Duke leads the way in recruiting
Duke Blue Devil fans have plenty to cheer about this November. Preseason and non-conference play are just taking off, and Joanne P. McCallie's 2010 recruiting haul is just touching down -- or at least their pens are touching down on their national letters of intent.
With five players signing this week, Duke has the top recruiting class in the country, at least until the last uncommitted ranked prospect, No. 1 Chiney Ogwumike, makes her decision. No. 8 Shoni Schimmel will sign in the spring.
It stands to reason the Blue Devils may keep that top spot and the mythical recruiting title. They have two players who are ranked by ESPN HoopGurlz among the top six spots in the class and all five of their committed players are ranked in the top 70.
Expected to sign with Duke this week are Chelsea Gray (No. 4) from Manteca, Calif.; Richa Jackson (No. 6) of Oklahoma City, Okla.; Haley Peters (No. 19) of Shrewsbury, N.J.; Tricia Liston (No. 33) from Oak Park, Ill., and the most recent commit, Chloe Wells (No. 52) of Cary, N.C., via Southern California.
The only scenario that would re-open discussion about the No. 1 class is if Ogwumike, of Cypress, Texas, picks Connecticut. Many believe she will join her sister at Stanford and Notre Dame also is in the mix.
The signing of this star-studded class should ease the anti-McCallie sentiments coming from some fans on message boards who mourned the loss of the beloved Gail Goestenkors and scoffed at Duke's 2009 signing class for not having a major "blue chip"recruit.
This class arguably has three high school All-American caliber players, and maybe even four. The commitment of Gray gives Duke the No. 2 point guard in the class and the late addition of Wells means the backcourt will be deep for years to come. With the multi-positional trio of Jackson, Liston, and Peters, there should be mismatches galore in coming seasons.
Chelsea Gray: She has the size -- she's 5-11 -- strength, range, and passing to be a Kodak All-American.
Richa Jackson:She is an explosive 6-1 scorer who plays a physical brand of ball and can score inside and out.
Tricia Liston: As a 6-0 wing, she is a fantastic shooter and passer. She should be able to play either wing position depending on matchups and make an impact because she has basketball I.Q. as well as skill
Haley Peters: Overlooking her in this class would be a huge mistake. The 6-3 forward has grown her perimeter skills by leaps and bounds and her footwork in the post is the stuff of instruction videos. Add to that her unmatched work ethic and leadership and she may be the piece that makes a talented class something truly special.
Chloe Wells: The 5-7 Wells is the consummate point guard who pushes the ball effectively and gets everyone involved.
With this signing class Duke fans can breathe easy as there will be plenty of talent buzzing around Cameron Indoor. Life after Goestenkors might not be so bad after all.
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Chris Hansen is the national director of prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz and covers girls' basketball and women's college basketball prospects nationally for ESPN.com. A graduate of the University of Washington with a communications degree, he has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a high school and club coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. Hansen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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