FSU women’s hoops signs top in-state prospect

Florida State Women’s Basketball has added the top-ranked player in the state of Florida as point guard O’Mariah Gordon has signed her National Letter of Intent to play for the Seminoles beginning in the 2021-22 season.

“From day one, O’Mariah Gordon’s nickname of choice around here has been OMG!” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said of Gordon. “That’s what we would say every time we watched her play. To be effective at her size, at this level, you have to be something special. We saw her first as a middle school player and have been developing a relationship with her ever since. O’Mariah is not only talented on the basketball court, but in the classroom.  You aren’t named Florida Gatorade Player of the Year back-to-back years without the type of work ethic she brings to both.”

Gordon is one of the nation’s elite players in the 2021 class, being ranked among the Top 7 point guards according to the 2021 ESPNW Hoopgurlz Recruiting Rankings. The product from Braden River High School in Bradenton is rated 31st overall, being named Florida’s Gatorade Player of the Year both in 2019 and 2020.

With an elusive 5-foot-4 frame, Gordon has proven to score in a variety of ways and is an aggressor when it comes to getting to the rim. With the success of teams being so reliant on point guard play, the Seminoles’ future remains in excellent hands with Gordon potentially running the offense.

Playing in a big district with competitive hoops, Gordon was named the Florida Dairy Farmers 6A Player of the Year in 2020 and was a USA TODAY Florida first team selection in 2019. In her last full season as a junior with Braden River High, she delivered 23.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 4.2 steals and 1.0 blocked shots per game.

Of her 27 games played as a junior where she led her team to FHSAA 6A State Semifinal, she had nine games where she scored 25 or more points. She had two games in 2019-20 where she dropped 37 points, and also sprung together four games with 30+ points.

Gordon was just as outstanding as a sophomore in the 2018-19 season, averaging 29.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 5.3 steals and 0.7 blocks per game. She finished that year with a 42-point performance against Tampa Bay Tech, and also recorded 42 points a few games prior against Sarasota.

As a freshman, Gordon also had spectacular numbers with 21.2 points per game, 7.1 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 5.9 steals and 1.4 blocked shots.

Top-20 forward Valenzuela signs with FSU

Six-foot-2 forward Mariana Valenzuela has signed her National Letter of Intent to play for Florida State Women’s Basketball beginning in the 2021-22 season.

Hailing from Mazatlán, Mexico, Valenzuela is ranked as the 18th-best forward in the 2021 class and was rated 95th overall by ESPN Hoopgurlz.

“Mariana’s versatility is exceptional,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “Having coached many players with good size who can stick the three point shot, we know the value and match-up problems that it brings. I admire the pure love of the game that Mariana has. She is diligent with her training and like many other international players that I’ve coached, she wants to play against the best, so that she can bring her best back to her home country. Like Izabela Nicoletti, she left her country to play high school basketball in the states. Her decision to leave Mexico at a young age shows her level of commitment to excellence.” 

Valenzuela’s inside-outside game makes her one of the most versatile players in the 2021 class, showing a nice touch from the perimeter while also excelling in the post with a strong face-up game.

She opened plenty of eyes representing Mexico at the 2019 FIBA U16 Americas Women’s Championship. In six games played, Valenzuela averaged 13.3 points, 15.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists. She cleaned up the glass in the tournament with two 20-rebound performances, pulling down 22 rebounds vs. Brazil and 21 vs. El Salvador.

She was also a double-double machine in the 2019 Centrobasket U17 Championship with an average of 14.4 points and 11.4 rebounds. In all five games of the tournament, Valenzuela recorded double-doubles in each matchup.

Valenzuela was also a participant in the NBA Academy, an elite basketball development initiative that provides top high school-age prospects from outside the U.S. with a holistic approach to player development. 

She was part of the NBA Academy Women’s Program, and participated in the NBA Academy Women’s Program Latin America Camp in March 2019. She then joined NBA Academies Women’s Program participants from Africa, Australia, China, India, and Mexico, in addition to select players from Canada and Europe, for a three-day minicamp at the NCAA Women’s Final Four.