Gonzaga University women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves has announced the signing of two players to national letters of intent. Joining the Bulldogs next fall is Bayli McClard, a 6-1 forward from Hanford high school in Hanford, Calif., and Emma Wolfram, a 6-5 center from South Kamloops high school in Kamloops, British Columbia.
“Both Bayli and Emma fit who we are as a program and are the types of people and players that will keep our program among the nation’s best,” explained Graves. “I’m excited when I think about our future and with Emma and Bayli, that future is bright. I am honored that two individuals of this caliber are going to be part of our Zag family.”
Bayli McClard was named 2012 Fresno Bee Player of the Year as she helped lead Hanford High to its fifth-straight California Central Section Championship and to its 72nd straight West Yosemite League victory. Last season, McClard was league MVP and a first team All-West Yosemite League selection after averaging 18.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 3.0 assists per game. As a sophomore, Bayli averaged 15.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 steals, along with hitting 42 3’s en route to being named all-league and first team Fresno Bee selection.
Considered one of the best all-purpose forwards in the country, she was a USA Basketball U16 national team trials participant in 2011. Coached by Tom Parrish for the Hanford Bullpups, McClard also plays for Russ Davis and the prestigious California Swish AAU program, one of the top clubs in the country (current Zag Lindsay Sherbert and former Zag great Shannon Mathews were also Swish players).
“Bayli is an incredibly versatile player who plays hard on every possession,” explained Davis. “I know she is going to make a great impact on college basketball. I am confident she’ll become of the great players to come out of Gonzaga.”
Sue Mahackian, of Hanford rival Edison high school also sang McClard’s praises last spring when she said “Bayli is not just a gifted player—she’s a phenom. What sets her apart from other players, both boys and girls, is not just her talent; it’s her class on the court. She exemplifies every positive attribute that a basketball player should possess, and what every coach would dream to have in a player.”
Graves is just as enamored.
“Bayli is a phenomenal athlete and an unbelievable competitor,” stated Graves. “She was perhaps the hardest working player I saw on the recruiting circuit this year, in fact played in the Nike Nationals on a broken foot. If she was a baseball player, she’d be labeled a five-tool player. There is nothing she can’t do on the basketball court. She’s effective both inside and outside—can attack the rim but also shoot the 3-pointer. She’s tenacious on the boards and a solid defender who can guard all five spots if needed. Her most impressive qualities, as far as I’m concerned, are her toughness, basketball savvy, unquestionable character and her willingness to do whatever it takes to win not caring who gets the credit. She’s a winner in every sense. She is a perfect Zag!”
Regarded as perhaps the best players in her class in Canada, Wolfram is certainly one of the most decorated having been part of several Canadian national teams. This past summer, Wolfram helped lead the Canadian U17 national team to a bronze medal in the World Championships in Amsterdam, collecting 15 points and 15 rebounds in the bronze medal game. She was also on the U16 Cadet team that qualified for the World Championships in the FIBA Americas as well as was the youngest member on the Pan American team in 2011 in Mexico and competed against former Zags Kayla Standish and Katelan Redmon.
Allison McNeill, the Canadian Senior National Team and Olympic head coach knows Wolfram well and thinks she will be a great fit for Gonzaga.
“You have a very special athlete and person coming to Gonzaga,” stated McNeill. “She works so hard and is such a smart player. The Zag fans will love her.”
Last season, Wolfram averaged 28.0 points, 15.0 rebounds and 7.0 blocked shots and led her South Kamloops team to the British Columbia Provincial championship. She was named both MVP and Defensive Player of the Tournament as well as being named the Player of the Year in the British Columbia province. As a sophomore, Wolfram averaged 22.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks and led her team to a third place provincial finish. She was named tournament all-star and Defensive Player of the Year for her efforts. South Kamloops is ranked No. 1 in the province this year as well.
Her high school coach, Ken Olynk, father of current Zag men’s basketball player Kelly Olynk, commented that “Emma is an extremely hard worker who has a great understanding of the game. She will do everything she can to help GU be the best they can be. She’s going to a great program. I know Gonzaga has a great family atmosphere that I think Emma will thrive in. I am excited for her.”
Graves agrees will both McNeill’s and Olynk’s thoughts on Wolfram.
“I have known Emma for several years and have marveled at how she continues to improve year after year,” said Graves. “I believe she has the chance to become one of the all-time great Zags because of not only her skill set and tremendous work ethic, but her incredible basketball IQ. She just knows how to play this game. Her international experience and her keen understanding of the game will make her a ready freshman the day she steps on to the court for us. Emma does all the little things it takes to win and is so prolific in her abilities to put up numbers. Some players just have that knack to be productive and that’s definitely Emma. As a coach, it is reassuring to know we’ll continue to have a great inside presence for several years to come. I’m so glad that Emma has chosen Gonzaga.”