Commentary

Rare talent Griner elevates to top of ESPN HoopGurlz rankings

Originally Published: June 23, 2008
By Chris Hansen | ESPN HoopGurlz

Brittney Griner is the future of women's basketball. She can do things on both ends of the floor that nobody before has done.

It's a no-brainer then that Griner, of Houston, Texas, is the No. 1 ranked prospect in the ESPN HoopGurlz 100 for 2009. This development represents the first change a top HoopGurlz rankings in its history.

[+] EnlargeKelsey Bone
ESPN HoopGurlzKelsey Bone will ignore traditional powers and sign with Texas A&M.
Kelsey Bone, from nearby Stafford, Texas, held the No. 1 spot from more than a year. Bone still is considered by ESPN HoopGurlz as the top, finished high school player in the country.

Click Here for the Full ESPN HoopGurlz 100

In the second rankings expansion since the high-school season ended, ESPN HoopGurlz released its early summer Top 100. The rankings will surely change with what we all expect to be a competitive July.

From running the floor and finishing on the break at 6-foot-8, to dunking on the opposition with intimidating force, to completely rewriting the opponent's idea of a good shot, Griner is nothing short of amazing. And the scary part is she's just learning how to utilize her gifts offensively.

Griner's ascent to the top of the rankings doesn't change our opinion of Bone, however. There hasn't been a post player as skilled as Bone in a long time. She is so far ahead of her peers that an argument could be made that she would be the No. 1 player in any class in recent memory. She is ready to contribute at any school in the nation today, and heading into her senior season she has to be the favorite for many high school player of the year awards. Bone is a leader on the court, playing with fire and passion.

So what gives? When ranking players, ESPN HoopGurlz projects where the player will be at the college level, and Griner's potential is incomprehensible in the sphere of normal expectations of women's basketball. ( See ESPN HoopGurlz's detailed evaluation on Griner's game.) Most women's hoops fans have not seen a player like Griner, and when they do, they are in for a treat. Her physical tools are unmatched: She has a strong upper body, extremely long wing span, good lift, great agility, very good quickness and her balance and body control are equally impressive.

[+] EnlargeTierra Ruffin-Prat
ESPN HoopGurlzRuffin-Pratt's game is fueled by her talent and determination.
Others at the top of this class are very talented too. Both Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (Alexandria, Va./T.C. Williams) and Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) find themselves near the top of a 2009 group filled with great interior players. Ruffin-Pratt leads one of the top club teams in the nation with her toughness and will to win, and Diggins finds herself the highest ranked point guard in the history of HoopGurlz rankings.

Since March, the rankings have expanded from the Super 60 to 80 and now to the ESPN HoopGurlz 100, so there are plenty of new faces and players who have made considerable moves up in the rankings.

ESPN HoopGurlz ranking panel

•  Chris Hansen covers girls' high school basketball nationally for ESPN.com and leads the panel that ranks and evaluates players for the network.
•  Mark Lewis is a columnist and national evaluator for ESPN HoopGurlz. Twice ranked as one of the top 25 assistant coaches in the game by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, he has more than 20 years of college coaching experience at Memphis State, Cincinnati, Arizona State, Western Kentucky and, most recently, Washington State.
•  Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A member of the McDonald's All-American and Parade All-American Selection Committees, he formerly coached girls club basketball, was the editor-in-chief of an online sports network, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer.

Taber Spani (Lee's Summit, Mo./Metro Academy) jumped 10 spots to No. 23 after a fantastic performance in Houston at the Nike Regional Skills Academy. Lauren Flores (Houston/North Shore) moved to No. 44 and Monique Smalls (The Woodlands, Texas/College Park) to No. 65 after strong showings at the Boo Williams and Houston Nike RSA events. Both of these Lone Star State point guards were previously unranked.

Other additions to the rankings include No. 36 Lexie Gerson (Philadelphia, Pa./Peddie School) and No. 55 Anna Prins (Broomfield, Colo.). Both showed well at Boo Williams, and Gerson cemented her place in the top 40 at the Philadelphia Nike RSA. The 6-foot-6 Prins adds yet another talented post player in a class bursting at the seams with size and skill. But Prins is not the only new Coloradan; Diana Rolniak (Aurora, Colo./Regis Jesuit), a 6-3 forward for one of the state's top teams, jumps in at No. 93.

[+] EnlargeDiana Rolniak
ESPN HoopGurlzColorado product Diana Rolniak played her way into the HoopGurlz 100.

A trio of Wisconsin players appear in the rankings, the most from that state in the history of the ESPN HoopGurlz 100. Taylor Wurst (Brandon, Wis./Ripon) is ranked No 85. The highest ranked of the group is Marquette commit Sarina Simmons (Milwaukie, Wis./Rufus King) at No. 59. Joining them is a high school teammate of Simmons, point guard Rachel Story (Milwaukee, Wis./Rufus King), at No. 98.

In all, California leads all states with 15 players ranked followed by Texas with 11 and New York with seven. With ESPN HoopGurlz covering the entire country full tilt starting June 30 at the Nike Skills Academy in Beaverton, Ore., expect some new faces in the post-July evaluation period. While the rankings are limited to the top 100 players, ESPN HoopGurlz will provide ratings and evaluations for many more.

Coming Tuesday, June 24: Glenn Nelson examines Brittney Griner's life above the rim with written and video pieces, and Clay Kallam puts the Griner phenomenon into perspective.
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