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With all the success the Michigan women's basketball program has had on the recruiting trail, one thing that's eluded them is a true post player. In fact, one recruiting service characterized the 2014 class as consisting of a 1, 2, 3, and 4. Well they've now added a 5 to that class: Terra Stapleton, a 6-4 center who attends Fairland H.S. in Proctorville, Ohio (located in the southeastern part of the state, near Huntington, West Virginia). She plays AAU ball for the West Virginia Thunder. She committed to Michigan today and will sign an NLI before the end of the early signing period on Wednesday.
Stapleton had committed to Minnesota in October 2012 but reopened her recruitment just within the last couple of weeks, reportedly because she wanted to attend a school closer to home.
Here's a Blue Star scouting report from a January 2013 event rundown:
Another member on Ohio’s ultra-deep 2014 class is this early University of Minnesota commit. The 6-4 post came in averaging a double-double and stepped up with another in the form of 13 points and 11 rebounds in Fairland’s 13 point win over Clinton Massie. Stapleton is deceivingly mobile for her size and frame plus shows a willingness to work for the ball aggressively block to block. Her size and strength are something she could exploit more around the rim and will no doubt be an asset for her at the next level. There’s already plenty of production but lots more potential for her to tap into.
As is often the case, the rankings on Stapleton vary widely: ASGR has her #332 in country, calling her a "strong, true low post player who can score and pass," while espnW has her as a three star and the #16 post nationally, which would place her just outside their top 100. espnW's brief eval is: "Low-block performer with size defends, alters shots; rebounds and initiates fast break; developing consistency on faceup game to the arc; average mobility in transition." Prospects Nation also has her as an unranked three star.
With Stapleton's commitment, Michigan is out of scholarships for 2014, barring any future attrition*. The staff is also left with just one open spot for 2015. With three commits so far for 2015, none of whom are post players, they may still look to secure a commitment from a center in that class. Among the players Michigan has targeted are 6-2 Batouly Camara (NJ), 6-6 Theresa Ekhelar (NJ), 6-4 Hallie Thome (OH), and 6-2 Jonell Williams (FL)—all highly rated prospects. Thome has been on campus multiple times; Williams took an unofficial visit in October and a Michigan coach recently trekked down to Palatka, Fla., to attend the first game of Williams's high school basketball season.
But there are a number of other top prospects they're also after who aren't centers, including two in-state players from 2015 who I've mentioned in previous threads: guards Kalabrya Gondrezick (Benton Harbor) and Cierra Rice (Grosse Pointe South). Michigan was also recently included in the final 11 of 5-9 guard Arike Ogunbowale, a 5-star, top-10 prospect out of Milwaukee. Her other finalists are Connecticut, Duke, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford, UCLA, and Wisconsin.
*Note that this is based on Val Driscoll coming back for a fifth season. She's listed as a senior on the Michigan roster but has another year of eligibility left after having sat out last season with a torn ACL. I'm not going to just assume she won't get a fith year on the basis of how she's listed on the roster, however.
Kim Barnes Arico and her staff officially inked a very good, four-athlete recruiting class today for 2014. Here's the first part of the press release announcing the signings:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan women's basketball head coach Kim Barnes Arico announced the signing of four student-athletes to National Letters of Intent on the first day of the early signing period on Wednesday (Nov. 13). All four athletes are ranked in the top 120 of the All-Star Girls Report (ASGR) and each has received at least three stars by HoopGurlz, including one four-star recruit.
Name Pos. Ht. Hometown (High School) Maria Backman G/F 6-1 Bronx, N.Y. (Cardinal Spellman) Jillian Dunston F 5-11 Germantown, Md. (Academy of the Holy Cross) Katelynn Flaherty PG 5-7 Point Pleasant, N.J.(Point Pleasant Beach) Emoni Jackson F 6-1 Pasadena, Calif. (Long Beach Polytechnic)
"This class has the potential be a special class, a group that makes a great impact on our program. The other great part about it is that they are all different but valuable in their own way. They are all 'Michigan' kids. They are great students, they are great people and they come from great families."
"I think being able to recruit to the University of Michigan and its academic reputation, as well as our tradition and pride, is what really piqued the interest of these young women. They all had great offers and could have gone to many different universities, but they picked Michigan because they believe in our vision and know they can come here to be part of something special. They want to be part of the Michigan tradition. That speaks volumes about University and what we are about. That is why we have the ability to go to anywhere in the country and get the caliber of player we have been able to get."
So, how good is the class? The release mentions ASGR having all four in their top 120, which amounts to the #22 class in the country, according to their updated class rankings. I think that position is a bit low given the rankings of the individual players; Michigan's class should at least be ranked above Michigan State's (which is #21). Note also that ASGR has Michigan's class ranked fourth-best in the Big Ten (behind OSU, Maryland, and MSU).
Another recruiting service, Blue Star, has Michigan's class at #25 and sixth-best in the conference. But it's worth noting that they use a numercial formula for determining the rankings that tends to be biased toward larger classes. So, for example, Minnesota's five-player class, which has none ranked higher than #89, is ranked at #23, which seems much too high. (Note that ASGR has the Gophers' class at #42.)
Overall, the consensus would be that this is a top-25 class and one of the top classes in the conference. As I said, it's a very good, and very athletic, class, and one that includes a consenses top-25 player—Katelynn Flaherty—who has a chance to be the first Wolverine woman to be a McDonald's All-American (a chart with full player rankings will be posted as a reply). Here's the concluding quote from Barnes Arico in the press release:
"I feel like moving forward there are a lot of areas that we have graduated or we found we had a need for, whether that is the need for people who can score like Katelynn, rebound like Emoni, shoot like Maria or have someone who can do a combination of all those things like Jillian. The four kids we are bringing in are really highly skilled and chose the University of Michigan over some other programs, top ten programs, to come here to be among the first to hang a banner."
For more info on the signees, including scouting reports, see the recruiting board.
An unbelievable recruiting week for the Michigan women's basketball program. Naomi Davenport, a 5-10 wing out of Mount Notre Dame H.S. in Cincinnati, Ohio, announced her commitment to the Wolverines today. Blue Star has her ranked #25 in the country in the 2015 class. That's three recruits committing to Michigan over a five-day span, all of whom are ranked in the top 100 by at least one recruiting service. (Keep in mind that some of the services haven't released rankings for 2015, while others have yet to issue a full top 100 or 150.)
Here's a brief scouting report from a Blue Star item posted about a year ago:
This 5-10 wing from Mt. Notre Dame plays with great passion. She is a gifted athlete that can get to the rim on almost any defender. The tools are there to handle the ball and shoot the pull up off the dribble if needed. Davenport can guard her position and just make plays. MND is in good hands with this evolving prospect.
There's room for at least a couple more players in Michigan's 2015 class. I'd look for at least one more guard (possibly an in-stater—Kalabrya Gondrezick or Cierra Rice) and a post (Hallie Thome from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, is one possibility).
EDIT: Just saw a tweet saying Davenport is 6-1. Could be the previous reports of her height were out of date. Also, her AAU team (Cincinnati Angels) lists her at 6-0, so I might go with that as a compromise.
EDIT2: Cincinnati Enquirer has a brief item on Davenport's commitment, which of course lists her height as 5-11! That's probably from her high school coach, so it might be the most accurate. The article says she also considered Cincinnati, Xavier, and Dayton.
In the tradition of commits coming in pairs, Lauren "Boogie" Brozoski committed to Michigan today, just a day after Nicole Munger verballed. Brozoski is a 5-5 point guard out of Long Island Lutheran H.S. who has long been a strong Michigan lean and is likely a player that head coach Kim Barnes Arico has been following for years. She's a consensus top 100 player in the class of 2015, with rankings of #82 and #84 from two major recruiting services, plus four-star status at a third (where she's likely just outside their current top 60). Brozoski is an absolute perfect fit for the Michigan program as can be seen from this April 2013 NYG Hoops Report eval:
Brozoski is the runaway top prospect on long Island in her class at this point. . . . and will be one of the top young playmakers to watch this summer. Her best fit is going to an up tempo program where she can play in the open floor and score in transition. She has all the tools and intangibles for a point guard. She is willing to play in your face defense, evidenced by her taking charges at a non view event while wearing a face mask. She was vocal in getting teammates into position and willing to take and make critical shots at the end on the game. Boogie plays with a high level motor and has a enormous competitive streak.
Last season, Brozoski led her high school to a state title and was named tournament MVP. Among the other schools recruiting her, she had offers from St. John's, Seton Hall, Boston College, and Hofstra. She had also garnered interest from Louisville, Maryland, and Virginia Tech.
Her nickname, you ask? Here's her explanation from an August pressconnects.com article (no longer available) in which she declared "I love the University of Michigan":
“My dad used to play with this guy in the streets called Boogie and he was like, ‘Know what? Your game reminds me of his, so I’m just gonna call you Boogie.’ ”
That was back when she was a fourth-grader. “It works for me, everybody calls me that. I like it.”
After pulling together a stellar 2014 class that's likely complete, Kim Barnes Arico and her staff are off to a great start on 2015 with the commitment tonight of Nicole Munger (who took an unofficial visit to Michigan earlier this month). Munger is a 5-8 combo guard out of Central Bucks West H.S. in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, in suburban Philadelphia. Blue Star has her ranked #67 in the country in the 2015 class. She plays AAU for the Philly Belles, so clearly newly hired assistant to the head coach Matt Bamford played a role here, as he coached the Philly Belles team Munger played on. But it's worth noting that Michigan was already recruiting Munger before Bamford's hiring.
Munger would have been another member of the all-motor team in North Augusta. From start to finish, game after game, there did not appear to be any drop in her energy level as she consistently played hard at both ends of the court. With a medium-thin build, she is not afraid to drive the key, often going left even though right-handed. She can spot up for threes but that does not appear to be her greatest strength. At the next level, she is probably more of a point guard but at this event played more off the ball due to Taylor Murray's presence.
With Barnes Arico implementing her preferred up-tempo style of play this season, it's clear from this evaluation why she'd be interested in Munger (and vice versa).
UPDATE: A local news article has been published on Munger's commitment: CB West's Nicole Munger verbally commits to Michigan. It says that Drexel, Saint Joseph's, Boston College, and LSU had also shown interest in her. Here's an excerpt:
"It was a big decision, but it was a really great one,' Munger said. "The school is beautiful and the education (Munger is considering business as a major) is amazing. Coach Bamford is a tremendous coach, but I have been looking at Michigan since the spring. Everything seems right there.'
Bamford was also a coach on Munger's AAU team, the Philly Belles. It was on the summer circuit where Munger managed to open eyes to her newfound shooting range and her undeniable intensity on the court. Many girls have natural ability, but not many have the hard work and passion of a Munger.
"Nicole is just an incredible kid who had an incredible summer with AAU basketball,' [Central Bucks West coach Terry] Rakowsky said. "Her team won the Nike National Championships. It is the way she plays the game that makes the difference. She is a great example for the other kids in the Bucks program.'
The Michigan women's basketball program secured verbal commitment #4 for its 2014 class tonight, as Emoni Jackson announced on Twitter: "It's official I'm a Michigan Wolverine #goblue." Jackson is a 6-1 wing/forward who's attending Long Beach Poly H.S. in California. She played AAU ball for Cal Sparks Gold, at one time teaming with Michigan freshman Siera Thompson. In fact, Michigan offered both Jackson and Thompson at the same time, in June 2012.
Jackson's a bit under-the-radar now because she suffered a torn ACL last summer, forcing her to sit out her junior season as well as AAU ball this summer. But before her injury, she had drawn interest from the likes of UCLA, USC, and Penn State. As I noted recently on the women's basketball recruiting board, her then high school coach in early 2012 called her a future All-American. That statement comes from a February 2012 local newspaper profile titled "Taking Charge" that also includes this:
This season, Emoni Jackson is averaging a double-double for the second consecutive year. She leads the team in scoring at 16.8 points per game and rebounds at 12.4. She leads the team in blocked shots (26), is second with 1.5 assists per game and has a team-high 2.4 steals per game.
All the while facing double and triple teams.
"I'm not surprised because I know I can do it," she said of her double-double average. "I'm proud that I've been able to score as much as I have. I just have to work harder and keep trying to get better."
She is also known to be a very good student.
Assuming she fully recovers from her injury, it seems like Jackson could be a real "steal."
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