Loretta Kakala is coming home.
The University of the Pacific announced Tuesday that its women’s basketball team has landed the five-star recruit out of Manteca High, though she won’t be eligible to play until the 2019-20 season.
The 6-foot-2 center was previously with nationally-ranked Louisville where she redshirted after appearing in just four games her freshman season. She played 42 minutes and averaged three points and three rebounds. Kakala returns to action next year as a sophomore.
“We spoke with Loretta and her family and they felt that a move closer to home was the best thing for her,” Louisville Jeff Walz said in a release. “Loretta dealt with numerous injuries during her time here, but she is a very talented player and an excellent student. We will miss her, wish her nothing but the best going forward and will follow her career at Pacific closely.”
Kakala was named the Manteca Bulletin All-Area MVP for the 2016-17 season after leading the Buffaloes to the Valley Oak League championship. She became the second Mantecan and first Manteca Unified student to be selected for the McDonald’s All-American Games — Chelsea Gray, who now stars with the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, did so in 2010 but prepped at St. Mary’s of Stockton.
Kakala averaged 15.6 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks during her senior campaign with Manteca. She started with cross-town rival East Union and transferred after her freshman year.
Ranked highly by several recruiting services, Kakala signed with Louisville before the start of her final season at Manteca. She also considered Arizona State, Cal, Georgia Tech, Kansas, San Diego State UCLA and Washington.
She joins a Pacific team that finished 15-17 last year and advanced to the third round of the West Coast Conference Championships.
“Honestly, it feels as though Loretta is coming home,” Pacific coach Bradley Davis said in a statement. “Her accolades speak for themselves, but because we've known Loretta since her high school days, her addition to the team will truly be like a homecoming of sorts.
“This is exciting for our program. We feel as though we've continued to build and strengthen Pacific Women's Basketball over the past few years, and the addition of Loretta is another great addition to our Pacific family that should have our fans excited for the present and future."
Kakala isn’t the only big-time recruit to make the move to the Stockton school. This upcoming season marks the first for USC signee Valerie Higgins, who transferred to Pacific in August of 2017. Higgins is a 6-foot guard from Granada Hills who played for the Team USA under-18 team.