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Cal Women's Basketball

2024 Guard Lola Donez Talks About Her Commitment to Cal

November 2, 2023

The Bears picked up a commitment this week from Lahainaluna (Lahaina, Hawaii) High School guard Lola Donez, one of three commits from the 2024 class. Donez also played with the Jason Kidd Select team, winning the prestigious Select 40 national title and finishing rated the number two program this year with fellow Cal commits Kamryn Mafua and Gaby Abigort. 

"I would say my recruiting probably started in Junish with them," Donez said of her relationship with the Cal program. "Just with Jason Kidd going there and me playing for him. And then a lot of my teammates as well had offers. So they always had a coach at our game and I just happened to have like a really good summer I guess and they ended up offering me but a couple of my teammates are going there. So I have those connections with them. And then just with the coaches and everything, they're all really great."

Though the Cal and NBA Hall of Fame point guard has obligations that often keep him away from his program’s tourney events, particularly during the NBA season where he coaches the Dallas Mavericks, he makes sure to check in as often as he can.

"He comes to some of our tournaments and then our last one, our going away tournament for the seniors,” Donez said. “We also had a banquet and this year we went to New York and played at Rucker (Park). And he rented out part of a restaurant where we just had lots of food and he had rings made for us for winning the Select 40 championship.

"It's pretty cool to be able to say that I'm going to the same school and just kind of have that connection with him because he's been really influential with us the last few years I've been with Kidd and everything."

"Lola, we put her on everybody's top point guard during the summer to make that run and she just kind of locked up some of the top point guards in the nation," Jason Kidd Select coach and director Armando Pazos. "I mean, girls that are ranked top 20, top 30 just couldn't get around her because of her length and she's extremely quick and extremely fast. She's super athletic. She's an amazing driver to the basket. Great vision. She's working on her three which she started hitting down the stretch, which was huge for us in the championship game. I think she had two or three of them. But the one thing I'll say about all three of these girls, and this is why I love what Jason's helped us build is the culture. These three kids are culture kids. They will be in the gym from morning to night if you let them.

"And then with Lola being from and now moving back to Maui, but leaving there during COVID to come over here, kind of leaving her family behind shows you how big of a role basketball is in her life and she wasn't going to let anything stop that. I think you don't really find that nowadays with a lot of kids. You got a kid who's just tough as nails that doesn't care what people think. All she wants to do is get out there, get better and help her team win. She could score 20 points for us in a game but she's doing what's best for the team. And I think she got overshadowed by some of the people in our program but during the summer, Jason was like, she’s one of my favorite kids to watch because she does everything. So it's just cool to see it's paying off for her.”

After starting her prep career freshman year in Maui at Lahainaluna High School, Donez transferred to Oaks Christian during the pandemic for her sophomore and junior years before returning home to Hawaii this season for her senior year. As a junior at Oaks, Donez averaged 13.7 points, 5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.7 steals per game, earning Marmonte League Player of the Year.

Fortunately, Donez and her family were spared during the devastating Lahaina blaze in August that wiped out a wide swath of her hometown but the horrible loss in the community will be felt for years to come.

"We didn't lose our house but a lot of my friends did," Donez said. "And obviously, the town and everything. And then with my dad's work, he was impacted, but we still have our house, which is lucky and all our friends and family are safe and everything."

Donez will be coming in for Cal’s first season in the ACC and the newest Bear is looking forward to Cal’s new conference foes.

"I'm excited," Donez said. "Obviously, the travel is gonna be a lot, but it's gonna be cool to be able to play all those just those new teams, you know? And I'm excited to just be able to kind of go with my two teams that I've been with the past two years and just be able to travel with them and just have those experiences."

Ultimately, there were a number of factors that made Cal the best fit for Donez.

"I really loved I love the campus and obviously, the education is really, really high and for what I want to study, they have a great program,” Donez said. “And just for basketball, I loved the girls when I visited. They were very welcoming, very kind at the practice I watched. I loved it and all their facilities, everything, the coaches. They just have a lot of resources and it's really cool."

Other stories:

Smith, McIntosh and Suarez Highlight Cal Women's Media Day

2024 Guard Lola Donez Talks About Her Commitment to Cal

2,334 Views | 5 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by CalFanatic
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Excellent interview! I learned about her defensive capabilities and solid all-around game. GO BEARS!
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Wait, have all 3 of our commits come from the same KIDD AAU team ?
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HoopDreams said:

Wait, have all 3 of our commits come from the same KIDD AAU team ?

Yup more stories coming soon...
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HoopDreams said:

Wait, have all 3 of our commits come from the same KIDD AAU team ?
Now, we've got a pipeline.

I like the part of the story that says the coaches put Lola on the other team's top point guard. And she locks them down. Defense!!!
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Already having that chemistry and previous history of winning BIG tournaments is invaluable. It feels like the Lady Magic pipeline for Cal softball, producing many of our greats the past 10-15 years (Jolene and Danielle Henderson, Cheyenne Cordes, Ziegenhirt, etc)
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