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Elle Tinkle, Kiara Kudron, Chelsea Walters signed NLI's to play women's basketball at Gonzaga.
Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics

Tinkle, Kudron, Waters To Join Women's Basketball In 2012-13

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 11/09/2011
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SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University women's basketball head coach Kelly Graves has announced the signing of three players to national letters of intent. Joining the Bulldogs next fall is Elle Tinkle, a 6-2 guard from Big Sky high school in Missoula, Mont., Kiara Kudron, a 6-2 forward from Huron high school in New Boston, Michigan, and Chelsea Waters, a 6-1 guard/forward from Lewiston high school in Lewiston, Idaho.

Collegiate Girls Basketball Report has Graves' 2012-13 recruiting class ranked 42nd.

"Coming off back to back Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight seasons, it was important to make a big splash on the recruiting front and I think we did," explained Graves about his recruiting class. "These three young women are exactly the types of players and people that will keep our program among the nations' best.  I love the fact that each is long, athletic, and very versatile, which makes them perfect fits for our style.  Each brings an amazing work ethic with great skills and tremendous upside-all ingredients that should make this a class to remember."

As a freshman, Tinkle helped the Big Sky Eagles to the 2008-09 Montana AA State Championship. The Eagles closed out the year with a 22-1 overall record and a 10-1 mark in the Western AA Conference. As a sophomore, Tinkle earned First Team All-State and First Team All-Western AA. This past season, Tinkle averaged 15.4 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game to again lead her team. She was named First Team All-State and First Team All-Western AA for the second-consecutive season and closed out the year as the State AA leading rebounder. Tinkle also lettered in volleyball and track and field. This past spring, Tinkle took second in the 400-meters and sixth in the 200-meters at the AA State Championships.

"Elle is a tremendous athlete who is a perfect fit for our style and system of basketball," stated Graves.  "Her toughness, length and quickness should enable her to be a tenacious defender as well as a great finisher in transition. Elle can handle the point, play with her back to the basket, shoot with range as well as slash to the basket, which will make her a matchup headache for most opponents.  Like all of our signees, Elle has tremendous growth potential as a player which means she'll continue to improve and her best basketball is ahead of her.  I also believe Elle is blessed with great leadership potential and might be one of the nicest people you'll ever meet."

Tinkle comes from a basketball rich family; both her mother Lisa and her father Wayne played at the University of Montana. Wayne Tinkle is in his sixth year as the head coach of the Montana men's basketball team. Her sister Joslyn is currently a member of the Stanford University women's basketball team.

Kudron has led Huron high school to 3-straight Huron League Championships. She is a two-time Michigan Class B All-State team honoree and Monroe County Regional Player of the Year. As a sophomore, Kudron averaged 17.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.9 steals in leading the Chiefs to a 22-4 overall record, 13-1 mark in the Huron League and the Class B State quarterfinals. As a junior, Kudron averaged 17.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game. She is a two-time first team All-Huron League and was named second team All-League as a freshman. Kudron is also a member of the volleyball squad and was named the Huron League Player of the Year in 2011.

"Kiara is our prototype player and person," explained Graves. "She is long, athletic, and very versatile both offensively and defensively.  She plays the point in high school but has the ability to play all five positions on the floor which makes her perfect for us. I love Kiara's competitiveness and her drive-she is a fierce competitor who has won at every level she's competed. Kiara can attack the basket well, shoots the three well, and has very good court vision as a longer guard.  Like all our signees, Kiara has tremendous growth potential as a player which means she'll continue to improve and her best basketball is ahead of her. Kiara has a fun personality and understands what it means to be a great teammate."

Kudron's sister McKenzie currently is a member of the Hofstra University women's basketball team.

As a freshman and sophomore, Waters attended Moscow high school. At Moscow she earned 4A All-Inland Empire honors both seasons and as a sophomore led the team to the 4A Inland Empire League Championship and 4A Inland League Empire Regional Championship. In her first season at Lewiston high school, she averaged 8.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game and led the Bengals to a 23-4 overall mark and to the 5A State Championship. For her efforts as a junior, Waters was named 5A All-Inland Empire and 5A All-State. Lewiston was also named the 2010-11 North Idaho High School Team of the Year. Waters is a member of the volleyball squad and just this fall earned 5A All-Inland Empire honors, was the Bengal Offensive Player of the Year and a District II All-Star.

"There is nothing that Chelsea can't do on a basketball floor which makes it hard to put her in any position category," said Graves. "A lot of people rate her as a power forward, others feel she's best suited to be a point guard, still others see her as a wing. We see her as all of the above which makes her a special talent. Chelsea has the ability to handle the ball and has good vision, yet can shoot the three as well as post up and play a power game, all of which will make her a tough matchup. She has a ready-made Division I body and a lot of growth potential. If Chelsea works hard to improve, the sky's the limit.  Chelsea is also a winner, a very nice young woman and a great teammate."

Waters father Frank was a standout basketball player at the University of Idaho.   

Gonzaga opens its 2010-11 season hosting Hofstra Friday at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Game time is set for 4 p.m.

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