Commentary

Baylor casts wide net, lands big stars

Updated: November 4, 2011, 10:13 AM ET
By Brandon Clay and Keil Moore | HoopGurlz

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey has had success recruiting players from all over the country en route to turning the Waco, Texas, program into a national contender year after year.

Recruiting Weekly Wrap illustration
ESPN.com illustration

Niya Johnson, a 5-foot-7 point guard from Gainesville, Fla., is the latest player to migrate from her home region to play for Mulkey in the Big 12. Johnson had no shortage of elite programs wanting her to join their rosters, turning down scholarship offers to play in-state at Florida State and Miami. Like Baylor, both programs are ranked in the Top 25 in the initial preseason college rankings. A four-star guard, Johnson is ranked No. 43 in the 2012 class by ESPNU HoopGurlz and is the third out-of-region player in the class for the Bears, joining Chardonae Fuqua from Birmingham, Ala., and Destiny Brown of Monroeville, Pa.

The only in-state prospect in Baylor's class to date is 6-4 center Kristina Higgins of El Paso, Texas, who is ranked No. 56 overall.

-- Brandon Clay

Washington keeps a big one home

Katie Collier from Covington, Wash., had plenty of considerations in making her decision of whether to leave the Emerald City for college or stay home and play for the Huskies. After being diagnosed with leukemia shortly after getting sick on her official visit to Washington, Collier has decided to stay close to home to suit up for new coach Kevin McGuff. In the 6-3 Collier, McGuff and his staff gain a pledge from one of the top power forwards and the No. 21 prospect overall in the country. Adding her skill set to an already solid class that has two in-state prospects in Airashay Rogers, a four-star point guard from Renton, Wash., and Heather Corral, a three-star off guard from Vancouver, Wash., makes McGuff's first class one to be reckon with on the left coast.

-- Brandon Clay

Sykes down to four

[+] EnlargeBrittney Sykes
Glenn Nelson/ESPN.comAfter re-opening her recruitment, No. 30 Brittney Sykes of Newark, N.J., is down to four finalists.

This week, Brittney Sykes out of Newark, N.J., announced that she is down to four finalists. Sykes, the No. 30 ranked player in the ESPN HoopGurlz top 100, committed to Penn State earlier this fall but later de-committed in an attempt to make sure she made the right decision. She will now decide between Georgetown, Notre Dame, Penn State and Syracuse. The most interesting thing about Sykes' list of finalists is how she would fit in with potential teammates at her perspective schools. At Georgetown, she would join current commits Katie McCormick and Logan Battle on the perimeter. The length of Sykes and Battle, paired with the toughness of McCormick, would give Georgetown's press an edge for years to come. At Notre Dame, Sykes would be paired with Jewell Loyd, Michaela Mabrey and Hannah Huffman. That foursome would potentially give Notre Dame the most offensively talented class in the country. When Sykes made her verbal commitment to Penn State, she helped the Nittany Lions catapult into the top-10 classes in the country. That would still be the case if she winds up in State College, Pa. At Syracuse, Sykes would join a class loaded with athleticism. We would expect coach Quentin Hillsman to pair her with Cornelia Fondren in the backcourt, and the pair would make for one explosive backcourt as they move to the ACC.

-- Keil Moore

Kentucky starts with a point

Janee Thompson of Chicago, Ill., made a splash this club season with her play in multiple events, most notably the Midwest Showdown in Cincinnati over Memorial Day weekend. She showed the skill to go toe-to-toe with some of the nation's best guards, including a stellar performance against DFW Elite in the semifinals. The 5-7 point guard will take her speed and skill to Lexington, Ky., and play for the Wildcats next fall. The first commit in Kentucky's class of 2012, Thompson is the No. 35 prospect nationally and should provide coach Matthew Mitchell with an option as a consistent threat as a playmaker.

-- Brandon Clay

Vanderbilt's 2012 recruiting success

This week Vanderbilt added a sixth player to its 2012 recruiting class with Raytea Long from Dayton, Ohio. The addition of Long to Vanderbilt's class highlights an aspect of recruiting that is often overlooked. How a program addresses its needs is one of the key barometers we use when judging a recruiting class. Sometimes addressing areas of need on a roster is as beneficial as landing an elite recruit. Coach Melanie Balcomb and her staff managed to pick up quality athletes in the backcourt and add to their frontcourt with depth across the front line. Morgan Batey from Atlanta, Ga., and Jasmine Jenkins of Gainesville, Ga., are two quality athletes that will provide an impact on both sides of the ball throughout their careers. Adding Long to a frontcourt that includes three commits already -- Heather Bowe from Eau Claire, Wis., Kristen Gaffney of Cary, N.C., and Kendall Shaw of Mont Belvieu, Texas -- gives Vanderbilt both size and versatility across its frontline. For a Vanderbilt program that only returns nine scholarship players next fall, the class of 2012 addresses all of its needs.

-- Keil Moore

Recruiting recap

Lloyd to Virginia Tech: When No. 81 Alexis Lloyd of Chicago, Ill., chose Virginia Tech, it sent a warning shot to the rest of the ACC. In just six months, new coach Dennis Wolff has made his presence felt on the recruiting trail, picking up verbals from two four-star prospects, neither of whom are in the Hokies' natural recruiting region. Adding Lloyd, a natural scoring point guard, to go with Lauren Evans, a versatile perimeter option from Chandler, Ariz., gives the Hokies a solid start to Wolff's first recruiting class.

Harmon to Western Illinois: Three-star prospect Paige Harmon from Oswego, Ill., might have missed the majority of the club season with a foot injury, but not before she left an impression on both our staff and the Western Illinois staff during the spring. Harmon might not look the part of a scoring forward, but when the 5-10 forward crosses the line, she transforms into a willing playmaker. Her frame, coupled with her nimble feet, make her a tough matchup for opposing forwards.

McDonald to Georgia Tech: Breanna McDonald of Lithonia, Ga., has been a familiar face on the club scene since the summer before her ninth-grade school year. Last weekend, the No. 42 prospect nationally ended her recruiting in the same city where she started it, choosing to stay home and play for the Yellow Jackets. For coach MaChelle Joseph, McDonald's commitment marks the second straight fall that a top-50 national recruit from the metro Atlanta area has chosen to stay home and play for the emerging ACC power. Adding McDonald to a class highlighted by four-star No. 23 Aaliyah Whiteside of Memphis, Tenn., makes Tech a definite contender for another ranked class.

Revels to William & Mary: Jamie Revels of Aurora, Colo. has chosen to play her college basketball in Virginia. Our staff saw the two-star prospect last December at the Tournament of Champions. On a solid Regis Jesuit team, the 6-1 forward did everything needed of her to get the job done. She puts us in the mind of Auburn senior Parrisha Simmons with her willingness to mix it up from the small forward position.

-- Brandon Clay

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Brandon Clay is a contributor and national recruiting analyst for ESPN HoopGurlz. He is also the publisher of the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report and the owner of Peach State Basketball, Inc. Clay has been involved in the community since 2001 as a recruiting analyst, event operator and trainer. He can be reached at bclay@peachstatehoops.com or you can follow him on Twitter @peachstatehoops.

Keil Moore is a contributor and national recruiting analyst for ESPN HoopGurlz. He is also the Director of Scouting for the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report - a division of Peach State Basketball, Inc. Moore has been involved in the community since 2007 as a recruiting analyst and trainer. He can be reached at kmoore@peachstatehoops.com or you can follow him on Twitter @keilmoore.

Keil Moore | email

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