May 1, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball program has awarded sophomore guard/forward Ariana Gnekow a full scholarship, head coach Mark French announced Tuesday. A walkon in 2006-07, Gnekow bounced back from knee surgery a year ago to have a tremendous freshman campaign for a Gaucho squad that qualified for a 12th consecutive postseason appearance.
"We are absolutely delighted to be able to reward Ariana for all of her hard work and everything she has given to the program," French said. "We are happy that a great kid and tremendous athlete will no longer have to pay for her education."
Gnekow came to Santa Barbara after suffering a severe knee injury her senior season at Santa Ynez Union High School that required surgery after graduation. Cleared to play before the start of the season, Gnekow appeared in 32 games for the Gauchos, starting three as a freshman. The Santa Ynez, Calif. native averaged 3.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 0.7 assists in 14.7 minutes per game in 2006-07, the second most amongst UCSB freshman. She helped lead the squad to the second round of the WNIT, where the Gauchos lost to Oregon 70-54.
"Ariana is a throw-back type of Gaucho and it was great to watch her come back from her knee injury and go on to have a great freshman year," French said. "She's one of those mentally tough players we like to have and she will only get better the next few years."
Gnekow gives Santa Barbara the full NCAA allotment of 15 scholarships for the upcoming 2007-08 season. French and the Gaucho coaching staff still have two full scholarships to award for 2008-09.