PHILADELPHIA - Four new members were officially added to the defending Ivy League champion University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team on Monday when head coach Mike McLaughlin announced the Class of 2018. Beth Brzozowski, Michelle Nwokedi, Anna Ross and Lauren Whitlatch will join the Quakers in 2014-15.
"We are really proud of this class," said McLaughlin, who earned the program's first Big 5 Coach of the Year award last season. "We always strive to bring in athletes who are equally motivated on the court and in the classroom, and we are adding four players with strong character who will be a good addition to our team, our University and our community. We can't wait to spend the next four years with them."
Each of Coach McLaughlin's first four recruiting classes at Penn have produced the Big 5 Rookie of the Year. No other school has ever had more than two straight women win that award and prior to McLaughlin's tenure, only one Penn player had ever won it (Diana Caramanico).
The Class of 2018 is another well-decorated group featuring one of the nation's top 100 recruits (Nwokedi), two McDonalds All-America nominees (Nwokedi, Whitlatch), a three-time state champion (Brzozowski) and a five-year varsity standout (Ross). All four were 1,000-point scorers in high school and all four were all-state honorees.
The quartet consists of one forward (Nwokedi) and three guards (Brzozowski, Whitlatch and Ross), and hails four different states. Nwokedi represents Missouri City, Texas, while Brzozowski travels to the City of Brotherly Love from Highland Heights, Ohio. Rose is a Syracuse, N.Y., native, while Whitlatch (Bloomington) joins junior Brooklyn Juday (Tipton) as Indiana natives on the roster.
The incoming freshmen join a team that lost one of the most successful senior classes in school history, but returns 10 letterwinners, second-team All-Ivy recipient Kara Bonenberger, and the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Sydney Stipanovich. Penn tied a school record with 22 wins last season, which included two Big 5 victories and the program's first-ever win over an ACC opponent (at Miami) en route to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 10 years.
The first collegiate game for these four freshmen will come at Tennessee. The Quakers announced their season opener against one of the nation's most storied programs on Tuesday.
A full individual bio is available below for each of the members of the Class of 2018.
Class of 2018 Individual Bios
Hathaway Brown High School
Highland Heights, Ohio
Hathaway: Four-year letterwinner ... Served as team captain as a senior ... Won three state championships (2011, 2012, 2013) ... Two-time all-state honorable mention ... Set school record for career three-pointers ... Named team’s Most Valuable Player in 2013-14 ... Earned school’s Outstanding Athlete award as a senior ... 2013-14 academic all-state ... Also lettered three years in soccer where she was a member of the 2011 district title team and 2010 state runner-up.
Personal: Daughter of Cathy and Len Brzozowski ... Has three older brothers ... Brother, Luke, lettered for Penn’s heavyweight rowing team ... Brother, Tom, was a member of Georgetown’s lightweight rowing team ... Enrolled in Wharton.
From Coach McLaughlin: "Beth is a prototypical point guard with great leadership qualities. She is an overall athlete, a great on-ball defender and very competitive."
St. Agnes Academy
Missouri City, Texas
St. Agnes Academy: Four-year letterwinner and two-time team captain ... 2013-14 McDonald's All-America nominee ... Four-time first-team all-district ... Three-time first-team all-state ... Second-team all-state as a freshman ... 2013-14 District MVP ... Scored more than 2,000 career points ... Ranked #21 in the nation at her position by ESPNU HoopGurlz.
Personal: Daughter of Fidelia and Emmanuel Nwokedi ... Youngest of five children (three sisters, one brother) ... Sister, Jennifer, played basketball at Tulane and Houston ... Brother, Brian, played football at Claremont McKenna College ... Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences.
From Coach McLaughlin: "Michelle is a versatile athlete who can play several positions for us. She has great length and can alter a lot of shots. She can make an immediate impact."
Westhill High School
Westhill: Five-year letterwinner in basketball ... Served as captain for three seasons ... Three-time all-Central New York by The Post-Standard ... 2014 second-team all-state ... Also lettered in track and lacrosse ... Won the 2014 sectional championship in the high jump.
Personal: Daughter of Kate and Jim Ross ... Has five older siblings ... Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences ... Brother, Jim, played basketball at Virginia Intermont ... Brother, Daniel, played basketball at SUNY Oswego ... Brother, Dale, played football at SUNY Morrisville.
From Coach McLaughlin: "Anna is an attacking point guard with the ability to score. She is physically strong and ready for the college game. Her quickness allows her to excel in transition and to be aggressive off the dribble. We think she can compete early in her career."
Bloomington High School South
Bloomington South: Four-year letterwinner ... ... 2014 McDonald’s All-America nominee ... Selected to represent Indiana as a 2014 Indiana All Star in the prestigious Indiana-Kentucky All Star series ... Recipient of the Most Valuable Teammate Award as a senior ... 2014 first-team all-state by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association ... 2014 AP All-State ... Hoosier Basketball Magazine First-Team All-State as a junior and senior... First-team academic all-state ... Three-time Herald Times All-Area Player of the Year ... Four-time all-conference ... Scored 1,215 career points and added 662 career rebounds ... Also lettered four years in tennis and played and lettered in volleyball as a freshman ... All-state and all-conference honors in tennis including first-team academic all-state ... Finished tennis career with a 54 match winning streak ... Recipient of Bloomington South Class of 2014 Joan Whalen outstanding female student and Wendy Ware inspirational leader awards.
Personal: Daughter of Jim and Ann Whitlatch ... Father played basketball and mother played tennis, both at DePauw University... Two older siblings, Ben and Elizabeth ... Ben played basketball at William & Mary and Elizabeth played tennis at DePauw ... Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences.
From Coach McLaughlin: "Lauren has the ability to spread the floor with her shooting ability. She has a good jumper and can shoot the three. She is a good defender and gives us some length on the perimeter."