By: Hansel Chu, Assistant Sports Editor and Kevin Contreras, Sports Editor
With the 2020-21 UC Riverside athletic season officially wrapped up, we will spotlight some of the new athletes that are going to contribute to the Highlander athletics in this next school year. Most of the transfers coming to UC Riverside will be participating in the basketball team.
The new transfers will be looking to make an impact on UCR athletics and will continue to build off of the success from the previous season on their respective teams.
The men’s basketball team has recruited four athletes during the 2020-21 season. These additions to the roster are expected to elevate the team both on and off the court. Their unique backgrounds are expected to continue and build off of the Highlander’s mounting success in the recent seasons.
Kobe Jerome is a 6 feet and 3 inches tall point guard hailing from New Rochelle, New York, who previously acted as the point guard for the defending Virginia State champions Blue Ridge School. “UC Riverside stood out to me because I really loved the staff … It gives me a real family-oriented feel, and that’s something that I really want to be a part of,” said Jerome in an interview with the Daily Progress.
Jeffrey Ofoedu is a guard from Melbourne, Australia. Standing at 6 feet and 5 inches tall, Jeffrey adds a dimension to our offense that is needed,” said Head coach Mike Magpayo in a UCR press release. He is a multiple-time Victoria Metropolitan representative and was also a member of the Australian Junior Championship teams representing Victoria Metropolitan which won a gold medal. His home club is the Keilor Thunder, for which he is a national junior representative.
JP Moorman II is a 6 feet and 7 inches tall athlete from Greensboro, North Carolina. In high school, he played for the Greensboro Day School where he won two state titles. Most recently, Moorman represented Temple University, where he ranked No. 7 in the American Athletic Conference. Off the court, he was named the AAC Rookie of the Week during his 2017-18 debut season. During the 2019-20 season, he was also a team Student Athlete Advisory Committee representative and has recently been active in the AAC’s Racial Equity Action Group.
Jhaylon Martinez, a northern California native, was an ESPN four-star recruit out of Dream City Christian School in Glendale, Arizona before joining the University of Las Vegas basketball team. There, he ranked No. 29 in the nation and was a number five prospect in Nevada, according to ESPN. “Jhaylon is a great student and is a fit for our team culture,” said Magpayo in a UCR press release.
The women’s basketball team will be adding a total of five new transfers onto the team for the 2021-22 season, along with two new freshmen.
Anna Blount is a 6 feet and 1 inch tall junior forward out of Stockton, California. In 2019, Blount was a three-star prospect in her senior year of high school and committed to University of Las Vegas. After two years at UNLV, Blount decided to enter the transfer portal and commit to UC Riverside. This last season, Blount averaged 5.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. When speaking about Blount, coach Powell stated she “can finish well and we’re looking forward to her impacting all areas of the game.”
Mae Bryant is a 6 foot tall sophomore forward out of Sammamish, Washington. In the 2019-2020 season, Bryant committed to Grand Canyon University and was named to the Western Athletic Conference All-Newcomer Team and also earned a WAC Player of the Week. Bryant, in that season, averaged 7.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. “Mae is a really high motor forward who can rebound the ball,” says coach Powell.
RyAnne Walters is a 5 feet and 6 inches tall sophomore guard out of Sacramento, California. In 2019, Walters was ranked No. 90 in the ESPN Top 100 Class of 2019, and she committed to play at UC Santa Barbara. In only seven games played, Walters averaged 2.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Walters decided to transfer to UC Riverside after dealing with injuries in her time at UC Santa Barbara. “She’s a great ball handler, can get to the rim and is a true playmaker,” says coach Powell.
Mele Finau is a 5 feet and 9 inches tall junior guard out of Dublin, California. In high school, Finau earned Multiple time All-Contra Costal Tri-Valley Conference selection and committed to the University of North Colorado in 2019. In this past season, Finau averaged 3.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game but shot a respectable 35% from the three-point line. According to coach Powell, Finau “ is aggressive and physical and can shoot the three ball.”
Olivia West is a 5 feet and 5 inches tall redshirt senior guard out of Launceston, Australia. In the 2018-19 season at Utah State, West earned academic all-Mountain West honors, was a Mountain West Scholar-Athlete and also earned the Joe E. and Elma Whitesides Scholar-Athlete Award recipient. In this past season at Hawaii Pacific University, West averaged 18.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game, while shooting an efficient 45-41-85 shooting splits. “She has lots of game experience and a maturity to her game, as well as being a lights out shooter … I have high expectations for her to come in and do big things immediately,” says coach Powell.