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Romano to make Stanford home

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It wasn’t a simple numbers game for Alexa Romano.

The rising senior at La Cueva High School piled up dozens of tantalizing women’s basketball scholarship offers over the past few years. She’s been steadily trimming prospective schools as the process has gone on.

The number was reduced to one late Saturday as Romano verbally committed to play for Stanford University. The sharp-shooting 5-foot-9 guard averaged 21.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists for La Cueva last season.

Romano and her family made things final while visiting Stanford’s campus in Palo Alto, Calif., this weekend. She’ll join one of the nation’s top women’s basketball programs and attend one of its most prestigious universities.

Simple decision, right? Not necessarily.

“It was such a hard decision,” Romano said Sunday, “and I took a really long time to accept Stanford’s offer. But I feel like it’s the right fit for me, academically, outside of basketball, just all the way around.”

Romano had scholarship offers from numerous schools, including one from the University of New Mexico that she received as a freshman. She gradually trimmed the list of suitors to four Pac-12 programs: Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon State and Stanford. ASU and Stanford ultimately became the final two.

Exciting as the recruiting process was, Romano said she never got used to telling prospective college coaches no. The worst such call came this weekend.

“Calling (ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne) was awful,” Romano said. “My heart still aches.

“But I’m relieved to finally have my decision made. Now I can start being excited.”

Romano became the second New Mexican to make a high-profile women’s basketball commitment in the past week. Clovis’ Danni Williams – Romano’s club teammate with New Mexico-Texas Heat Elite – committed to play at Texas A&M.

“That’s about as good as it gets,” Heat Elite coach Robert Sanchez said. “But Danni and Alexa are two of the best guards in the country, no ifs ands or buts about it. You don’t get the kind of offers they did unless you’re the real deal.”

Romano’s decision was made somewhat simpler this month when she received a call from Stanford coach Tara Vanderveer. The Hall of Fame coach informed Romano that she had qualified academically to attend Stanford.

“That was one of the reasons she had to wait,” said Alexa’s father, Alex Romano. “Once we knew she’d been accepted, it came down to making a final choice.”

Sanchez said Romano remained uncertain until last week, but he was not surprised by her decision.

“At the end of the day it’s hard to say no to Stanford,” Sanchez said.

Romano said she’ll now focus her attention on keeping her grades high and improving as a basketball player. She admits it’s still hard to imagine herself in a Cardinal uniform.

“It’s a little intimidating but really exciting at the same time,” she said. “Stanford is a different culture and it raises the bar a lot. It’s going to make me step up as a player and grow up as a person.”

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