after signing with the University of Minnesota.

Kinney is a three-time Class 4A state tournament qualifier and finished second last spring. She won the Southern Oregon Conference championship as a freshman and junior.

Tai is a great addition to our program, says Minnesota coach Melissa Arthur. She is an extremely focused golfer and student. Not only did she qualify for the U.S. Junior Championship, she qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship as a junior golfer. That is something that does not happen a lot.

Kinney's softball teammate Steph Coe followed through on her verbal commitment in August to Nevada-Las Vegas, signing with the Rebels.

Coe has been North Medford's lead pitcher the past two seasons, earning second-team all-state honors last year and third team as a sophomore. She was a first-team all-state designated hitter as a freshman and sophomore.

Although it was tempting to follow her sister Missy's steps to the University of Oregon, Coe elected to strike out on her own.

When I was younger, I rooted for Oregon and when Missy went to Oregon, I thought it was cool, she says. But I decided to go to my own place and have my own name.

Las Vegas entered the picture early and Coe never gave serious consideration to Kansas or eastern colleges.

I thought Las Vegas would be a cool place to go with the big lights,? she says.


important in the recruiting game and so is timing.

Loyola Marymount caught Ashland's Jackie Woods at the right time, then sealed the deal for the 5-foot-11 jumping-jack.

A Loyola basketball official called Woods at her hotel room after an all-star tournament in Portland.

I was sharing the room with (Ashland teammate) Hanna Seltzer and I remember telling her that Loyola would be a perfect school for me.

Later in the summer, Loyola coaches showed up at a tournament in Chicago to watch Woods.

I decided to put them in my top-five, Woods says.

She stayed with former Jesuit star Kate Murray during her official visit to the Southern California campus and liked Loyola's setting well enough to cancel visits to Long Beach State or Santa Clara.

Loyola has a bunch of real athletic girls, Woods says. They push the ball hard and run. I could tell I really fit in with them and their style.

Reach reporter at 776-4483, or e-mail him at