Commentary

Don't be surprised if Stanford eventually hauls in top class

Yes, it's way to early to say who will have the top recruiting class of the year, but it sure if fun to try to figure it out. Glenn Nelson offers his take on how it will all shake out.

Updated: November 12, 2008, 7:15 PM ET
By Glenn Nelson | ESPN HoopGurlz

With half of the ESPN HoopGurlz top 12 prospects still uncommitted, calling the mythical national recruiting championship today would be like declaring a winner after only three quarters in a WNBA game. But to offer an idea of what the final recruiting class rankings might look like, we made some projected commitments and offered what could be a resulting preview.

Big caveat: These are just gut calls. None are based on any inside information from recruits or anyone else. And, most important, these in no way should be construed as our advising what the prospects should do. Plus, two of the uncommitted prospects -- No. 2 Kelsey Bone and No. 12 Tayler Hill -- say they are likely to sign in the spring.

The gut call starts at the top, with Stanford. Our theory, based on recent history, is that nearly every recruit who is admitted to the school usually commits to the Cardinal. Since Stanford lost one such athlete this year in Krista Gross (who decided to stay home and attend North Carolina), we're guessing its not going to lose two others.

One other thing: These are more than adding up rankings or ratings; they take into account how the pieces fit, as well.

1. Stanford Cardinal

Skylar Diggins (No. 3) and Joslyn Tinkle (10), plus previously committed Mikaela Ruef (16), Kayla Pedersen, both Ogwumike sisters (penciling in Chiney to join Nneka in 2010) and Sarah Boothe would give coach Tara VanDerveer has as much overall size and athleticism as she's ever had.

2. Illinois Fighting Illini

Destiny Williams (No. 8) and Karisma Penn (18) could become as big, athletic and versatile a forward tandem as there is in women's college basketball. Adrienne GodBold (36) adds inside-outside punch from the backcourt, with banger Briana Jones, guard Amber Moore and forward Kersten Magrum filling out coach Jolette Law's mobile lineup.

3. Virginia Cavaliers

This projects No. 9 Tierra Ruffin-Pratt to be bowled over by coach Debbie Ryan's tremendous recruiting momentum in 2009, joining ESPN 100 prospects China Crosby (14), Erinn Thompson (21), Lexie Gerson (37) and Simone Egwu (71) in the most well-rounded class in the country.

4. Baylor Lady Bears

No projections needed here as coach Kim Mulkey has sewn up a huge class, headlined by game-changer Brittney Griner (No. 1). She is joined by athletic thumpers Mariah Chandler (17) and Shanay Washington (64), and afterburners Jordan Madden (58) and Kimetria Hayden.

5. Texas A&M Aggies

Projecting Bone to head on down the road virtually gives coach Gary Blair four-fifths of a ready-made starting five with Kristi Bellock (29) as a versatile wing-forward, Diamond Ashmore (48) providing more inside umph, Adrienne Pratcher (60) at the point and Cierra Windham (98) slinging in jumpers from the wings.

6. California Golden Bears

This was a good year to go volume in the ESPN 100, and coach Joanne Boyle cashed in big time with seven ranked recruits -- Tierra Rogers (No. 20), Eliza Pierre (22), DeNesha Stallworth (24), Gennifer Brandon (30), Talia Caldwell (43), Brenna Heater (49) and Layshia Clarendon (67) -- who can really move and D it up.

7. Georgia Lady Bulldogs

Recruiting-wise, coach Andy Landers came back in a big way with a pair of real bruisers in Jasmine Hassell (No. 11) and Tamika Willis (80), a sharpshooter with size in Anne Marie Armstrong (41) and a combo guard who can make it go in Jasmine James (51).

8. North Carolina Tar Heels

After plucking some of the best guards and shooters in the country the past couple of years, coach Sylvia Hatchell rolls in some big girls in Waltia Rolle (No. 28), Cierra Warren (31) and Nyree Williams (88). She also adds another polished scorer in Gross (23), who plays like her batteries never need recharging.

9. USC Trojans

Coach Mark Trakh signed a sweet trio, with Monique Oliver (No. 6) bringing much-needed size, and Christina Marinacci (35) and Kendall Hackney (55) adding to the team's shooting riches while adding length.

10. Tennessee Lady Volunteers

Reports of any slippage in coach Pat Summitt's recruiting are highly exaggerated, as this class nicely fills in around the last two stratospheric groups with ultra-competitive shooter Taber Spani (13), versatile post Faith Dupree (69) and highly-athletic guard Kamiko Williams (75).

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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. He can be reached at glenn@hoopgurlz.com.