WBK: Two preps sign NLI with Gauchos

The UCSB women’s basketball team has signed high school standouts Natalia Bruening and Aliceah Hernandez to National Letters of Intent, head coach Bonnie Henrickson announced Wednesday.

Both players are on the cusp of their senior seasons, but they have each compiled very impressive resumes through their three years of prep basketball.

Bruening – a 6-foot-4 center – was named the MVP of the Pacific Coast League after averaging 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game for Corona del Mar High School under coach Mark Decker. Along with MVP honors, she was selected first team all-league for the second consecutive season. The rest of her hardware collection includes back-to-back Mesa Player of the Year awards from the Daily Pilot and as well as All-CIF Southern Section Div.-III honors. She also made school history as a sophomore in leading the Sea Kings to their first semifinal appearance since the 1982-83 season.

“Natalia is a long and athletic player who will give us much needed size in the front court,” Henrickson said. “With her volleyball background, she has great timing and can protect the rim. She has also shown us leadership qualities, which was important for us.”

Hernandez has had a prolific career at Sacramento High School where she was a McDonald’s All-American nominee and is ranked as the 60th guard in the nation by ESPN Hoopgurlz. A dynamic 5-foot-9 guard, she averaged 19.7 points, 7.4 assists, and 6.0 rebounds per game. She has shown the ability to shoot from the outside, as she made 123 threes and went 44 percent from beyond the arc last year. She has led her team to a pair of sectional championships and has been named to the Sacramento Bee’s All-Metro League three times and has also been named to the league’s all-academic team three times.

“Aliceah is a tremendous competitor and will bring leadership to her position,” Henrickson noted. “She plays with toughness on both sides of the floor, and has the ability to stretch the defense to the three-point line.”

Both athletes are also playing at the highest level in AAU basketball. Bruening is a member of Cal Swish under the tutelage of coach Russ Davis, while Hernandez plays for Cal Sparks NorCal where Michele Massari is her head coach.