BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON HIGH — Layana White breathed a sigh of relief Monday.
As she sat behind a desk in the middle of the Bellarmine-Jefferson High gym, the girls' basketball standout picked up a pen and signed her name to a letter of intent to attend the University of Arizona.
Although White admitted she felt fortunate to be headed to a Pacific-10 Conference program, she said the process of choosing a college was both time-consuming and difficult.
"I'm just glad it's finally over," White said. "There was a lot to think about with the schools I had to choose from. I'm just glad that I'm going to get to play at a Pac-10 school."
White said she ultimately chose the Wildcats' program for a few reasons.
"I just really love the coaching staff," she said. "I like the players on the team and I like the style of play. They run an up-tempo offense, which I like."
Last season, the Wildcats finished with 14 wins, their most victories since 2005. In a historic win over Oregon on Jan, 16, Arizona scored a school-record 119 points and freshman guard Davellyn Whyte scored a single-game record 39 points.
The Wildcats won the Iona College Tip-Off Tournament to start the 2009-10 season before advancing to the Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinals for the second-straight season.
Guards' Coach Jacelyn Johnson, who took over the Bell-Jeff girls' program, knows the benefits of playing at the Division I college level. Johnson broke records at Kansas before playing in the WNBA. She said White's opportunity will be invaluable.
"The opportunity to go to such a big-time school is very big," Johnson said. "One, it's a major Division I school and you have the best of the best in athletes, and two, it's going to set her up with a platform for success."
Johnson also said White finalizing her collegiate choice prior to her senior season should take some pressure off the young athlete.
"Instead of worrying about stats and trying to get the college attention, she can concentrate on playing her game," she said. "It's a lot of pressure going through the whole college process. But that's behind her now."
Last season, White, a guard, earned All-CIF Southern Section Division VAA first-team honors, averaging 12.6 points and 4.2 steals a game.
She helped the Guards (25-7) to a Santa Cruz League title.