Although their Class of 2024 recruits have yet to see any game action, Penn women’s basketball has boarded on another class of recruits as they prepare for their next season.
Just under two weeks ago, the team announced that six new players would be joining the team, which is up from four last year. There appeared to be an emphasis on backcourt play with this class, as four of the six recruits will play at a guard position, while two will play at one of the forward positions.
"Every year our coaching staff works extremely hard to recruit a dynamic, well-rounded group of student-athletes who can make an impact both on and off the court and I am thrilled to say we have done just that," Penn women’s basketball head coach Mike McLaughlin said via Penn Athletics. "This class exhibits the dedication to excellence and the strong work ethic that makes up the foundation of the culture that has been established within the Penn Women's Basketball program.”
Leading off the recruiting class is 6-foot guard Stina Almqvist from Kinna, Sweden. Prior to joining the Quakers, Almqvist played 13 years with Marbo basket in addition to two seasons with Svenska basketligan dam, which is a Swedish professional basketball league.
Almqvist earned Swedish championship gold twice, notching MVP, Player of the Finals, and an All-Star team selection both years. She also won the Scania Cup twice and earned MVP, scoring title, MVP of the final game, and an All-Star team selection both years.
"As a bigger wing, Stina will bring great size, athleticism and versatility to our perimeter game,” McLaughlin said via Penn Athletics. “She has the ability to score in multiple ways while also impacting the game on the defensive end with her length. Stina competes hard all the time and has played at a high level in Sweden that has prepared her for the competition she will face here at Penn."
Joining Almqvist in the backcourt will be 5-foot-8 guard Lexy Calhoun from Barrington, R.I. During her time at Harriton High School, Calhoun was a two-time Harriton Female Athlete of the Year recipient and was a four-year starter on her school’s basketball team.
She also comes to Penn with some strong ties to all facets of the athletics program. Her father Jason Calhoun is the current head coach of the men’s golf team, and her mother M. Grace Calhoun was the school’s Athletics Director until she accepted the same job at Brown earlier this year.
Another future member of the Quaker backcourt will be 5-foot-11 guard Lizzy Groetsch from Sewickley, Pa. While at North Allegheny Senior High School, Groetsch led her team to a 103-8 record. Additionally, during her senior season, she was a key part of their 6A PIAA State Championship, which was their first in school history.
Groetsch comes to Penn after being arguably the best high school women’s basketball player in Pennsylvania during her career. Her accolades include 2021 Pennsylvania Player of the Year Class 6A, 2021 Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Player of the Year, 2020 Pennsylvania Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Year, two-time Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Girls Basketball Player of the Year, and two-time Cover 3 Athletics Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Rounding out Penn’s backcourt additions is 5-foot-10 guard Marianna Papazoglou from Wildwood, N.J. She exits Wildwood Catholic Academy after becoming the school’s all-time female leading scorer with 1,768 points. Most of her scoring came during her sophomore year, when she became the first player in school history to score 1,000 points in a season.
"Marianna is an aggressive scorer who competes at a high level,” McLaughlin said via Penn Athletics. “She can shoot the three while also having the ability to score and make plays in the open floor. We are excited about her versatility and the depth she brings to the guard position. Overall, she is a great teammate who exhibits a high level of energy all the time."
One of the two forwards joining the team will be 6-foot-1 Iyanna Rogers from Richmond, Va. During her time at Highland Springs High School, Rogers was a four-year starter and a two-year captain in addition to earning two All-Region nods. Several other members of her family played basketball collegiately, but most notably, her cousin Chris McCullough played in the NBA with both the Brooklyn Nets and the Washington Wizards.
After garnering interest from the program as soon as they saw her, Rogers knew she had found a solid fit.
"The first time I was introduced to Penn was for a basketball camp and coach McLaughlin offered me on the spot! The amount of faith and confidence he had in me to do that said a lot,” Rogers said via Penn Athletics. “And after talking to the coaching staff, the players, and other students, I realized how great, high achieving, but humble people they are and I knew I wanted to play for, play with, and learn with."
The last member of Penn women’s basketball’s latest recruiting class is 6-foot-2 forward Sima Visockaite. The Kaunas, Lithuania native comes to Penn with a wealth of international experience, having played for Lithuanian national teams over the course of the last five years.
Visockaite has competed in three FIBA European championships and was deemed the best U18 Lithuania player in 2019.
“I am really looking forward to beginning this new journey with another tremendous class at one of the best universities in the world,” McLaughlin said via Penn Athletics. “I cannot wait to watch them grow both as individuals and together as an entire class."