A Future in Mountaineering

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Keppel senior Lauren Saiki signs Letter of Intent to study and play basketball at West Virginia.

At Wednesday’s Letter of Intent signing at Mark Keppel High School: Front from left — Coach Gino Torres, Varsity head coach Joe Kikuchi, Lauren Saiki, assistant coach Krista Arase. Back — Frosh/soph coach Kylie Yoshimura, and Saiki’s parents, Lora M. Soo Hoo Saiki and Robert T. Saiki.

At Wednesday’s Letter of Intent signing at Mark Keppel High School: Front from left — Coach Gino Torres, Varsity head coach Joe Kikuchi, Lauren Saiki, assistant coach Krista Arase. Back — Frosh/soph coach Kylie Yoshimura, and Saiki’s parents, Lora M. Soo Hoo Saiki and Robert T. Saiki.

After a junior season largely wiped out by injury, Wednesday’s ceremony at Mark Keppel High School must have felt especially sweet for Lauren Saiki.

Saiki was among the high school student athletes nationwide taking part in Letters of Intent Day, and she marked the occasion by inking her name on an offer to attend West Virginia University and join their women’s basketball team.

Saiki is one of six signees an­nounced by Mountaineers women’s basketball coach Mike Carey for the 2015-16 season.

Saiki drives to the basket in the 2013 CIF Southern Section quarterfinals against Camarillo. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

Saiki drives to the basket in the 2013 CIF Southern Section quarterfinals against Camarillo. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

“I am very happy with the class,” said Carey, on the team’s website. “Based on need, we went out and got individuals that fit best what we do here at West Virginia University. We were looking for individuals that had high energy and leadership. All of these student-athletes are great in the classroom. We are continuing to build this program.”

Saiki, a senior from Monterey Park, missed the majority of her junior year due to a season-ending knee injury. All Star Girls Report listed Saiki as California’s 13th-best player in the 2015 class. As a sophomore, Saiki tallied 12.1 points and dished out 12.2 assists per game at Mark Keppel High. She garnered Second Team All-CIF honors.

Prior to her injury last season, Saiki was named MVP of the Mag­nolia Park Optimist Club Tourna­ment. This summer, she was part of the California Storm Team Taurasi squad that won the inaugural Nike Elite Youth Basketball National Championship.

“Lauren distributes the ball very well. She is a true point guard,” noted Carey. “She passes the ball as well as any point guard I’ve seen in years. She can also score, which keeps you honest. She’s going to be hard player to trap and press. Lauren is very aggressive on both ends.”

This fall and winter, Saiki will play her final season for head coach Joe Kikuchi, who is entering his third year at the helm of the Kep­pel program.

Joining Saiki in the WVU signing class are: Yassemeen Sa’Dullah out of Burbank High School; Anja Martin of San Antonio, Texas; Tynice Martin of Atlanta; Katrina Pardee of Cedar Park, Texas; and Marlena Schmidt of Eighty Four, Pennsylvania.

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