Irish Eyes Smiling
Muffet McGraw had a doubly pleasurable Wednesday night. Just mintues after her Notre Dame women's basketball team won its home opener over Evansville, the Irish head coach received the news from prized recruit Skylar Diggins. The No. 3 prospect in the ESPN HoopGurlz Hundred told McGraw that she's staying home in South Bend, Ind., for her college career.
Thus ended one of the most dramatic recruitment in years. Diggins, who grew up in the shadow of the institution, became its highest-profile recruit since Ruth Riley, and did so as the clock was about to expire on the early signing period.
The decision dashed the hopes of Stanford earning a recruiting national championship. With No. 10 Joslyn Tinkle and No. 16 Michaela Ruef already in the fold, the Cardinal would have leapfrogged from No. 9 to the top of the signing class rankings with the addition of Diggins. Penn State, the other finalist for Diggins, has a class ranked 16th in the nation.
The late commitment clinched a No. 1 ranking for Baylor, whose class is headlined by Brittney Griner, the country's No. 1 prospect from Houston. North Carolina, Illinois, Cal and Virginia complete the top five of the Super Sixty class rankings to be released in full by ESPN HoopGurlz on Thursday.
Notre Dame of course was the big winner of the evening. Diggins is the highest ranked point guard in the history of the ESPN HoopGurlz Hundred. She was the starting point guard, leading playmaker and second-leading scorer on the USA Basketball team that last summer claimed the FIBA U18 Americas championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Diggins is quick and savvy, as well as perhaps the most competitive player in her class. Her ballhandling skills are so polished, she was called out by lead instructor Ganon Baker as an example at the Nike National Skills Academy last summer. She also is a complete package as a scorer and is a determined defender with quick hands and feet.
The 5-foot-8 Diggins is the highest-ranked prospect to commit this year. Griner verballed to Baylor the summer after her sophomore year and No. 2 Kelsey Bone will sign in the spring. Bone, of Houston, is considering Illinois, South Carolina, Texas and Texas A&M; a commitment to Illinois would raise coach Jollette Law's program to No. 1 in a re-reckoning of class standings.
By all accounts, Diggins had a gut-wrenching decision. The hometown school also was assumed to hold the edge, but there was the pull of Stanford, its academics and cache of All-American front-line candidates, as well as that from Penn State, the close ties between its coaching staff and Diggins' family. In the end, as it usually does, home and proximity to family won out.
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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 email@example.com.
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