ANCHORAGE – Seeking a fifth straight league title and sixth straight playoff berth, the Alaska Anchorage women’s basketball team got a huge boost Tuesday as head coach Ryan McCarthy announced the addition of four new players – Cameron Fernandez, Kimani Fernandez-Roy, Jeneva Toilolo and Safiyyah Yasin – to the Seawolves’ 2018-19 roster.
One of two Div. I transfers among the newcomers, Fernandez played as a true freshman at Washington State in 2016-17, averaging 4.7 points in just 10.8 minutes per contest. Although she was injured in her ninth game, the 5-10 forward managed impressive efforts to 11 points at Washington, nine points at Saint Louis and eight points in a 69-67 loss at No. 18 Kentucky. Fernandez attended WSU in 2017-18 but did not play basketball, leaving her with three seasons of eligibility at UAA.
Originally from Makawao, Hawaii, Fernandez was a two-time Maui Interscholastic League Player of the Year at Lahainaluna High School, where she captained her squad to state runner-up and third-place finishes her final two years.
“We were the first program to offer Cameron (a scholarship) coming out of high school, and I couldn't be more pleased to get her in a Seawolf uniform for the rest of her career,” said McCarthy, who has piloted UAA to a 124-12 record the last four years. “Cam is another prototype fit for our system and is a gifted scorer who can play multiple positions. She played for one of the best coaches in Hawaii and has an incredible desire to win. To say that we are excited about Cameron's potential is an understatement.”
Meanwhile, Toilolo will join Fernandez and senior guard Kian McNair (Portland State) to give UAA three players with Div. I experience. A 6-3 center, she played in 59 games over three seasons at New Mexico State, where she redshirted her true freshman campaign. Toilolo averaged 3.7 points and 3.2 rebounds in 13.7 minutes per game as a sophomore in 2017-18, helping the Aggies go 18-13 and earn a WNIT berth. She played in 23 contests as a redshirt freshman for a NMSU squad that swept the WAC regular-season and tournament titles.
Toilolo had a storied prep career at Farrington High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, leading the Governors to back-to-back league championships and claiming Oahu Interscholastic Association co-Player of the Year honors.
“Jeneva gives us great depth at our post position and is another good athlete who can play at our pace,” McCarthy said. “She is strong, has great hands, and can play a physical game down low. Her desire to improve her game will make her very valuable, and her natural athletic ability makes her a great fit in our system.”
Yet another Hawaiian, Fernandez-Roy joins fall signee Jahnna Hajdukovich (5-8, G, Anchorage/Dimond HS) as the second true freshman in this year’s recruiting class. As a senior, the 5-10 forward led Kamehameha Schools-Maui to the quarterfinals of the Div. I State tournament. In addition to basketball, she was an all-star in volleyball and track & field for the Warriors, while serving as student body vice president and carrying a 3.9 overall GPA.
“We have not someone as athletic as Kimani since (former All-American) Megan Mullings,” said McCarthy. “At 5-10 and able to touch rim, her potential in our style is extremely high. My favorite thing about Kimani is that she will be able to make plays that coaches cannot teach. I am very excited for Seawolf fans to watch her compete. UAA and our basketball program are fortunate to have attracted a student-athlete of this caliber.”
Along with the three Hawaiians – who all signed recently – McCarthy officially introduced Yasin, who came to UAA and January and redshirted while practicing with the team. A 5-6 guard, she played two seasons at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif., helping her club to a 47-17 combined record and consecutive CCCAA playoff appearances. As a sophomore in 2016-17, she led the Vikings with 17.1 points per game, plus 4.7 assists and 1.8 steals per contest.
“Safiyyah came to us in the second semester last season and we were more than willing to wait for her to be eligible for 2018-19,” McCarthy said. “She was one of the top players out of the California JUCO system and played for a very good coach for her two years. We've seen the things she can do in practice this past year and cannot wait to see those things in games.”
Yasin played her prep career at storied Skyline High School in Oakland, Calif., where she earned all-city honors.
Alongside the fives signees, redshirt junior guard Victoria Langi gives the Seawolves six newcomers on the 2018-19 roster. UAA is coming off a 27-5 campaign and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference co-title, with First Team All-GNAC senior center Hannah Wandersee and honorable mention All-GNAC point guard Yazmeen Goo among four returning starters and eight returning letterwinners.