College commitments made by high school student-athletes have become so publicized that the actual shock value of signing day has gone down considerably.
If the wait for high-profile student-athletes used to be to reveal the school that they planned to play for in college, it is now simply a matter of counting down the days to sign on the dotted line.
Corona del Mar center fielder Preston Hartsell verbally committed to play baseball for USC as a freshman. He made the decision official on Wednesday, putting pen to paper to join the Trojans.
Hartsell was one of more than three dozen local seniors signing their national letter of intent on the first day of the early signing period for college sports outside of football, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s water polo.
Hartsell hit .427 with six home runs, six doubles, three triples and 22 runs batted in during his junior season. He also won the Perfect Game All-American Classic home run derby, which was held at spacious Petco Park in San Diego in August.
Of the 42 local athletes to sign on Wednesday, five chose USC. Four of the Trojans-to-be were from CdM, including outside hitter Brandon Browning for men’s volleyball, setter Ashley Humphreys for women’s volleyball and goalie Erin Tharp for women’s water polo.
Sophia Lucas, an attacker for the Laguna Beach girls’ water polo team, also signed with USC.
Newport Harbor outside hitter Cole Pender signs his national letter of intent with the UCLA men's volleyball program on Wednesday. (Courtesy of Ann Pender)
UCLA also signed five athletes from the area, including three boys’ volleyball players, Battle of the Bay rivals Cole Pender (Newport Harbor) and Kevin Kobrine (CdM), and Laguna Beach’s Sam Bergi.
Stanford signed two local girls’ water polo players in Thea Walsh, who helped Laguna Beach complete an undefeated season with her elite play guarding the cage, and CdM’s Chloe Harbilas.
There were several instances of teammates opting to continue playing together in college. Newport Harbor’s Melissa Bradford, Delaney Gendron and Peyton Matthews all signed on with the SMU women’s rowing program.
In girls’ volleyball, Huntington Beach outside hitters Maggie Baker and Bailey Nelson will both continue their playing careers at Jacksonville State, while opposite Jillian Kim signed with Sacred Heart University.
By the numbers, CdM had the most student-athletes participate in the early signing period among local schools with 13. Nine signed from Newport Harbor, eight from Huntington Beach, seven from Laguna Beach, three from Edison, and one each from Ocean View and Sage Hill.
Ocean View’s Penelope Russ signed on to play catcher at Rutgers.
Jade Blevins, a setter for the Sage Hill girls’ volleyball team, signed with the University of Portland, as did Josh Phillips, a center for the Edison basketball team.
Corona del Mar's Chloe Harbilas is bound for Stanford to play women's water polo. (File Photo)
Below is the list of local athletes who signed on Wednesday:
Corona del Mar
Brandon Browning, USC men’s volleyball
Chloe Harbilas, Stanford women’s water polo
Preston Hartsell, USC baseball
Ashley Humphreys, USC women’s volleyball
Kevin Kobrine, UCLA men’s volleyball
Chazz Martinez, UC Santa Barbara baseball
Alexandra Moeller, Gonzaga women’s rowing
Nikolett Provenza, University of Alabama women’s rowing
Emery Rolfes, UCLA men’s rowing
Alex Rosen, Georgetown baseball
J.T. Schwartz, UCLA baseball
Riley Sidebotham, San Diego State women’s water polo
Erin Tharp, USC women’s water polo
Melissa Bradford, SMU women’s rowing
Delaney Gendron, SMU women’s rowing
Nick Halphide, UC Santa Barbara men’s swimming
Jessica Lynch, UC Irvine women’s water polo
Peyton Matthews, SMU women’s rowing
Cole Pender, UCLA men’s volleyball
Adena Rothbard, University of New Hampshire women’s lacrosse
Dinny Stevens, Army women’s swimming
Ethan Talley, Ohio State men’s volleyball
Huntington Beach's Allee Bunker will join the University of Oregon softball team next year. (File Photo)
Maggie Baker, Jacksonville State University women’s volleyball
Maddie Bockman, UC San Diego women’s water polo
Allee Bunker, Oregon softball
Jillian Kim, Sacred Heart University women’s volleyball
Nick Lopez, Abilene Christian University baseball
Nate Madole, Loyola Marymount University baseball
Dylin Myers, Weber State women’s golf
Bailey Nelson, Jacksonville State University women’s volleyball
Laguna Beach goalie Thea Walsh is heading to Stanford to play for the women's water polo program. (File Photo)
Sam Bergi, UCLA men’s volleyball
Danielle Borelli, McKendree University women’s water polo
Sophia Lucas, USC women’s water polo
Lexi McKeown, Florida State women’s sand volleyball
Jessica Morrell, UC San Diego women’s rowing
Thea Walsh, Stanford women’s water polo
Kyla Whitelock, Fresno State women’s water polo
Connor Aoki, Binghamton University baseball
Chase Hanson, UNLV baseball
Josh Phillips, University of Portland men’s basketball
Penelope Russ, Rutgers softball
Sage Hill volleyball player Jade Blevins signs her national letter of intent with the University of Portland on Wednesday. (Courtesy of Megan Cid)
Jade Blevins, University of Portland women’s volleyball