The April evaluation period is right around the corner. The future of the teams fighting to play in late March and into early April hang in the balance as the elite prospects in each class decide where to attend school. Here is a progress report on the top five prospects in the Class of 2013 and what they are thinking moving forward.
No. 1 Mercedes Russell (Springfield, Ore.)
Mercedes Russell of Springfield, Ore., made headlines late this winter thanks to the now-infamous 16-7 stall ball state championship game, but she also stirred up a storm in recruiting when the Oregonian quoted her as saying, "I am not trying to stay here. I don't like the rain, there's no cute boys here. I think bigger, highly recruited athletes go back east to get that better competition."
Russell's mother, Tammy Hill, said the conversation wasn't literal and that Russell was joking. "It's not like she is not considering West Coast schools," Hill said.
Russell has yet to make any final cuts in her recruitment but has made unofficial visits to Kentucky, Louisville, Oregon, Tennessee (twice) and Washington. She had planned to make a second visit to Louisville in February but did not make the trip. Russell had designs on visiting Duke and North Carolina during the first two weeks of the NCAA tournament, with games in Chapel Hill, N.C., March 18-20, and in Raleigh, N.C., March 25-27, but with Duke landing in the Fresno, Calif., regional and North Carolina not making the field, these two visits didn't work out logistically.
Russell will play with Team Concept at the FilaTournament of Champions in Santa Ana, Calif., April 20-22. According to Hill, she will try to squeeze in unofficial visits to UCLA and USC while in the area. After that she will focus on making the USA Basketball U17 national team and may very well cut back during the July viewing period if she makes the team.
-- Chris Hansen
No. 2 Kaela Davis (Buford, Ga.)
Typically at this point in the recruiting calendar, high school juniors are past the information-gathering stage of the recruiting process. The relationships with staffs have been built and it is starting to get easier to pick, at the very least, a handful of schools at which a prospect can see herself. After committing early to Tennessee and then later opening her recruitment up to reevaluate things, the process for Kaela Davis is still in its infancy. Davis is just starting to gather information and develop the relationships with coaching staffs that will allow her to make an educated decision on her college choice. Davis recently took unofficial visits to Georgia and Georgia Tech, spending full days on each campus getting a feel for what the schools had to offer. Davis plans to set up similar visits in the future to schools including -- but not limited to -- Duke, Kentucky, Texas A&M and UCLA.
-- Keil Moore
No. 3 Diamond DeShields (Norcross, Ga.)
DeShields has definitely put in her fair share of miles on the road gaining insight during the fact-gathering portion of the recruiting process. She has visited schools across the country, including all five that are on her short list, all the while keeping her potential plans well under wraps. For now, the 6-foot-2 wing lists (in alphabetical order) Connecticut, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina and Tennessee. DeShields will spend her summer playing alongside two A.O.T. club teammates committed to ACC schools on her list in Lexie Brown (Maryland) and Te'a Cooper (North Carolina), who will surely try to help their future programs land the blue-chip recruit.
-- Brandon Clay
No. 4 Taya Reimer (Fishers, Ind.)
Reimer did much of her traveling last year, visiting multiple schools more than eight hours away from her home just outside of Indianapolis. Those schools included Baylor, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Right now, the 6-foot-3 power forward is strongly considering Connecticut, Georgia, Oklahoma as well as Notre Dame, Duke and UCLA. As the Irish are the only school within a day's drive down and back from Reimer's home, she has been on campus several times this year, most recently paying her own way to watch the Irish take on California in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The only campuses that she hasn't visited at this point are UCLA and Duke. She is eyeing a possible trip to Westwood before USA Basketball 17-and-under trials in mid-May and will look to visit Duke at some point in the spring as well.
-- Brandon Clay
No. 5 Rebecca Greenwell (Owensboro, Kent.)
Like DeShields and Reimer, Greenwell has been very proactive in her recruiting process. So far she has been on campus at all of the schools on her list. With trips to Duke, Georgia, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Louisville, Tennessee and Vanderbilt under her belt, it is clear that Greenwell has a solid grasp on what is out there for her. With those trips knocked out, the 6-foot-1 sharpshooter now can focus on building relationships with coaching staffs and letting the process play out regarding her recruiting. The junior wing is back from an ACL injury that she suffered last September while playing on the USA Basketball 3-on-3 team and will be playing this spring with Tennessee Flight at the Boo Williams Invitational.
-- Keil Moore
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. He is a member of the McDonald's All-American team selection committee. Hansen can be reached at email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.