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.