HOUSTON - The heartbeat of the Houston Heights women's hoops team is heading to UTEP.
"The relationship I have built with the coaches & team over the past several months really made UTEP feel like home," Heights point guard Gracelynn Alvarez, who verbally committed to the Miners on Sunday, said. "Coach Baker and his staff really made me feel that they are invested in helping me grow as an individual and a player.
"Playing at the next level means everything to me. I'm blessed to have my tuition paid for and not have my parents come out of pocket for it. Also, playing at the next level at UTEP is a stepping stone for me to prepare for playing overseas, which is what I plan to do after graduating UTEP."
Alvarez was a key part to Heights posting an impressive 26-9 overall record and going 11-1 in district play last season. During their 35 games, Alvarez averaged a team-leading 18.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.9 steals per game.
HOUSTON - The Miners have their quarterback of the future.
Fort Bend Hightower signal-caller Jakolby Longino verbally committed to UTEP earlier this week, which gave the Miners their first verbal commit of the Class of 2021.
"Coach Canales is a great coach and he has coached multiple NFL QB's," Longino said. "Multiple styles and different skill sets. He has a lot of experience. He broke down the offense to me. It's similar to what we do at Hightower. I feel as if it's a perfect fit."
Last season, Longino passed for 1,514 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Hurricanes leading them to a 6-5 record. Longino had three offers - Texas Southern, Prairie View A&M and UTEP - when he decided to commit.
At the end of the day, the UTEP coaches were up front and honest, which went a long way with Longino.
"They were very honest. They told me everything I needed to know about last year and what their plan were heading forward," he said. "I feel like we need that one person light the fire in our recruiting class and I asked my self why not me?"
Looking at UTEP's 2020 signing class, the Miners didn't sign a quarterback during that session and Longino is the first 2021 prospect to verbal.
Heading to El Paso for college, Longino stated there won't be a lot of distractions since they are in the desert and him and his teammates "can focus and get this program back to winning". UTEP has gone 1-11 the past two seasons and posted an 0-12 mark in 2017.
For Longino, this moment means a lot to him and his family as knows he will get to play college football.
"It's has been a long journey for us," he said. "A lot of ups and downs but we made it. All Glory to God!"