The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) women’s basketball head coach Lane Lord announced on Wednesday the addition of forward Brooke Jessen, guard Kacee Kyle, guard Maria Llorente, guard A’nnika Saenz, and guard Mariya Taser for the 2021-22 academic year.
“We are extremely excited for this recruiting class,” Lord said. “I feel we have addressed all of our needs with this group. With our sophomore class and then you add in two more freshmen last year, we are starting to build the program with freshmen and some transfers here and there. This class will help make our program deeper and better.”
Jessen comes to UTRGV from Spirit Lake, Idaho where she was a multi-sport athlete at Timberlake High School. Jessen lettered in basketball and volleyball all four years while also playing golf and softball.
Jessen helped her team to four-straight trips to the state tournament throughout her career, including back-to-back state championships during her junior and senior seasons. Jessen finished her career with over 1,000 points and earned All-Idaho Team honors all four years, including three on the First Team.
Jessen was also named the 3A High School Girls Athlete of the Year in 2019-20 and the All-Idaho Player of the Year as a senior.
Kyle comes to the program after being a four-year starter at Cherry Creek High School, where she helped her to a 5A state championship in 2019 while being named 5A Co-State Champions in 2020.
Kyle, originally from Greenwood Village, Colorado, is a two-time All-State Team honoree, a two-time Centennial All-League honoree while being team captain.
Llorente joins the Vaqueros after two seasons at Trinidad State where she played in 41 career games. Llorente played in 31 games as a freshman, while starting 30 of them, and averaged 15.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 3.4 steals per game, including a program record 105 steals.
Llorente, originally from Madrid, Spain, played in all 10 games in a shortened sophomore season as she averaged 17.4 points 5.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 5.3 steals per game.
Saenz joins UTRGV after attending Edinburg High School where she lettered four years in basketball, three years in cross country, and two years in track and field.
Throughout her career at Edinburg High, Saenz earned 31-6A Newcomer of the Year honors, 31-6A First Team Honors, 31-6A Co-MVP, a three-time RGVBCA All-Valley First Team, and TABC 6A All-Region honors.
Taser comes to UTRGV from Ankara, Turkey where she is playing for Cankaya University. Taser is averaging 16 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 3.3 steals per game while shooting 42 percent from three-point range and averaging 34 minutes per game.
Taser was a member of the Turkish National Under 16 Team where she helped her team to a national championship in 2015 and was named one of the best guards during her national championship run.
“We are ready to get going,” Lord said. “We are excited for the opportunity to get this class in with our returners and get things going. We look forward to getting this group integrated with our current players and start forming that bond we need to be successful.”
Jessen, Kyle, Llorente, Saenz, and Taser join forward Taylor Muff for as part of UTRGV’s signing class.