Athletes

Zags Sign Four To NLIs During Early Signing Period

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Gonzaga women's basketball head coach Lisa Fortier announced the signing of four new Zags to National Letters of Intent for the 2017-18 season Thursday.

“I am so excited about this recruiting class. They are a very talented and competitive group. They are also extremely versatile,” Fortier said. “All of these young women are proven winners, with nine championships among them so far, and they are excellent students as well. They epitomize what we look for in student-athletes here at Gonzaga, and we cannot wait to coach every one of them. We are so happy to welcome them into the Gonzaga basketball family.”

Louise Forsyth Langley, British Columbia | Brookswood Secondary High School | 6-0 | Guard

Louise Forsyth joins former Zag Janelle Bekkering and current Bulldog Emma Wolfram in the Canadian pipeline to Spokane. She has three-point range and is quick off the dribble with a great mid-range game. On the defensive end she can guard a variety of offensive threats. Just like Wolfram, she was a member of the U16 Canadian National Team in 2016. ESPN.com ranks her as the 13th-rated guard in her class.

Her team has won three-straight British Columbia AAA Basketball Championships, and last season she was a BC First Team All-Star, First Team Regional, and the top scorer in the championship tournament. She has excelled in track and field as well, finishing as a finalist in the BC long jump, triple jump, and discus. She is a two-time All-BC selection at the cross country championships. She is a four-year member of the BC Finest Basketball Club and an Adidas Three Stripe All-American. In the classroom she has been on the honor roll five times, with a 3.8 GPA while taking AP calculus and chemistry.

“I chose Gonzaga for the perfect combination of basketball and excellence,” Forsyth said. “Gonzaga has shown such great academic achievement and is a very welcoming community. I am most excited to work hard to contribute to Gonzaga’s winning tradition. It will be amazing to play in front of the passionate Zag fans.”

In 2016 she was a First Team AAA All-Star as her team won their third-straight AAA Championship thanks to her 27 points and 11 rebounds in the championship game. She was most recently a member of the 2016 U17 Canadian National Team and won a gold medal at the FIBA 2015 Americas Tournament.

“Louise is a high level shooter. She has an amazing work ethic and such an eagerness to learn,” Fortier said. “She brings great length to the wing, which we will utilize heavily on defense. Lou is very comfortable playing at a fast pace. She will be able to stretch the defense and allow us to continue to work inside out.”

Jenn Wirth Chandler, Ariz. | Seton Catholic High School | 6-3 | Forward

The athletic forward is physical in the paint with great outside shooting and ball handling ability. On the defensive end she has length and alters shots. ESPN.com ranks her as the 20th-best forward in her class.

Wirth was selected 2015-16 AIA First Team All-Section VI, AIA First Team All-Division II, and a Highland All-Tournament selection. She was an Arizona Republic/azcentral.com All-Division II First Team honoree. In 2014-15 she was again AIA First Team All-Section IV and AIA First Team All-Division II. She was also Arizona Republic/azcentral.com All-Division II First Team. She has led her team to two Arizona State Championships.

“I chose Gonzaga because of the tight knit community and I loved all the players on the team,” Wirth said.  “I am so excited to play at the next level and play for such a great program.”

In her career she has averaged 9.5 points per game with two assists per game and 6.1 rebounds per game. Wirth also averages 1.8 steals per game and 1.3 blocks per contest. After averaging 6.2 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game her freshman year, she has averaged 11 points per game and seven rebounds per game the last two seasons.

“Jennifer is a very skilled and smooth forward. Her length and skill set will allow her to fit into our system perfectly,” Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. “She has a beautiful shot, that, coupled with her inside game, makes her an ideal player for us. She has continued to expand her perimeter skills, which will provide her opportunities at a variety of positions at Gonzaga.”

LeeAnne Wirth Chandler, Ariz. | Seton Catholic High School | 6-3 | Forward

Jenn’s twin sister, LeeAnne Wirth is an athletic forward with great range. She is known for her soft touch around the basket and her perimeter game has been improving drastically as of late. She is a shot-blocking presence on defense with length, mobility, and quickness. ESPN.com ranks her tied with her sister as the 20th-best forward in this class.

In 2015-16 she was an AIA First Team All-Section VI selection, AIA First Team All-Division II honoree, and the Highland Tournament MVP. She was an Arizona Republic/azcentral.com All-Division II Honorable Mention selection. In 2014-15 she was again AIA First Team All-Section IV and AIA Second Team All-Division II. She was also Arizona Republic/azcentral.com All-Division II Second Team. She has led her team to two Arizona State Championships.

“I chose Gonzaga for the community and the team and coaches are very welcoming,” Wirth said. “I am excited to continue my basketball career with such an amazing program.”

She has averaged eight points per game in her career and 6.1 rebounds per game. She also averages 1.1 assists per game, 1.3 steals per game, and two blocks per game. She has averaged seven rebounds per game the last two seasons, and went from averaging 8.6 points per game her sophomore year to 11.1 points per game last season.

“LeeAnne is a talented and skilled forward. She has a concise face up game, and can work with her back to the basket as well,” Fortier said. “Her length will be a great asset inside and outside. We are very comfortable with her defensive ability and expect her to be able to anchor our inside core on both ends of the court. Lee also has a great outside shot, making her extremely well rounded as a player.”

Jill Townsend Okanogan, Wash. | Okanogan High School | 5-11 | Guard

Townsend will follow in a long line of shot creators at the guard position at Gonzaga. She thrives on getting in the lane, drawing defenders, and creating shots for others or finishing with her mid-range jump shot. She has a great ability to make effective passes in traffic. ESPN.com ranks her the 27th-best guard in her class.

A 2016 selection to the Adidas All-American Team and the North Central Sports Award Female Athlete of the Year, Townsend averaged 24 points per game at Okanogan High School last season. In 2015-16 she was First Team NCW 2B All-League, the NCW 2B MVP, the 2B All-State Player MVP, 2B First Team All-State, and her team won the 2B State Championship for the second-straight year. In 2014-15 she was again First Team NCW 2B All-League, the NCW 2B MVP, and the 2B All-State Player MVP for the 2B State Champions. Her freshman year Townsend was First Team CTL 1A, First Team 1A All-State, and her team finished fourth at the 1A State Championship.

“I chose Gonzaga because it is a high-level program full of great people I want to surround myself with,” Townsend said. “I grew up watching Gonzaga and I am so excited to be part of this great program.”

In addition to averaging 24 points per game last year she averaged 20 points per game her sophomore year and 16.8 her freshman season. Townsend also averaged almost 10 rebounds per game and four steals per game the last two seasons.

“Jill is one of the toughest players I have ever seen. She never backs down from any defensive assignment or opponent,” Fortier said. “Her ability to score the ball in a variety of different ways is going to make her a very difficult matchup. She can play any position and is willing to guard any player on the floor. I love her competitiveness and nose for the ball.”