|ESPN.com: Girls Basketball||[Print without images]|
|Diamond DeShields, the No. 3 prospect in the Class of 2013, commited to North Carolina on Saturday, giving the Tar Heels the highest-ranked junior commitment to date.|
The sound you just heard is North Carolina crashing the party of national championship contenders in women's college basketball.Any time a program lands a potential superstar -- as the Tar Heels did Saturday morning with a commitment from Diamond DeShields of Norcross, Ga., the No. 3 prospect among 2013 girls' basketball players -- it puts itself into play as a force. But coach Sylvia Hatchell and staff also have laid the groundwork for a blockbuster supporting cast, getting pledges on Saturday from from Allisha Gray of Sandersville, Ga., the No. 8 prospect in the 2013 class; Stephanie Mavunga of Brownsburg, Ind., the No. 15 prospect in the 2013 class, and Jessica Washington of Tulsa, Okla., the No. 18 prospect. Of the latter three, Gray widely is regarded as one of the best scorers in the country, giving the Tar Heels a formidable one-two punch with DeShields on offense. Who eventually becomes the one and who becomes the two won't even matter. The amount of talent committed to North Carolina -- four of a single class' top 18 players -- in one day is staggering, and likely unprecedented. All of this is on top of a 2012 signing class ranked No. 10 nationally by ESPN HoopGurlz, plus a 2013 recruiting class already in the lightning round. It isn't often that a program misses the NCAA tournament, as North Carolina (20-11) did in 2011-12, then follows that by landing what is shaping up to be one of the top recruiting classes in the country. The Tar Heels are a long-venerated program and that recent, comparative mediocrity (by UNC standards) means opportunity for elite prospects to swoop in and have immediate impact. So they are in an apparent swarm. Pull back the curtain and you'll witness the machinations of a master recruiter, Trisha Stafford-Odom. She previously sprinkled her fairy dust on a resurgent Duke program, then made a somewhat controversial flip to an archrival and is doing the same at North Carolina. It's because of Stafford-Odom, and the phenomenon of momentum feeding upon itself, that it's likely the Tar Heels are not done in this class. They still are getting a strong look from Rebecca Greenwell, the No. 5 prospect from Owensboro, Ky. North Carolina also still is on the list, albeit still a long one, for No. 1 Mercedes Russell of Springfield, Ore. Don't discount her. She and Mavunga are close friends and have talked publicly of trying to play on the same college team.
|The No. 15 prospect in 2013, Stephanie Mavunga of Brownsburg, Ind., shortly followed commitments from No. 3 Diamond DeShields and No. 18 Jessica Washington to North Carolina, making Saturday a huge day for the Tar Heels.|
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Discuss this on our Message BoardGlenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A graduate of Seattle University and Columbia University, he formerly coached girls' club basketball, was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of an online sports network, authored a basketball book for kids, has had his photography displayed at the Smithsonian Institute, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.