Women’s basketball’s international recruits fill in gaps of departing players
By Jon Christon
May 4, 2020 4:19 p.m.
The Bruins have gone global.
For the first time in program history, UCLA women’s basketball has a recruiting class made entirely up of international prospects. Forward Izzy Anstey is from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, guard Gemma Potter is from Warrandyte, Victoria, Australia, and forward Emily Bessoir is from Munich, Germany.
Bessoir was the first of the three to commit on June 14. The German native put up 7.7 points and 9.3 rebounds during the FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand – where all three recruits were on display and where UCLA coach Cori Close coached for Team USA.
After the summer games, Bessoir played the 2019-2020 season on TS Jahn München in the 2nd Bundesliga South, Germany’s second women’s league. She averaged 17.9 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals in 31 minutes per game over the course of the season.
Close said Bessoir’s 6-foot-4 frame coupled with her shooting ability – shown in her 32% from beyond the arc last year – make her an elite offensive threat.
“(Bessoir) can play the three, four or the five – she’s versatile,” Close said. “She is a great shooter. It starts with her ability to score off the catch and she can play both inside and outside as well as attack off the bounce.”
Anstey – the daughter of former NBA player Chris Anstey – averaged 7.9 points and 8.1 rebounds in the U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup in 2019 while representing Australia.
With the departure of senior forward Ally Rosenblum, both Bessoir and Anstey will come in as the tallest players on the team at 6-foot-4. Close said their addition to the team will fill help fill an area in which the Bruins are lacking.
“That was a major priority for us – having those two come in is huge,” Close said.”(Size) was a major weakness of ours and a major hole that we were able to fill with (Bessoir) and (Anstey).”
The Bruins also lost two guards in the offseason after redshirt senior Japreece Dean was drafted to the WNBA and freshman Jaden Owens transferred to Baylor.
Potter – who averaged 2.1 points during a championship season with the Canberra Capitals of the Women’s National Basketball League in Australia – will be the only guard Close can add to her rotation next year. She will join a roster that still boasts eight guards, despite the two departures.
Close said Potter’s value is on the defensive end, where she will help shoulder the perimeter defensive role with current freshman guard Charisma Osborne.
“(Potter) really takes a lot of pride in being a lockup defender, and I’m really excited about that,” Close said. “That was really shouldered by (Osborne) on the perimeter this year and (Potter) can do that in a (6-foot) body. She’s also a good slasher to the basket, but I like her athleticism and her toughness above all else.”
UCLA currently has two international players on its roster in junior guard Chantel Horvat and freshman forward Brynn Masikewich, who hail from Australia and Canada, respectively.
Close said this influx of international talent represents a shift in the game globally.
“It shows how our world is evolving,” Close said. “I just think it just shows the evolution of the sport internationally. It shows you that our world is just not as big as it used to be.