Utah prospects in the top 50

By Quinn Wilcox, Staff Writer

If this year’s recruiting rankings are any indication of future success, then the Utes should have plenty to smile about in the coming years.

Head coach Elaine Elliott got the signatures of four prospects to give her the No. 48 best recruiting class in the country, according to the rankings of ESPN’s HoopGurlz. The No. 48 ranked class was the highest-ranked class in the Mountain West Conference, with UNLV being the only other MWC team to reach the top 60 at No. 56.

The gem of the 2009 class is undoubtedly Diana Rolniak, the 6-foot-3-inch forward out of Aurora, Colo. Rolniak is the No. 83 player in the country, according to ESPN, and the No. 15 forward in the nation. She led her high school Regis Jesuit to the 5-A state title game last year, as well as being named as a second team All-Continental player.

Taryn Wicijowski, a 6-foot-2 center out of Canada, is the Utes’ other front court signee. Wicijowski was a member of the Canada Junior national team in 2008 and helped place her team No. 2. She also won two championships for Leboldus High School, winning the trophy in 2006 and 2007.

“We really like the size of Diana Rolniak and Taryn Wicijowski,” Elliott said. “That gives us two kids with size, and two very good athletes. (Wicijowski) is stronger and tougher. (Rolniak) is longer, lean and lanky. She’s a very good off ball defender. Both are really going to help and help us early.”

Rachel Messer was Utah’s second-highest ranked recruit. The 5-foot-9 guard out of Highlands Ranch, Colo., is a top 40 guard on Scouts Inc. She was a first team All-Continental League selection in high school, and this past summer was named one of ESPN’s Top Gunners, an honor given to the best shooters and scorers in high school basketball.

There should already be great chemistry between her and Rolniak before the two step on campus, as they are teammates on the same AAU squad, the Mile High Magic.

“Rachel Messer is a great shooting guard,” Elliott said. “She’s another person who protects the paint, and she really understands the game.”

Rita Sitivi, a 5-foot-10 guard out of Huntington, Calif., is rated as one of the top 15 players in California. She was named to the All-Sunset League three times, as well as getting MVP honors her sophomore year of high school. She is also a very good student, being named to the all-academic league as well.

“Rita is a bit more powerful than Rachel Messer, more of a slasher,” Elliott said. “She’s a stronger kid who can potentially defend a small forward type player.”

Iwa Rodrigues, a 5-foot-9 freshman guard who is redshirting this season, will join these four players to form the 2009-2010 freshman class. The five players will give the Utes a great core to build around for the next four years.

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Tyler Cobb

Elaine Elliott got a signature from the No. 15 forward in the nation Diana Rolniak. The class included three other players that should give Elliott a good core to build on for the future.