The Australian presence on the hardwood at UCLA is set to increase to two in 2020, with Under 19 national team star Isobel Anstey announcing her verbal commitment to a Bruins side already featuring fellow Gems alumna Chantel Horvat.
The Victorian duo will play one season together, with Horvat’s senior season in 2020/21 coinciding with Anstey’s arrival.
The daughter of world champion swimmer Linley Frame and former NBA player and Boomers legend Chris, Anstey has carved out an outstanding junior career as a member of both Under 17 and Under 19 World Championship sides since returning from a stress fracture in her back suffered during her junior playing days. A silver medallist at this year’s Under 19 World Cup, the centre was a crucial member of the Gems side, averaging 7.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per contest. This included 16 points and 12 rebounds in the gold medal match against a USA side featuring a number of players against whom Anstey will now compete in college.
Anstey confirmed her interest in playing in college during an interview with FIBA at July’s Under 19 World Cup, stating that “I really want to continue with my education because there is a lot to consider as well as basketball.” In choosing UCLA, Anstey has certainly chosen a school with academic prowess, with the university regularly ranked among the top three public universities in the US alongside a high-level women’s basketball program.
Whilst the Bruins have had no shortage of talent in recent years, much of their success in the front court has come from undersized forwards playing above their height, with only one player on the current roster standing taller than 6’1. The addition of the 6’3 Anstey will provide a point of difference for Cori Close. Anstey’s presence is set to bolster the Bruins’ size against Pac-12 sides swarming with players standing 6’4 and above. Anstey is hardly just a body to plug up the paint, though.
Demonstrating her passing ability on multiple occasions during the recent Under 19 World Cup, Anstey averaged almost two assists per game. She handed out three in the gold medal game alongside her four blocks as she made her presence felt throughout. That game was a microcosm of what Anstey can produce on a regular basis, and no doubt helped her become even more of a hot commodity in the world of recruiting. Anstey reportedly also visited 2017 national champions South Carolina before UCLA secured her commitment.
UCLA carved out an outstanding season in 2017/18 to reach the Elite Eight. After a slow start in 2018/19, they regrouped to again reach the Sweet Sixteen despite injuries to a number of players, including Horvat, and losing now-WNBA players Kennedy Burke and Jordin Canada to graduation. With the Bruins now seemingly in the echelon the programs that can consistently re-tool with high level recruits and transfers, Anstey comes into the program at a good time, whilst playing the Pac-12 will provide a test arguably unmatched by any other conference in college basketball.