Talented 5'9 South Australian combo guard Taylor Ortlepp has verbally committed to the Boston College Eagles and will join the team for next season.
Taylor Ortlepp | Credit: Basketball Australia
Ortlepp, who recently played a starring role for her state in earning a silver medal at the 2016 U20 Australian Junior Championships, was excited by the opportunity to be a student-athlete at a quality school in one of the best conferences in the NCAA.
"It has all happened so quickly," explained Ortlepp in speaking exclusively with The Pick and Roll.
"I came home from Brisbane following the nationals for just one day, and then I was back onto a plane headed to Boston. I had been speaking with the coaches for a little while, and when I got over there, they were really supportive and everyone was friendly. I enjoyed the environment, I got a chance to watch a game, spend some time with the players, and overall I really loved the team and the atmosphere."
Still excited by her decision, Ortlepp was clearly impressed by the coaches, players, the campus and the support that she felt would be provided in the environment on the side that will feature a number of International players next season.
"I felt like I would really fit in with the girls that will be there next season, I really felt welcome. They also have a couple of International girls on the side, including my good friend Georgia Pineau who committed last year. With them being there, and everyone understanding the support needed [for the International players], that would really help. Oh, and the campus! It is incredible, it is so beautiful with great facilities."
Ortlepp and Pineau, a 6'2 forward from Melbourne who chose to turn down an offer from Saint Mary's College where her brother Dane is currently starring, will reunite after both played key roles in lifting Australia to 5th place at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championships. In that tournament, Ortlepp contributed 4.7 points per game while Pineau added 8.3 points and 6.6 rebounds. Ortlepp advised hat she was looking forward to once again playing alongside Pineau.
"I roomed with Georgia [Pineau] at the World's and again when we toured China. We are pretty close friends, so that will be a massive advantage," shared Ortlepp.
In discussing her recruitment, Ortlepp explained that she had previously visited Virginia prior to Christmas, and had also been in discussions with Fresno State, California State Long Beach, Northwestern and Idaho. Despite the interest, she was very happy with the decision she has made.
"I'm really looking forward to it now that my recruitment is over. I have been in the recruiting process for so long now, and this opportunity popped up at the right time and is the best fit for me. I am looking forward to getting over there and getting into it."
Already a smart play maker, the on court general is able to penetrate, break down defenses and find the open player. When left open, she can also connect from beyond the arc, and she was able to again demonstrate her diverse skill set at the 2016 U20 Australian Junior Championships. Ortlepp was integral in Captaining her side to the silver medal, falling short to the formidable Victorian Navy outfit (66-88). She posted an impressive 23 outburst (4/8 3PT) in a win against Queensland, finishing with tournament averages of 13.9 points (5th best), 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Understandably, Ortlepp was proud of her team's achievements, explaining that they had to overcome some adversity along the way.
"We were not expected to make the final. Injuries to key players meant we were down to just 7 players for the final. Everyone tried their best and we pushed Victoria [Navy] for that first half. In the end, we just found it tough to keep up with a team that was so athletic and so deep."
Having also spent the past season with the Adelaide Lightning in the WNBL as a development player, Ortlepp has benefited from training alongside some of the best senior female talent in Australia. Her experiences appear to have her well placed as she looks ahead to her freshman season.
"Boston's not currently at the top of the ACC conference at this stage. Hopefully I can come in and make an impact and help change that. Playing against some of the best teams and players really influenced my decision to choose Boston and I am now looking forward to the challenge."
After making the commitment formal in the next signing period, Ortlepp is planning to arrive on campus in late June or early July to commence Summer school.