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University of Alaska Fairbanks inks Highline's Victoria Elleby and Lower Columbia's Arinesha Smith

FAIRBANKS Head coach Cody Bench announced the Alaska women’s basketball team has signed a pair of junior college guards to National Letters of Intent as Victoria Elleby (Seattle, Wash./Highline CC) and Arinesha Smith (SeaTac, Wash./Lower Columbia College) will join the program this coming season.

“Both of these guards bring experience and maturity to our team,” Bench said. “As they become accustomed to our style, I believe they will both be strong assets for the next two years.”

Elleby, a 5-foot-10-inch guard, joins the Nanooks after playing her first two collegiate seasons at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Wash. She had a breakout sophomore season, which was highlighted by her being named to the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges All-West Region First Team.

As a sophomore, she helped the Thunderbirds to a 19-11 overall record, a third-place finish in the West Region and a berth in the 2014 NWAACC Women’s Basketball Championship. One season removed from averaging less than 4.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, Elleby became one of the team leaders in her second season, accruing 13.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. She was voted to the NWAACC Sophomore All-Star Game after tallying 21 of her 22 career double-figure scoring games, as well as four double-doubles.

Prior to junior college, she was a two-sport athlete at Chief Sealth High School in Seattle. Her career was highlighted by being named a Seattle Times 3A Metro Honorable Mention selection as a senior. She also excelled in the class room, as she was named to the NWAACC All-Academic Team in 2014. Elleby will major in political science when she enrolls next semester.

“We add a versatile threat with transfer Victoria Elleby,” Bench said. “She can handle the ball and shoot the three. She's strong enough to play inside and out and will help us on the defensive end.”

Smith, a 5-foot-5-inch guard, comes to Fairbanks following a solid two-year career at Lower Columbia College in Longview, Wash. She was a two-time NWAACC First Team All-West Region selection and a member of the All-Defensive Team her rookie season.

As a sophomore, she helped the Red Devils to a 22-7 record, runner-up in the West Region and a sixth-place finish at the NWAACC Women’s Basketball Championship. Following a season in which she averaged 11.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists, she was voted to the NWAACC Sophomore All-Star Game where she competed along with future teammate Elleby. During her freshman year, she scored 11.0 points per game while also averaging 4.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per outing. Smith tallied 35 career double-figure scoring games, which included a career-best 30 points as a sophomore. She also compiled single-game, career bests of 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

As a prep, she was a tri-sport athlete at Tyee High School in Seattle. Smith was a leader on the court as she was honored on the All-Seamount Conference First Team three times and once more on the Second Team. She led the state in scoring as a senior after averaging 28.5 points per game to go with 4.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals. A three-time Most Valuable Player of the Totems, Smith helped her team advance to the district tournament thrice and had a career-best 39 points in her final season at Tyee.

Smith was recognized as a Highline Scholar-Athlete in 2012 and was a member of the National Honor Society from 2010-12. Upon enrolling in the fall, she intends to major in business administration.

“Arinesha is a competitor,” Bench said. “She loves to win and works hard to help her team in any way possible. She is committed to bringing that same passion to our program. She has an awesome ability to get in the lane and score, as well as distribute the ball to an open teammate. She will be a nice compliment with returning guards Benissa Bulaya and Victoria Milton.”

Elleby and Smith join 5-foot-11-inch forward Heather Heild (Chandler, Ariz.) on the list of signed recruits for the 2014-15 women’s basketball season.

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