The Miami Hurricanes women’s basketball program may have found its first Latin American star since point guard Maria Rivera of Puerto Rico averaged 21.1 points for her career and broke Rick Barry’s school scoring records in the mid-1980s.
Her name is Laura Quevedo, a 6-1 freshman forward from Spain who is due to arrive on campus in July.
She has led Spain to the Under-16 and Under-18 European Championships gold medals in the past three years.
“She’s considered the top young player in Spain,” Canes coach Katie Meier said. “She has a maturity to her game. We think she can be a point forward because she is a great facilitator who makes good tempo decisions.
“Laura has a nice perimeter shot with great touch. She’s not that big, but she’s bold.”
Meier is hoping Quevedo can help Miami get back to the NCAA Tournament.
They finished a disappointing 16-15 this season, settling for a WNIT bid and losing at home in the first round to Stetson.
The Hurricanes, though, will have eight players at their disposal this upcoming season that they could not use in 2013-2014.
Three of those are players Meier called the “sweat-suit brigade” because they were on the Canes’ bench not available.
That group included junior guard Michelle Woods and highly touted freshman guard Nigia Greene, who were injured.
In addition, point guard Aisha Edwards, who will be a freshman this fall, arrived at midseason but was red-shirted.
The incoming class also includes forwards such as Quevedo, 6-2 Erykah Davenport, who is the two-time Class 5A Player of the Year in Georgia; 6-1 Khalia Prather, who started for the No. 10 team in the country, Riverdale Baptist (Md.); 6-0 Keyanna Harris, an athletic wing from West Palm Beach Dwyer; and 6-2 Ashley Jones, a lefty post player and the only junior-college transfer in the class.
ESPN ranked Miami’s 2013 all-guard class of Greene, Adriene Motley and Jessica Thomas 15th in the country but does not have the 2014 group in its top 20.
Still, that was before the Quevedo signing, and, regardless, Meier sees this as perhaps her deepest class.
In a sense, Miami is still trying to find the star quality of its 2008 recruiting class, which included guards Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams, both currently in the WNBA.
In fact, Williams set a WNBA record last year with a 51-point game.
Meier is hoping that she can find a gem or two internationally and has made assistant coach Darrick Gibbs the point person in that pursuit.
Meier, who led USA to the 2013 Under-19 gold medal, had scouted Spain and had seen Quevedo on video.
But all the international scouting services had indicated that Quevedo was not interested in playing for a U.S. college … until Miami got a tip to the contrary.
While Meier was busy with preparing Miami for the WNIT, she sent Gibbs to Spain to recruit Quevedo.
Gibbs was met at the airport by former Canes standout Morgan Stroman, who is now playing pro ball in Spain.
Soon enough, Quevedo committed to the Hurricanes.
“Miami being an international city and having a strong Latin influence gave us a real advantage,” Meier said.
Before Quevedo, Meier’s biggest international signing in her nine-year tenure with the Canes was Swedish guard Stefanie Yderstrom, whose perimeter shooting skills were missed this past season.
Meier, who played pro ball in Belgium but did not have any foreign-born players on last season’s roster, is hoping for more international signings in the future.
“We have to take care of Florida first,” Meier said of her recruiting strategy. “But we are making a concerted effort internationally.
“There are some nice point guards in Argentina, Spain’s leagues are getting to be high-level, and we want to hit up Brazil because they have some athletic and aggressive players.”