GABBI ORTIZ, PG, 5’6, RACINE (THE PRAIRIE SCHOOL), WISCONSIN:
PG commit Gabbi Ortiz has a great relationship with her future head coach Sherri Coale, as well as assistant Pam DeCosta. (Photo courtesy of Ortiz family)
NORMAN, Okla. — Regarded as one of the very top point guard prospects in the country for 2014 Gabbi Ortiz (5’6) of Racine, Wisconsin is a magician with the ball in her hands, but make no mistake she is a scoring point guard averaging 21-points, six rebounds and five assists per game and Saturday she decided that she will take her talents to Norman and play for Sherri Coale’s Oklahoma Sooners.
“The first time I came on campus was back in February and I got to see two really great basketball games,” said Ortiz. “I got to see the women play Oklahoma State and the guys upset Kansas. After going through the recruiting process for the next couple of months I decided to set up another visit and go back to OU. I had decided to consider them because of their great coaching staff. Sherri Coale has always intrigued me once I met her, and seeing what she has done for the program is incredible.
“She has had a couple of great point guards and a couple of All-Americans come out of her program and that was very intriguing to me. When I went back for the second time, I realized how much I loved the atmosphere at OU. Norman is a great college town and I really like the support that the women’s team gets and that was very impressive to me.
“Everybody is asking me why I chose Oklahoma and Sherri is a big reason why. It is not only because of her, but she is a big factor in that. I realize that I wanted to play for her and I told her that I think we can do some big things together at the point guard position. She is a point guard coach and I am going to be with her a lot of the time.
“OU has a great coaching staff, the players are awesome and I had a blast hanging out with them. I got that family feel and I really like that. I am a big family oriented person and even though Oklahoma is pretty far from my house I really feel Oklahoma is going to be my second family, and the distance is not going to bother me too much. I am excited to be on campus in less than a year and to get started with the basketball program.”
It is always important in basketball recruiting that a recruiting coach is going to play an important role in a player’s decision and for Ortiz, that was OU assistant Coach Pam DeCosta.
“I give Pam all the credit in the world,” said Ortiz. “She is great at what she does and is not only an awesome coach and recruiter but a stand-up person. I have really gotten to know her and we have become pretty close. I know she is someone I can trust when going through the recruiting process and someone who would be straight forward and honest with me. Pam is a great person and great at what she does.”
Ortiz had a game recruiting game-plan as she wanted to visit as many schools as she could. Among her final four—OU, Vanderbilt, Purdue and Miami—Gabbi went back to visit all but Vanderbilt and the OU visit ended up being official.
“I think I knew that I liked what I had seen the first time I visited Oklahoma, but I really didn’t know for sure I was going to commit,” said Ortiz. “Going into the visit I was extremely excited about the possibility that it could be the place for me, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go until I took that visit. So I was just super excited to go and just see what they could show me, and see if they had even more to offer.
“I think the visit did seal the deal. Everyone talks about that gut feeling and you will know in your heart when you find the right school for you. I would say that is what happened on my visit, that it probably sealed the deal on that visit when I got those good vibes on campus at OU.”
The OU Women’s Basketball Program is noted for hosting great recruiting weekends, and the weekend with Ortiz was no exception.
“They had me doing things left and right and coach Coale joked with me when I came in that they had not even left me any bathroom breaks because they had so many things that they wanted me to do,’ laughed Ortiz. “They wanted to fit a lot in and the first day I went to a couple of academic meetings and then we got to do more fun stuff. We got to go to the city (OKC) and went to Upper Crust Pizza and then went to Toby Keith’s restaurant.
“I got to go out with the whole staff and the team. One of the activities that we did was go to indoor go-carts, and those things are crazy. That was a really fun activity with the team, and just hanging out with the team and staff was what I enjoyed the most.
“One of the things that really hit me and my dad was when Pam took me back in the locker room and she told me that I was going to be able to get number 21, which was very important to me. When she took me back to the locker room, the jersey was laying there with the shorts and shoes and she said put all that on. I got to put on the uniform and act like I was going to play and walked into the practice gym and we got to take some pictures. That was when it hit me that I was going to be playing college basketball at Oklahoma within the next year.
“Then the last dinner I got to go to was at Coach Coale’s house and it was a big gathering of people. I got to see the family and hang out there and got a great steak dinner. So the whole visit was a great time and I had fun, but there was some seriousness to it knowing what I was getting into. This was one of the biggest decisions I will ever have to make and Oklahoma put it all out there and showed me they really wanted me.”
Ortiz is pure modern day point guard in that she can run the offense, but also lead the team in scoring and can be a coach on the floor.
“I am excited to see what I can do under Sherri,” said Ortiz. “She made the statement that after Morgan (Hook) has left she wants me to come in and lead her team. That is what I am going to try to do, and I am super excited to try to work for that point guard position. They are loaded with talent and loaded with guards, and they have a ton of wing players that can really play. They have Maddie Manning and Peyton Little next year, and I think we are going to be able to do some great things, just getting out and running the court with the great guards that we will have.
“Coach Coale said that the team will work off of me, basically creating with my game, and I feel I am going to be able to play my game at Oklahoma. I am just really excited to play at the college level with teammates that are at the same level as me. I am just excited to play at Oklahoma.
For The Prairie School star, leaving home will not be easy, but Racine, Wisc., is now Sooner Country as well.
“Obviously when the decision was announced and everyone heard, it was pretty big news around town,” said Ortiz. “I was loyal to one of my writers back in Racine because he had asked a while ago, and he had released it online. My dad and I are super close especially since my mom passed away when I was little, and he has been my best friend and my mentor. He is crazy and freaking out that his little girl is going away, and I just think he saw how happy I was that I was going to Oklahoma and he was just happy for me. I think he now realized how real this is.
“We had a pretty big celebration last night and it was a little surprising for the people around town, because no one knew when I was making a decision. When I did it, my dad was the only one that knew I was going to do it, so I had a lot of family and friends over last night, and everyone is just generally happy for me. It has been cool, and it has been a great two days. I got to hang out with family tonight and everyone is supporting Boomer Sooner. It has been really cool.”
Ortiz is on pace to qualify.