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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Banks opening some eyes; a little recruiting update

Watching the final hour of Friday's UConn practice at Gampel Pavilion, I saw pretty much what I thought I would see. Bria Hartley, Tiffany Hayes and Stefanie Dolson were making plays all over the place as would be expected from three players expected to be the cornerstone players on the 2011-12 squad. Kelly Faris, while struggling to make shots, did a little bit of everything else. Highly-touted freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was hitting 3-pointer after 3-pointer while classmate Kiah Stokes showed that she will add some size and athleticism in the post. But the real revelation was the third freshman Brianna Banks.

Watching her hit 3-pointers with regularity, slashing to the basket and playing with such ease and style made me think I was watching Tiffany Hayes play as a freshman. I am not alone in that opinion. Hayes also sees the similarity between herself and Banks.

"Definitely, I saw it from the first day in pickup," Hayes said. "She is a lefty, she shoots, she drives, she is quick so I see some of the same things. I definitely want to try to help her to develop more quickly than I did. She is definitely going to have a big impact, a great impact on this team."

While UConn's freshman class looks like an impressive group and the next recruiting class already features impressive prospects Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck.

With commitments from Stewart, Jefferson and Tuck, the UConn coaching staff spent much of the recently-completed open recruiting season identifying prospects in the Class of 2013.

UConn has already been very involved in Diamond DeShields and Taya Reimer. Now some other names of possible recruiting targets are starting to emerge including Stephanie Mavunga and Jannah Tucker, who were teammates of Reimer's on the U.S. Under-16 national team.

Mavunga, a 6-foot-3 forward out of Indianapolis, Ind., averaged 10.6 points and 6.4 rebounds while leading the U.S. squad with a 59.5 field-goal percentage. Perhaps the most impressive part of the numbers she put up was that she did in while averaging just 13.2 minutes per game.

As a sophomore at Brownsburg High, Mavunga had a game with 30 points, 22 rebounds and 11 blocks against Plainfield in December and she averaged 18.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2 steals and 4.3 blocks.

Tucker, a 6-foot guard from Randallstown, Md., averaged 26.2 points, 12 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 8 steals as a sophomore at New Town High School and had a school-record 39 points in a game against Southside Academy.

Tucker started all five games in the 2011 FIBA Americas U-16 Championship. She averaged 9.4 points, was second on the team in rebounding pulling down 7.2 a game and was second in assists and 3-pointers made, third in steals and blocked shots. Yes, those are UConn recruit type of numbers if I have ever seen them.

Reimer, a 6-foot-3 forward from Fishers, Ind. who is a versatile enough offensive player to shoot 45 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore at Hamilton Southeastern High School. Reimer, the daughter of former NBA player Ben Davis, averaged 4.8 and 5 rebounds for the U-16 squad.

Another name drawing UConn's interest is California guard Karlie Samuelson.

Samuelson, the sister of Stanford freshman and former UConn recruiting target Bonnie Samuelson, had four games with at least five 3-pointers and 10 20-point games as a sophomore at Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif.

DeShields, the daughter of former Major League Baseball star Delino DeShields, was the youngest player on U.S. team which won the FIBA U-19 World Championships. The star at Norcross High is probably the most highly-touted high school player out of Georgia since Maya Moore.

DeShields, a 6-foot-1 forward, averaged 20.6 points and 6.2 rebounds as a sophomore at Norcross High playing for Angie Hembree, who also coached Moore for a couple of seasons at Collins Hill High School. DeShields averaged 4.7 points and 2.6 rebounds for the U.S. U-19 squad.

Bear in mind that it is very early in the recruiting process for the Class of 2013 since they haven't even started their junior year of high school so other prospects could catch the eyes of the UConn staff between now and the time letters of intent can be signed. But these are some of the rising high school juniors worth keeping an eye on.

As for the seniors to be, South Carolina forward Xylina McDaniel is the top uncommitted prospect on UConn's recruiting radar.

The 6-foot-1 McDaniel, who made an unofficial visit to UConn in February, is a talented wing who is the daughter of former NBA great Xavier McDaniel. McDaniel was named the Gatorade South Carolina Player of the Year after averaging 18.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.9 steals, 1.9 assists and 1.7 blocks per game while leading Spring Valley to an undefeated season and the South Carolina 4A title as a junior.

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