Women's Basketball Brings in Star-Studded Recruiting Class for 2010-11 Season
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Mike McLaughlin

NEW YORK - After setting a number of school records in 2009-10, including the most victories by a Columbia women's basketball team in an NCAA Division I season, head coach Paul Nixon welcomes a talented five-player recruiting class to the roster for the 2010-11 campaign. 

Courtney Bradford, Blaine Frohlich, Brianna Orlich, Nicole Santucci and Taylor Ward have all made commitments to join the Lions this fall.

"This year's recruiting class rivals the recently graduated Class of 2010 for the most talented group we've brought in during my time as the head coach here at Columbia," says Nixon, who is entering his sixth season at the helm in 2010-11. "The class has size, strength and athleticism, and any one of the five, if not all five, have the ability and potential to make immediate impacts as first-year student-athletes. Collectively, they will help continue the positive momentum our program established with our recently completed record-setting season."

Bradford, a 6-1 forward from Alpharetta, Ga., is a three-year varsity letterwinner and served as captain at Chattahoochee High School her senior year. Prior to playing for the Lady Cougars, Bradford attended Northview High and captained the Titans to a 17-8 record as a sophomore. Also a member of the Georgia Hoopstars Elite AAU Team, she was a National Achievement Scholarship Finalist and plans to double major in psychology and philosophy at Columbia.

Nixon on Bradford: "Courtney is a power post player who bypassed multiple Division 1 scholarship programs to play for Columbia in the Ivy League. Her work ethic is outstanding, and she is only going to continue improving throughout her collegiate career. She has the size and strength to make an immediate impact in the paint next season, particularly defensively and on the boards. She runs the floor well, has good hands and a soft touch around the rim with either hand. Courtney is also a natural leader, as evidenced by her selection as team captain at both high schools which she attended."

Frohlich will begin her career at Columbia after earning three letters at Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, Tenn. Frohlich was a three-time All-Big 9 and all-district first team selection, and was named the Most Promising Underclassman by the Johnson City Press following her freshman campaign. The 6-1 forward holds the Dobyns-Bennett school record for points in a game with 35, and averaged a double-double over her high school career (15.1 ppg, 10.8 rpg).

Nixon on Frohlich: "Blaine was one of the most highly sought-after prospects in the girls' basketball tradition-rich state of Tennessee, and we are pleased to have won the recruiting battle for her which included several other Ivy League schools. She is so excited to be attending her dream school in Columbia, and we are equally excited to see her take the court for us. What sets Blaine apart as a player is her active style of play on both ends of the court. She brings great athleticism to the forward position and has the potential to make an immediate impact for us scoring and rebounding."

Orlich put together one of the top senior campaigns in Clovis West High School history, averaging 21.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.2 steals per game en route to being named the Fresno Bee Player of the Year. The 5-10 guard scored 39 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to help the Eagles to a 61-57 victory over Santa Monica and into the Southern California Regional Division I Final for the first time in 16 years. Orlich, who was a McDonald’s All-America nominee, scored 1,377 points in her four-year career, is ranked the #82 senior shooting guard in the nation by ESPN’s HoopGurlz service and played AAU basketball for nationally-renowned Cal Storm Team Taurasi.

Nixon on Orlich: "Bri is one of the most heavily decorated recruits in the history of the Columbia program, and she chose Columbia after being courted by programs in the WAC and Big 12, among others. Her AAU team won the Nike Cup in Illinois last summer, which is one of the most competitive summer events in the nation. She was a starter on that team and her coach, George Quintero, raved about her work ethic.  Her high school coach, Craig Campbell, who also coached Lauren Dwyer in high school, echoed those feelings. Bri's father is the boys' basketball coach at her high school, and being a coach's kid myself, I know how much that helps with the basketball IQ. There is no doubt she is ready, willing and able to make an immediate impact in the Ivy League."

Santucci is a 6-4 post player from Beaverton, Ore.  and was an AAU teammate of Orlich’s on Cal Storm Team Taurasi. Santucci was a four-year letterwinner at Southridge High School and contributed to three Oregon 6A State Championships as a member of the Skyhawks. This past year, she was named honorable mention All-Metro and is rated as the #61 post player in the nation in the class of 2010 by ESPN's HoopGurlz recruiting site.

Nixon on Santucci: "Nicole brings legitimate Division 1 size to the center position. She is the tallest Lion since the graduation of Edytte Key in 2005. Like her incoming classmates, Nicole had multiple Division 1 offers which included some of our Ivy League peers. She is used to winning championships. The only season her high school team did not win the state title was her junior year, which she missed due to injury. She possesses great strength in addition to her height, and she will be a physical presence in the lane for us on both ends of the court. Her offensive skill set is solid and her ability to block or alter shots will help anchor our pressure defense."

Another McDonald’s All-America nominee, Ward played her high school basketball at Oregon City High and helped the Pioneers to an Oregon 6A State Championship in 2009. Ward averaged 22.0 points, 6.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 steals and was named first-team all state and team MVP as a senior. The 5-7 point guard advanced her team to the state semifinals this year, but dropped a 55-47 decision to fellow recruit Nicole Santucci and Southridge High. For her efforts, Ward was named to the all-tournament team.

Nixon on Ward: "Taylor is coming to Columbia from one of the most storied high school programs in the country. Being named MVP at Oregon City High School puts Taylor in some very select company with players who have gone on to successful careers at programs like Vanderbilt, Stanford and UC Santa Barbara, just to name a few. Her ability to score from the point or shooting guard positions while also helping to run the show offensively will help our team right away. Her ability to pressure the ball defensively will fit very nicely into our system, and we anticipate her making an impact in our program and within the Ivy League as early as this upcoming season."