Left Moriah Faulk of the Santa Monica High School GIrls Varsity basketball team makes a drive to the basket as she knocks over Jasmine Johnson of the Canyon Springs Girls Varsity basketball team as Johnson steped in front of Faulk and was called for the foul inside the North Gym located on the campus of Santa Monica HIgh School as SAMO hosted Springs for the second round of CIF division 1 state playoffs and won 59-56 to adavance to the third round (photo by Morgan Genser)

SAMOHI — When Santa Monica High School’s girls’ basketball team takes the court this season it will be with a trio of NCAA Division 1 recruits on their side.

Senior guard Moriah Faulk, who transferred to Samohi last season, has made a verbal commitment to play for UCLA. She joins fellow future D-1 players Kristina “KJ” Johnson (University of the Pacific) and Bianka Balthazar (St. Mary’s College), who announced their school choices last week.

“I picked UCLA because you can’t beat the education,” Faulk said. “Besides, some of my other choices were too far and too cold.”

She decided on UCLA after considering offers from Kansas, Vanderbilt, Washington and Boston College. Faulk, who is originally from Arizona, said that proximity to Santa Monica wasn’t as much a factor as the potential for early playing time.

“Of course I want to go to collage and play, it played a big role,” Faulk said. “But, it depends on how hard I work in practice.”

Faulk is coming off a junior season that saw the Samohi Vikings win their first ever California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section girls’ basketball title. She averaged just under 10 points a game once she was cleared by CIF-SS brass to play last season.

Also working in UCLA’s favor was the fact that Thea Lemberger, who helped lead the Vikings last season, will be a Bruin teammate.

While Faulk said that Lemberger’s influence didn’t factor into her choice, she did admit that it would be fun playing together again.

“She knows the game really well,” Faulk said of Lemberger. “She’s a hard worker.”

The verbal commitment is non-binding, but Faulk said she intends to honor her choice come national signing day.

“It will be a good fit,” Samohi Head Coach Marty Verdugo said. “Coach Nikki [Caldwell] runs a great program.”

Verdugo said that Caldwell immediately recognized Faulk’s athletic talent and began pursuing her during the off-season.

“I had a pretty good part to play,” Verdugo said of the recruiting process, “but, obviously her talent took over and she did the rest.”

Samohi is expected to begin the preseason in a tournament hosted by fellow Ocean League member Inglewood in early December.

daniela@www.smdp.com

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