- Keil Moore, ESPNHS HoopGurlz
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When Texas coach Gail Goestenkors woke up this morning, she had a one-player 2012 recruiting class -- Empress Davenport of Duncanville, Texas, the No. 70 ranked player in the ESPNU HoopGurlz 100. Now Texas has an addition to its 2012 class that is sure to catapult the Longhorns into the recruiting-class rankings discussion as well as solidify the Longhorns' front line. No. 10 Imani Stafford of Los Angeles, Calif., is headed to Austin.
It's safe to say that the addition of Stafford would be welcomed by any team in the country. But for Texas, getting this key recruit just might mean a little more. Stafford's arrival in Austin makes her the second-highest rated player that Goestenkors has signed since her move from the ACC to the Big 12. Stafford is coming to Texas as a potential program changer.
With the additions of Stafford and Davenport in its class of 2012, Texas has put together a promising collection of talent for the upcoming seasons. Stafford has the potential to be a major piece in the middle, while Davenport is a versatile perimeter threat with the size and skill to play all three perimeter positions at times. Davenport will join Chassidy Fussell, who led Texas in scoring last year as a freshman, and Tiffany Moore on the wings and should help build a quality perimeter scoring attack.
In 2011 Goestenkors and her staff inked the No. 11 recruiting class in the country as they added to their frontcourt with forwards Nneka Enemkpali and South Carolina transfer Kayla Brewer and picked up their point guard of the future in Cassie Peoples. When you add the fact that Cokie Reed, the overall No. 5 player in the class of 2009, was forced to use a medical redshirt last season and will pair with Stafford in the post during Stafford's freshman season, it is clear that Texas is in a very good place as it continues to build.
Stafford's presence on the elite basketball circuit has been unique to say the least. She has tallied the kind of impressive list of accomplishments, including two selections to USA Basketball, that any high school prospect would dream of. A late bloomer of sorts, Stafford has missed opportunities to showcase her talents from time to time and in many ways has yet to pull it all together as a player. As a result, Stafford's game is judged as much off of upside and potential as it is her physical gifts and overall feel for the game.
Stafford's potential is now in the hands of Goestenkors and her staff. Speaking in terms of pure talent, Stafford has it all. At 6-foot-7 she is a post player with a solid feel for the game, the ability to play with her back to the basket or step out and shoot the ball consistently from the perimeter, and quality athleticism. The key for Stafford, Goestenkors, and Texas will be making sure she maximizes her potential and leaves the lasting imprint that she is capable of. In many ways Stafford's development and Texas' success over the next couple years will go hand-in-hand.
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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 email@example.com.