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Gonzaga Women Ink Three

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SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University women's basketball head coach Kelly Graves has announced the signing of three players to national letters of intent. Joining the Zags next fall is Lexi Bando, a 5-8 guard from Willamette high school in Eugene, Ore., Jill Barta, a 6-3 forward from Fairfield high school in Fairfield, Mont., and Georgia Stirton, a 5-8 point guard from North Idaho College who hails from Melbourne, Australia.

"This is a terrific recruiting class, with some definite impact players who could become some of the all-time great Zags," stated Graves. "We definitely filled some needs that we had, especially on the guard line.  I love that each player comes from a winning tradition—I've always felt that's an important ingredient.  I also love that they are very unselfish and team-first players.  It's a very athletic and highly skilled class for sure."

Lexi Bando (Guard, 5-8, Eugene, Ore./Willamette High)

Lexi Bando is considered one of the best combo guards in the country by most scouting services. A 2013-14 McDonald's All-America nominee, Bando was named Oregon Class 5-A First Team All-State, First Team All-State Tournament, and First Team All-League as she led her Willamette high school team to the Oregon 5-A State Championship as a junior. She averaged 23.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 steals, and 4.0 assists per game.


She scored 23 points and had six rebounds in the state championship game; including key free throws down the stretch to ice Willamette's second state championship in five years (the other was when current Zag Sunny Greinacher led the Wolverines). Bando was also named to the USA Today All-Oregon First Team. 


As a sophomore, she averaged 17.0 points and 4.0 rebounds and again was named All-League first team, All-State first team, and All-State Tournament first team as they finished runner-up in the state tourney.  She plays for Paul Brothers in high school and Gary Lavender from Oregon Elite Basketball Club.


"Lexi is the total package as far as I'm concerned," said Graves. "She has a high basketball I.Q. and a fierce competitive drive.  She's been a winner at all levels and understands what it takes to compete and win—traits that make a great Zag and great teammate.  Lexi is a tremendous 3-point shooter but has the ability to attack the basket as well as slide over and play the point.  And I love the way she can defend—she's quick, tough and long.  I'm excited about Lexi's future here."


Jill Barta (Power Forward, 6-3, Fairfield, Mont./Fairfield High)


Jill Barta is one of the most decorated players in Montana history and certainly the winningest. Through three years as a varsity starter, she is 78-0 (longest winning streak in Montana high school history) with three state championships. 


This past season as a junior, Barta was named First Team All-League, First Team All-State as well as the State Tournament Most Valuable Player. She averaged 17.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.4 blocks and 3.8 steals per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line, all a testament to her amazing versatility and team play. She was also named to the Great Falls Tribune Super State Team. As a sophomore, Barta put up similar numbers across the board while again being named to the All-League, All-State, State All-Tournament and Great Falls Tribune Super State Team. She plays for Dustin Gordon.


"Jill is an incredible athlete with an amazing upside," explained Graves. "Her versatility reminds me so much of Kayla Standish in her ability to play inside and outside. Her skill set is unique for her size—she can hit the 3-point shot, can post you up, handles it like a guard and is an exceptional passer. She's very good defensively and tough on the boards—there really isn't anything on the basketball floor that she can't do. If she played in a bigger city or on a more prestigious club team, she'd be considered one of the top prospects in the country.  And she's a winner, a competitor, a great teammate and a really nice young woman."


Georgia Stirton (Point Guard, 5-8, Melbourne, Australia/North Idaho College)


Georgia Stirton was named Second Team Junior College All-America by the NJCAA last season as she led her North Idaho College Eagles to the National Tournament. She was named Region 18 Player of the Year averaging 8.8 points, 3.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.


Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Stirton played for the Waverly Falcons basketball club and was twice named Most Valuable Player, receiving rising star nominations.  She is trained in Australia by former NBA player Sedale Threatt. She is coached at NIC by Chris and Carey Carlson. 


"Georgia is an outstanding point guard with an amazing savvy about her," stated Graves. "Her ability to get to the rim and set her teammates up set her apart as one, if not the, best JC point guard in the country.  She is a great organizer in the half court but can push it in transition.  She's a very good shooter and even though she doesn't look to score as much with her current team, I feel she has the ability to be a scoring point guard as well.  She has been so well-coached and has a great understanding of the game.  Her personality and game will be a great fit for our program and her experience will be important to our young guards."