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Our third installment previewing the 2013 recruiting class focuses on the SEC. Here's a team-by-team look at what's up down south.
The 2011-12 season was a chance for coach Wendell Hudson to get seven new players experience because the roster only had one senior. In addition to all the new faces, Alabama was without their lone McDonald's All American, Kaneisha Horn, who tore her ACL before the season. With Horn's absence due to injury, in addition to all the new faces of junior-college players and transfers, the Alabama roster was recovering from a good amount of turnover from the previous season. With Horn back next season and a year of gained experience for key contributors such as Kyra Crosby and Jessica Merritt, things in Alabama appear to be headed in the right direction.The 2013 class for Alabama is already off to a great start with a verbal commitment from in-state guard Courtney Hunter. With three remaining scholarships for the 2013 class, look for the SEC school to focus on trying to lock down the state of Alabama and keep the top prospects in the state at home. Top Alabama prospects Marques Webb, Jasmine Rhodes and Keonna Farmer have all been on campus unofficially, and so has Louisiana's Halle Washington, the No. 21 prospect in the ESPN HoopGurlz Super 60.
This past season, coach Tom Collen and his staff managed to win 24 games with a team full of experienced seniors and juniors. With five players graduating this season and four more due to graduate at the end of next season, Collen and his staff will have to focus on replacing a large number of key contributors in the next couple of classes.
The current makeup of Arkansas' 2012 class gives them two guards who should be able to help early on in the backcourt in Dominique Wilson and Melissa Wolff. There is a chance Collen and his staff will look to work the junior-college ranks to add a player or two to the class. With eight scholarships currently available for the 2013 class, there is an immediate need for depth. Adding a junior-college player or two in either class may be a viable option as opposed to recruiting a deep freshman class and relying on playing a large volume of freshmen and sophomores in two years. For the 2013 class, Arkansas as a state has a host of Division I talent. Tyler Scaife, the No. 10 prospect in 2013, Jessica Jackson, No. 13, and Roshunda Johnson, No. 50, are all residents of the Razorback State. Rachel Madden, a 6-4 post, and McKenzie Adams, a 5-8 guard, are also Arkansas prospects who have received a lot of interest. Keeping a handful of these local kids home should be a priority.
There is a new coach in Auburn as former Georgetown head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy has taken over at the helm of the SEC program. One of the key adjustments for Williams-Flournoy will be adjusting to a roster that lacks the athleticism that she had early on at Georgetown as she begins to recruit players who fit her up-tempo style.Auburn's recruiting for the next couple of years will focus on adding athleticism to the perimeter positions as Williams-Flournoy begins to lay a new foundation for Auburn basketball. There is a nice mix of interior size and guard play due to be on campus for years to come, which will give Williams-Flournoy the flexibility to recruit for fit vs. recruiting for need. While she was at Georgetown, Williams-Flournoy did an excellent job keeping local talent home. Only time will tell if she will be able to use her DMV connections to lure kids to SEC country while also luring the best of the best in her area to Auburn's campus.
As she heads into her fifth season as head coach of the Gators, Amanda Butler has built the foundation for success in Gainesville. This year the Gators advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where they were eliminated by the eventual national champion, Baylor.
From a recruiting standpoint, the 2012 class was a success for Florida as it managed to pull in the No. 20 class in the country. Florida did a good job replacing key areas of loss with their 2012 recruiting class. The loss of Jordan Jones to graduation created a need for perimeter shooting, and the addition of Chandler Cooper fills that well. The departure of Azania Stewart and Ndidi Madu creates a void in the rebounding department that Christen Mercer and Sydney Moss will be asked to step in and help fill. January Miller is an athletic guard who will help fill the void left by Deana Allen's departure.
With their 2013 class, Florida will have to concentrate on replacing their primary post scorer, Jennifer George, who is scheduled to graduate next year. In-state post Kai James will probably be a key target as the Gators look to keep one of the country's best post players home. Another key area for the Gators will be adding to their depth on the perimeter. Landing an athletic forward such as Ronni Williams or an explosive guard such as Raiygne Moncrief would go a long way in that department.
Another successful season is in the books in Athens, as coach Andy Landers continues to keep Georgia at the top of the SEC standings and among the top 25 programs in the country. Georgia finished third in the SEC last season with a roster that only carried one senior. With the No. 21 recruiting class on the way and a strong senior class that returns four starters, the state of the union in Athens is on solid ground as Landers prepares to have one of his most well-rounded teams in years in 2012-13.
The 2012 recruiting class was a major haul for Georgia as it was able to bring depth to a roster that was in need of it. This past year Georgia played about half of its games with a roster that was depleted by injury. As a result, they leaned heavily on freshmen and played key contributors out of position throughout the year. This bodes well for Georgia next season as it will have an experienced senior class and a talented freshman class to work with throughout the year. Depth won't be an issue for the upcoming season, but to ensure that Landers doesn't find himself in a similar situation in two years he will have to sign a number of prospects for the 2013 class.With their 2012 class Georgia did a good job of adding quality prospects that can compete on the SEC level. They scored two post players with upside in Merritt Hempe and Kaelyn Causwell, a true point guard in Marjorie Butler, a versatile wing in Shacobia Barbee and a guard who can score in Tiaria Griffin. As they look to the 2013 class, an elite wing and a back-to-the-basket post player will be two key areas. Georgia will lose two of its leading scorers in Jasmine Hassell and Jasmine James, and that kind of offensive production will need to be replaced. Currently Georgia has a verbal commitment from 6-foot-3 post Samantha Glodis of West Palm Beach, Fla. Georgia is targeting a high volume of the top prospects in the country, and Kaela Davis, Taya Reimer and Rebecca Greenwell have made unofficial visits. They have also made the first cut from Mercedes Russell, the No. 1 prospect in the class.
Coach Matthew Mitchell has done an excellent job of turning Kentucky into one of the country's elite teams. Kentucky won the SEC this past season and finished one game short of the Final Four with a loss to UConn in the Elite Eight. With former Pac-12 standout DeNesha Stallworth eligible for next season after a transfer from Cal and a McDonald's All American on the way in Janee Thompson, things are looking great for the future.Any time you talk about recruiting for Kentucky, you have to take into account that so much of what the Wildcats do defensively is predicated on them having quality depth throughout the roster. Kentucky is one of the most aggressive defensive teams in the country, and the Wildcats play as many as 12 players in an attempt to wear down opponents. Kentucky has to look for players who fit its style of play on defense while still finding one or two key scorers who can help carry the load when the game slows down and half-court offense is key. Kentucky is in the driver's seat with its 2013 class. The Wildcats have depth returning throughout their roster position-wise, and they have enough scholarships to go after a high number of prospects because they can take as many as five in the 2013 class. Look for the Wildcats to try to add one or two impact scorers as well as another quality post player to continue to solidify their frontline. Kentucky already has had unofficial visits from top-10 prospects Rebecca Greenwell and Allisha Gray.
The 2011-12 season was big for LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. For starters, Caldwell and her staff moved from UCLA across country to Baton Rouge to take over one of the most tradition-rich programs in the country. In her first year at LSU, Caldwell's team reached the SEC championship game and added four more regular-season wins to the previous year's total. With a year of success under her belt, Caldwell and her staff will look to continue the momentum from a strong first season on the recruiting trail this summer.LSU's 2012 is ranked ranked 19th in the country, and the staple of the class was keeping the local talent home. Kuaneshia Baker and Darreyal Youngblood were the two best in-state prospects, and LSU landed them both. Also, Caldwell and her staff went into Tennessee and landed another top prospect in Danielle Ballard. The three-player class has the ability to help Caldwell lay the foundation for her program as she begins to recruit athletes who can play her style of basketball and increase the tempo in Baton Rouge.
As they look to the 2013 class, it is clear that LSU will have some work to do in replacing the post players and size it will lose this year due to graduation. LSU also will need some additional backcourt help because guards Bianca Lutley and Adrienne Webb are scheduled to graduate after next season. LSU is listed as favorites for two ESPN HoopGurlz Super 60 members, No. 12 Ronni Williams and No. 13 Jessica Jackson. There is also a good amount of local talent in the area, especially post-wise. Halle Washington and Khadijah West are two highly regarded post prospects in the state of Louisiana. For backcourt help, look for LSU to look out of state at targets such as Arkansas' Tyler Scaife and Roshunda Johnson.
2011-12 was an up-and-down season for Ole Miss, and after a 12-18 finish, there is a new head coach. Adrian Wiggins takes over and will try to rebuild the SEC women's basketball program after having quite a bit of success at Fresno State, where he made five straight NCAA tournament appearances.When Wiggins looks to start mapping out his recruiting targets for the 2013 class, he will be able to cast a wide net. The current Ole Miss 2012 class is only two players deep, and with four players scheduled to depart the following year and only 11 players on the current roster, Ole Miss should have plenty of flexibility to add talent where it sees fit.
Look for Wiggins and his staff, including former Trinity Valley Community College head coach Kenya Landers, to focus their recruiting efforts on both high school talent and junior-college players.
After an offseason coaching change, the future of the Mississippi State women's basketball team rests in the hands of former Texas A&M assistant Vic Schaefer. Schaefer will make the move to the SEC along with his former school as they both make the jump from the Big 12. Schaefer will focus his efforts on duplicating the success that he helped build at Texas A&M and take it to Starkville.Schaefer has a solid foundation to build with moving forward. Mississippi State's current freshman class has a solid combination of size and athleticism with the likes of 6-4 post Martha Alwal and 5-5 guard Jerica James. In addition, Mississippi State will add two solid recruits in four-star post Dominique Brooks and three-star guard Jessy Ward. With a foundation of solid post play and quality guard play, Schaefer will be able to use his remaining scholarships to find athletic wings who will be able to pressure and defend the way he is accustomed to coaching.
After a tough year in the Big 12, the Tigers will be headed to play conference games in the SEC next season. With the move, Missouri coach Robin Pingeton and her staff will have to adjust their recruiting strategies to fit a new conference, a new style of play, and a new area on the map.
Missouri's 2012 class is comprised of four three-star players who should be able to replace the depth and production that the program will lose with the graduating class. One of the key areas of concern for the Tigers as they begin to recruit for the SEC will be adding athleticism, and that will be something that they will look to address as early as the 2013 class. There are two in-state targets that should be high on Missouri's list, 5-9 guard Sierra Michaelis of Mercer, Mo., and 6-3 center Sydney Stipanovich of St. Louis.
With four seasons under her belt, Dawn Staley has the program headed in the right direction. Last season, Staley and her team won 25 games and landed a top-25 recruiting class for 2012. Recruiting will be crucial for South Carolina the next couple years because the Gamecocks have moved out of the rebuilding stages and on to becoming one of the SEC's more established programs.In its 2012 class, South Carolina did an excellent job of replacing the guards it will lose this year due to graduation and can now focus its 2013 efforts on adding depth to the frontcourt. In addition to being top guards in the 2012 class, Asia Dozier, Tiffany Mitchell and Khadijah Sessions are local prospects that decided to stay close to home. Look for South Carolina to try to continue that trend by going after Alaina Coates, the No. 20 prospect in the 2013 class from Irmo, S.C., and build the rest of its class around the Super 60 post player.
Any mention of Tennessee's future has to take into account its historic past and the new uncertainty that surrounds the program. Overall, the 2011-12 season was another banner year for one of women's basketball marquee programs. Tennessee added yet another SEC tournament championship and made another deep run in the NCAA tournament. While there is certainly a bit of uncertainty in Knoxville, there is also a strong program that remains one of the elite destinations in the women's basketball world.From a recruiting standpoint, Tennessee has a lot of room scholarship-wise to work with. Tennessee graduates five seniors this year and brings in three freshmen. While the 2012-13 roster for Tennessee might be thin in terms of depth, it will be strong in terms of talent with six of the nine players either a McDonald's All-American or a WBCA All-American. From a personnel standpoint, Tennessee did a solid job replacing a talented senior class with impact freshmen. With the focus now on the 2013, Tennessee has the ability to put together a large recruiting class that will help add depth and size. Tennessee will have the ability to use as many as eight scholarships for the 2013 class, and with only seven players slated to return the following year, the need for impact recruits will be paramount to continue the program's success. Two of the main areas of concern for Tennessee will be adding a quality post player and adding a big wing with the ability to play multiple positions on the perimeter. Tennessee is in the mix for a couple players who fill that need, including post player Mercedes Russell and wing Diamond DeShields. A recent decommitment from the SEC school, Kaela Davis, also fits the immediate roster needs of the program for 2013.
A year removed from winning the national championship, Texas A&M finds itself in a new conference with the No. 2 recruiting class in the country on the way. The outlook in College Station looks to be very bright, especially if the Aggies can keep Kelsey Bone on campus for the next two seasons and away from the temptations of heading to the WNBA a year early.
A lot has been made of the collection of talent that Texas A&M coach Gary Blair and his staff amassed for the class of 2012. Six of top 100 guards and wings are headed to College Station next year, and they will give A&M the ability to press and rotate throughout the game. With their 2012 class so strong on the perimeter, the emphasis for the 2013 class will certainly be adding one or two forwards with size for frontcourt depth.
This past season the Commodores received balanced production. The good news in Nashville is that the Commodores lose only one player, reserve forward Jordan Coleman, and return a starting lineup that finished the season 23-10 with a 9-7 conference record. The combination of success from the 2011-12 season as well as a number of key returners for the upcoming year makes the outlook for coach Melanie Balcomb and her staff very bright.One of the key issues for Vanderbilt last season was depth. The Commodores carried only 10 scholarship players on their roster, and at times were only able to play eight or nine healthy bodies. Much of Vanderbilt's depth concerns will be solved next season as they add six players with their 2012 recruiting class, which includes two top-100 prospects in Morgan Batey and Jasmine Jenkins. The additions of Jenkins and Batey will provide Vanderbilt with immediate depth at the guard positions, while the frontline size that they gained with the rest of the class will help stave off any losses felt from the 2013 departures of Tiffany Clark and Elan Brown. Currently Vanderbilt has one commitment in the 2013 class from ESPN HoopGurlz Super 60 guard Kylee Smith. The combination of Smith and the depth that Vanderbilt acquired with its 2012 class means Vanderbilt can recruit the class of 2013 without focusing on filling a glaring need.
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Keil Moore is a contributor and national recruiting analyst for ESPN HoopGurlz. He is also the Director of Scouting for the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report - a division of Peach State Basketball, Inc. Moore has been involved in the community since 2007 as a recruiting analyst and trainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Chris Hansen contributed to this report.