Peters Township's Natalie Wetzel poses for a photo with parents Matt and Erica while on an official visit to the University of Miami last month. (Submitted)

More than 20 colleges told Natalie Wetzel “We want you” as they recruited her to play basketball at their respective schools.

But in the end, it was Wetzel who said, “I want The U.”

Wetzel, a senior at Peters Township and one of the top girls basketball players in the WPIAL, made a verbal commitment to the University of Miami on Saturday and made her plans known on social media Tuesday.

“I had been talking with my parents about it the night before,” Wetzel recalled. “We really couldn’t stop thinking about [Miami] since visiting a few weeks ago. I decided it was time. I said, ‘I want to commit.’”

A 6-foot-3 forward, Wetzel averaged 17.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game her junior season while earning PUP first-team honors and Class 6A second-team all-state recognition. She will enter her senior season with 1,136 career points.

Peters Township’s Natalie Wetzel averaged 17.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists a game her junior season. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Wetzel would become the third Peters Township player in recent years to play at a Power Conference school. Makenna Marisa recently wrapped up a fantastic career at Penn State, while Journey Thompson played the past two seasons at Arizona State before transferring to Syracuse in May.

Wetzel had quite a few programs pursuing her, among them Power Conference schools Pitt, West Virginia, Minnesota, Arizona State, Boston College, Georgetown and St. John’s. Wetzel said her recruitment ultimately came down between Miami and Richmond, which went 29-6 and reached the NCAA tournament last season.

Miami advanced to the Elite Eight in 2023 and went 19-12 last season, but the Hurricanes had a coaching change this offseason after Katie Meier retired following 19 years as coach. Enter new coach Tricia Cullop, who previously had lots of success at Toledo. While Cullop was at Toledo, she recruited and offered Wetzel, a relationship that has continued to grow since. Cullop extended Wetzel a Miami offer in May.

“She was happy that I committed,” said Wetzel, who plays AAU for the Western Pa. Bruins. “I’m just excited to get down there. I really like the coaching staff. That was one of the biggest things. They really care about the success of the athletes, even outside of basketball.”

Wetzel said she needed only one visit to the school to fall in love with it. She visited with her parents June 28, touring the campus on a golf cart. Said Wetzel, “It’s like going to school on a resort.” Wetzel said she has always enjoyed warm weather and the beach. Her summer has included a family vacation to Cancun.

“I think it’s a great location,” she said. “It’s like a two-hour direct flight. Great area. Coral Gables is so nice. And they have great academics. That was also a big factor for me.”

Wetzel would become the first WPIAL or City League player to play at Miami since Westinghouse’s Shawnice “Pepper” Wilson just over a decade ago. Wilson finished her career at Miami after playing her first two seasons at Pitt.

NA kicker picks Alabama

It’s not every day a local player commits to play football at an SEC school, especially at the University of Alabama. But that’s exactly what happened recently when North Allegheny senior kicker Peter Notaro announced his intentions to play for the Crimson Tide. Notaro was offered June 22 and announced his commitment July 3.

“It’s definitely not something that happens all the time,” North Allegheny coach Art Walker said. “When you’re talking about SEC schools coming up north to recruit any position, you’re probably a pretty good player.”

Notaro fits the bill. Notaro might not be a household name locally, but he has been a star on the kicking circuit. Kohl’s Kicking ranks him a 5-star recruit and No. 4 kicker in the nation. Notaro was an all-conference pick last season when he helped North Allegheny capture the WPIAL Class 6A championship. He was 15 of 17 on extra points and 7 of 10 on field goals. His season long was 47 yards.

“He’s really good,” Walker said. “As a freshman, we knew he was good. As a sophomore, he was doing kickoff duties and traded off time for extra points and field goals. He then took the job last year. He’s got unbelievable range, and his kickoffs go into the end zone. He’s definitely going to be a great weapon for us his senior season.”

Notaro will begin his career as a preferred walk-on, which is often the case for many specialists. He also considered PWO offers from Pitt, West Virginia and Ohio State.

Kavals to Akron

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart senior Vann Kavals not only has a unique first name, but as a 6-foot-5, 240-pound standout quarterback-defensive end, he’s also one of the WPIAL’s most unique talents. Kavals has decided to take those talents to Akron, which recruited him to play defensive end. Kavals committed to play for the Zips on Saturday, choosing the MAC school over a list of offers that included Miami (Ohio) and Air Force. Kavals had his sophomore and junior seasons end prematurely due to torn ACLs.

Baseball commitments

Hempfield’s Quinn Wilkins (Allegheny); Thomas Jefferson’s Jason Siemon (Point Park).

Basketball commitment

Mt. Lebanon’s Payton Collins (Bowdoin).

Football commitment

West Allegheny’s Brock Cornell (Bucknell).

Soccer commitment

Derry’s Alayna Williams (Robert Morris).

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at