Seiwa Gakuen standout guard Norika Konno signs with Louisville

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Seiwa Gakuen High School’s Norika Konno, a highly touted prospect, has signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team in the 2019-20 season, Cardinals coach Jeff Walz announced on Monday.

The Cardinals are currently ranked No. 5 in The Associated Press’ latest Top 25 women’s poll. The team’s impressive 2019 recruiting class is ranked No. 14 overall by espn.com among NCAA Division I schools.

This year, the 178-cm Konno has raised her profile on the international basketball scene with standout performances at the U-18 Women’s Asia Championships in Bangalore, India this fall, where she played for the Japan national team. Konno scored 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting against China, and posted averages of 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in five tourney games.

This summer, Konno starred in the 3-on-3 tournament at the Asian Games in Indonesia, helping Japan claim a silver medal. In her top game at the tourney, she put 28 points on the board and corralled nine rebounds.

“Norika has a flash and flair for the game that fans will love,” said Walz, who has been at the helm since 2007 and compiled a 299-96 record at the school entering the current campaign, in a statement. “She can score in bunches and is a relentless worker. She takes great pride in developing her skills and is always studying the game to perfect her craft. A fast-paced game suits her style and there is no doubt Norika will soon become a fan favorite.

“She and her family are excited to undertake this new challenge and contribute to a championship team.”

Japan women’s national team head coach Tom Hovasse described Konno as “a player with a lot of potential.”

“I’m excited to watch her development and know she is in good hands with Coach Walz,” Hovasse commented. “This is a win-win-win situation for Norika, Louisville and Japan women’s basketball.”

Last season, the Cardinals reached the NCAA Women’s Tournament Final Four and went 36-3 overall.