Another Fab Five?

North Carolina lands four of the top 20 players in the 2013 class -- and it's not done

Updated: May 6, 2012, 3:08 PM ET
By Chris Hansen | HoopGurlz

The "Fab Five" -- Michigan's 1991 men's basketball recruiting class -- is considered by many the greatest class ever recruited. Two decades later, a trio of high school players is plotting to take the women's game by similar storm.

On Saturday, three of the top 20 players in the 2013 class -- No. 3 Diamond DeShields, No. 15 Stephanie Mavunga and No. 18 Jessica Washington -- dialed North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell and dropped a bombshell on the coach who just finished her 26th year at the helm of the Tar Heels.

[+] EnlargeDiamond DeShields
Glenn Nelson/ESPN.comThe addition of Diamond DeShields to prospects that North Carolina have already amassed put the Tar Heels in national title contention.

DeShields, a 6-foot-2 wing from Norcross, Ga., called Mavunga, a 6-2 forward from Brownsburg, Ind., to put the plan, which was two weeks in the making, into action. The two then used three-way calling to loop in Washington, a 5-foot-8 point guard from Tulsa, Okla.

"I was shivering," Mavunga said. "I didn't know what I wanted to say."

Phase I of the trio's Future Five plan was under way. Washington then used three-way calling on her line to reach Hatchell and, one at a time, Mavunga, then DeShields and then Washington each announced their commitments.

"Great players want to play with other great players," said DeShields, who is the daughter of former Major League Baseball infielder Delino DeShields.

Following the Boo Williams Nike Invitational in Hampton, Va., in late April, DeShields -- who plays for the A.O.T. Lady Rebels and was also considering Connecticut, Tennessee, Maryland and Duke -- and Washington -- who plays for Jenks (Okla.) and the Oklahoma And-1 -- together made the trip to UNC's campus. It was there in Chapel Hill that Washington was offered in person by Hatchell (DeShields had already received hers), realizing a childhood dream.

"I just knew it was the right school," Washington said of North Carolina. "Everything just fell into place."

But both DeShields and Mavunga had more work to do to bring Phase II of their master plan to fruition. DeShields' fellow Peach State star -- 6-foot guard Allisha Gray of Sandersville, Ga., also committed on Saturday. The sharpshooter is the No. 8 prospect in the 2013 class. Mavunga plans to lean on her close friend Mercedes Russell, a 6-5 post from Springfield, Ore., who is the top-ranked player in the class.

Two weeks ago, a series of text messages and direct messages via Twitter linked these somewhat unlikely conspirators  who have never played on the same team, even at the national level -- into friendships rooted in basketball.

"I (messaged) Diamond on Twitter and we just kept talking about [where we wanted to commit]," Mavunga said. "We were up until 2 in the morning that night. We said 'bye' about three times that night and kept talking about it."

[+] EnlargeJessica Washington
Glenn Nelson/ESPN.comThe commitment of No. 18 Jessica Washington of Tulsa, Okla., gives North Carolina a classic point guard to put with its growing collection of elite wings and forwards.

DeShields triggered the action on Saturday, calling the other two and letting them know that she was going to make her commitment that day.

"I feel like once you get that feeling, you should do it," DeShields said. "I've had this feeling about other schools but never for this long. I just said, 'Diamond, stop second-guessing yourself.'"

With these commitments, the Tar Heels - who went 20-11 in 2011-12 and missed the NCAA Tournament -- are clearly on the road back to becoming a national title contender. Time will tell if these signings lead to success similar to what North Carolina enjoyed during the Erlana Larkins and Ivory Latta years, but with the elite players in the trenches fighting for the Tar Heels before they even step on campus, it seems likely that, at minimum, North Carolina and its Future Five will be dancing soon.

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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. He is a member of the McDonald's All-American team selection committee. Hansen can be reached at chris.hansen@espn.com.