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Our fourth installment previewing the 2013 recruiting class focuses on the Big East. Here's a team-by-team look at what to expect.
Cincinnati has been in rebuilding mode, adding talent and building a culture of winning, for the past couple seasons. In 2011-12, Cincinnati played with just one senior on its roster and had to incorporate a good amount of youth -- a total of seven freshmen and sophomores -- into the fold. Going into next season, coach Jamelle Elliott will look for her young players to turn the corner with an extra year of experience under their belts.With its 2012 class, Cincinnati picked up another solid group that will provide more depth at nearly every position. With just two seniors set to graduate in 2013, Cincinnati will have a lot of stability. With its open scholarships in the class of 2013, Cincinnati should be able to shift the focus from addressing key areas of need on the roster to focusing on key targets who can make an impact early during their Big East careers. ESPN HOOPGURLZ PROJECTED TOP 3 TARGETS
2011-12 was another successful season in Storrs as coach Geno Auriemma took a UConn team with just one senior to the Final Four yet again. UConn relied on a host of youth to contribute in key situations all season long. With only the departure of Tiffany Hayes to graduation and the loss of transfer Michala Johnson to Wisconsin, look for 2012-13 to be another outstanding season for UConn.Led by Breanna Stewart, the No. 1 overall prospect in the country, UConn put together the No. 1 recruiting class for 2012. In addition to Stewart, the Huskies added Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck, two of the top-15 players in the country. With a majority of its team returning for next season, UConn will have the flexibility to allow this talented trio of players to adjust to the college game without the pressure of early production.
The 2013 class for UConn has the potential to be another banner recruiting year. Although the Huskies will have six available scholarships, expect them to keep their numbers limited to only three or four in this class. UConn got some of the top prospects in the class, including Diamond DeShields, Erica McCall and Taya Reimer on campus early in their high school careers. The Huskies have also taken hard looks at Linnae Harper and Saniya Chong.
DePaul's 2011-12 season was hampered by health issues. Coach Doug Bruno had to rely on a short bench to compete throughout a tough Big East regular season. All things considered, the season was an overall success as DePaul managed to win 23 games and make the NCAA tournament.As its roster rolls over, the key for DePaul will be getting healthy and getting its freshmen acclimated to Bruno's system. DePaul will have to replace Keisha Hampton and look down the road to address the loss of standout guard Anna Martin to graduation next year. With Hampton and Martin leaving in the near future, finding an impact scorer and continuing to add depth across the frontline will be two key areas.
With the departure of coach Terri Williams-Flournoy, the Georgetown program is in flux until a new coach is named. The Hoyas, though, are coming off a good year, finishing fourth in the Big East and making an appearance in the NCAA tournament.
The new coach will be walking into a program that is ready to win. Williams-Flournoy leaves Georgetown with one of the country's best perimeter scorers in Sugar Rodgers and the No. 26 recruiting class in the country. There is a lot of talent on the current roster, and the school is in one of the hotbeds of talent with some of the country's best players in driving distance of the Big East campus. With the 2013 class, the new Georgetown coach will have to focus on adding a primary post scorer and an additional point guard. The current roster for the 2013-14 season is absent of an offensive-minded post presence and is limited with one true point guard in Taylor Brown and a couple combo guards returning. A true point guard in the 2013 class would be a nice addition to a team that is poised to stay near the top of the Big East standings.
Louisville coach Jeff Walz and his staff have done an excellent job of adding talent to their roster the past couple years. While their 2012 class isn't big in terms of numbers, it does address Louisville's needs and adds depth to the roster. With its 2012 class, Louisville added a perimeter scorer with size in Megan Deines and a physical inside presence in Cortnee Walton, one of the best rebounders in the class.Louisville is also on solid footing for the class of 2013 with commitments from two of the best players in the state, Makayla Epps and Kyvin Goodin-Rogers. With two prospects in hand, Louisville will turn its attention to adding impact recruits in hopes of compiling one of the best 2013 classes in the country. Louisville is listed as a potential destination for the No. 1 player in the country, Mercedes Russell, and the top-ranked in-state recruit, Rebecca Greenwell.
Marquette may have been one of the youngest teams in the Big East in 2011-12, playing with a combined 10 freshmen and sophomores and only one upperclassman. Next year, coach Terri Mitchell will return her entire team and still only have one senior in the program. The youth movement in Milwaukee has allowed Marquette to focus its recruiting efforts, and it added the No. 89 overall prospect in Ashley Santos and an additional point guard in Brooklyn Pumroy.
The Golden Eagles will have the ability to continue to target specific impact players in 2013 with no glaring positional need to be filled. The key recruiting year for Mitchell and her staff will be 2014, but until then Marquette can focus on putting together a class that can make an impact with highly regarded prospects who can help move the Golden Eagles up the ranks of the Big East.
With only two scholarships available in the 2013 class, look for Memphis to focus its efforts on recruiting high-impact wings and post players who can earn immediate playing time. This will be the first class that Memphis takes into the Big East, and the staff is looking to hit a home run.
After two straight national championship game appearances and reeling in the No. 4 recruiting class in the country for 2012, the Fighting Irish take a lot of momentum as they turn to recruit the class of 2013. They lose three key senior starters in Brittany Mallory, Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters and a key reserve in Fraderica Miller. The impact will be cushioned by the arrival of their 2012 signees, Jewell Loyd, Michaela Mabrey and Hannah Huffman, who will be asked to contribute early in their time in South Bend.
The 2012 class for Notre Dame has to be considered a success for Muffet McGraw and her staff, but the one piece they weren't able to address was adding a true post threat to replace Peters. With Malina Howard picking Maryland over Notre Dame, the Irish will look to the class of 2013 to address their post needs, an area they have already made a move on with the early verbal commitment of Diamond Thompson. Look for McGraw and her staff to focus on adding even more post depth with some of their remaining scholarships. Finding a replacement for Skylar Diggins at point guard is something that will need to be addressed as well, as the 2013 class will be the beginning of the post- Diggins era.
Providence, like many schools this spring, is in transition with a coaching change. New coach Susan Robinson-Fruchtl is inheriting a program with a solid base of talent and a good 2012 recruiting class to build on. With a solid foundation, Robinson-Fruchtl will look to add depth to her roster as she begins the new era of Providence basketball.A good strategy for Robinson-Fruchtl and her staff would be to use at least one of their six scholarships to fill each position across the board, which would give them a good amount of depth and allow them to minimize the damage if a player or two transfers. With just two projected 2013 grads, Robinson-Fruchtl and her staff may elect to use only four or five scholarships in 2013 and make an effort to build new relationships and recruit the Northeast hard for the class of 2014.
The freshman class heading to Rutgers this fall is ranked No. 3 in the country by ESPN HoopGurlz, and it has the potential to be very special for coach C. Vivian Stringer. Next year the 2012 class will join the No. 3 ranked class from 2011, giving Stringer and her staff a collection of young talent as good as any team in the country. The breakdown of the two classes will give Rutgers a tremendous amount of flexibility because the 2011 guard-heavy class was balanced well by a post-heavy 2012 class.If there was an area of need for the Scarlet Knights, it would be on the wing, where they could stand to add a knockdown perimeter shooter to help open the floor for their guards and post players. Kelly Hughes, a 5-11 guard from Point Pleasant, N.J., may be a target in that role. Another key target for Rutgers will be keeping the state's best 2013 prospect, Teanna Muldrow, home.
Coach Anne Donovan and her staff have begun the rebuilding process. Their 2012 class, which includes four highly regarded high school seniors and two top junior college prospects, has the potential to make a major impact. With just two graduating seniors this year, look for Seton Hall to have the depth and talent to make an improvement next year with the 2012 recruiting class playing a role in that success.One need for the 2013 class will be adding a true point guard. As it is comprised now, Seton Hall has a roster with a number of combo guards but no true floor general to run the team. With only three scholarships for the class of 2013, and a true post prospect in Rachel Madden locked into the class, look for Seton Hall to focus its efforts on adding a point guard and maybe one other prospect for the class of 2013.
With six potential graduates for the class of 2013, this will be an important recruiting year for South Florida. Over the next two seasons, coach Jose Fernandez and his staff will lose five guards. Replacing depth in the backcourt is a key area of concern in Tampa, Fla., and Fernandez addressed some of those needs in 2012 with the signings of Shavontae Naylor and Courtney Williams.
In 2013 the Bulls will be able to use as many as seven scholarships and should focus on adding depth in both the frontcourt and the backcourt. Finding a back-to-the-basket post player and a true point guard will be two priorities. The Bulls carried 14 players on their roster this past season, so don't be surprised if they opt to use six or seven scholarships for this class.
With a second-place finish in the Big East and a 24-win season, there was a lot for St. John's to celebrate in 2011-12. But the Red Storm will lose a key contributor in Da'Shena Stevens, and they will try to replace her production with the addition of a promising recruiting class, which includes the No. 74-ranked player in the ESPN HoopGurlz 100, Sandra Udobi, and three very good guard prospects in Ronika Ransford, Cedrica Gibson and Ashley Perez.
Next season St. John's will lose two key pieces to graduation in Nadirah McKenith and Shenneika Smith. Having Gibson and Perez a year early should help replace McKenith. Finding a wing with Smith's scoring capability is a tall task and one that might be best done by committee rather than in the form of a true replacement. The addition of Ransford, a former McDonald's All American, should help cushion the blow felt by Smith's departure. Coach Kim Barnes Arico and her staff have six scholarships to work with for the class of 2013. Look for them to make a splash.
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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.