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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Catching up on some recruiting thoughts

Yesterday, just as I was about to put together an entry talking about Brianna Turner, Kendall Cooper, Jannah Tucker and some other tidbits I have gotten in my time in central Florida my phone rang and it was Curtis Ekmark returning my call. With most of my focus on putting together a story and blog on Courtney Ekmark's commitment, I have been a little delayed in talking about some potential recruits.

I'll start with Turner, who may be the best player in the Class of 2014 and she is the only member of her class to survive the U-17 team trials.

Turner, a 6-3 forward from Pearland, Tex., made an unofficial visit to UConn in the middle of March so of course I asked her about how the trip came about and her impressions of UConn.

"I went to New York for spring break and took a train to Connecticut," Turner said. "We took a train to Hartford and then we drove to where UConn is. I toured the campus and it is nice. I got to meet the players and coaches. They were really nice and I liked what they had (to say)."

Unlike Courtney Ekmark, another top Class of 2014 recruit who committed to UConn earlier this week, Turner is planning to take her time.

"I want to take as many visits as I can," Turner said. "Probably next year when I am a junior, I'll narrow it down to 10 schools."

Turner said she "didn't have a preference" in terms of where her ultimate school of choice is located and when I asked her what she would be looking for in selecting a college, Turner said "I want a coach to take me out of my comfort zone and give me something I have never had before."

Now switching gears from the U-17s to the U-18s, I spoke with Kendall Cooper and Jannah Tucker, the only two members of the U-18 squad yet to pick a college.

In her USA Basketball bio Cooper lists UCLA, Duke, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisville, Kentucky and Arizona State as her top schools but added "is still open and considering other schools as well."

Cooper, a 6-3 post from Carson, Calif., said something rather interesting to me when I asked her about having more teams from the East on her list than those in Pac-12 territory.

"I want to go more East Coast because it is more rough and tough basketball, the East Coast thing is what I want," Cooper said.

Of course my next question concerned whether UConn has expressed interest and Cooper said they have.

Let's be honest, there are varying levels of interest in the recruiting process. I have never heard her name associated with UConn and have no information that the UConn staff has any plans to see her play or even invite her to campus. However, I will say that I have been extremely impressed with Cooper. Obviously the UConn coaches know a heck a lot more about recruiting than I profess to but the prospects of a talent like Cooper expressing a desire to play on the East Coast and UConn's list of 2013 recruiting targets rather small, I think they'd be crazy not to take a run at Cooper.

I stayed away from talking recruiting when I spoke to Linnae Harper and Erica McCall, a pair of 2013 stars high on UConn's recruiting wish list since I addressed it with them when I spoke to them during the U-17 team trials. However, I was having a hard time hearing Tucker when I was on the phone with her last week so I revisted the recruiting topic with her.

Tucker said that she's heard from them but wouldn't commit to saying that she was planning to visit UConn. She did say that she wanted to make a list of colleges she wants to visit by late June or early July so she could set up visits.

The sense I am getting is that Tucker seems to be drawing the least amount of interest from UConn among the four Class of 2013 players on the Huskies radar (Harper, McCall and Saniya Chong are the others). I'm just thinking out liud her but I'd have to think it is more likely a case of them figuring they won't pull the Randallstown, Md. prospect out of ACC country. In my opinion she looks like a typical UConn kid, athletic, versatile, team orientated, articulate and very likeable.

Chong is the only one of the four not here in Orlando/Kissimmee but I did ask USA Basketball Women's National Team Director Carol Callan about Chong's performance at the U-18 trials when I spoke with her yesterday.

"Saniya I think clearly she knows how to get up and down the floor and knows how to score," Callan said. "When you throw her into this setting you are looking at somebody who is also going to have to distribute in the half court offense and those kinds of things. I think she is clearly going to be a talented player. Clearly she is going to do great things from the scoring stand point. When you look at body  thickness, she is going to develop as she gets older and she was a neat kid to have around because she was very eager and very active on the floor. Her possibilities and where do you play her? Is she a 2 or is she a 1 because she can clearly score."

Finally, I asked U-17 head coach Jill Rankin Schneider about what impresses her about McCall and Harper.

"I just think there is nobody who works harder than Erica McCall, she has tremendous work habits and
athleticism and to me she is so versatile. She can go inside and outside, her perimeter game has improved
over last year maybe the 10-12 foot jump shot facing thebasket has really improved."

"Linnae Harper is one of the best rebounding guards I have ever seen and physically her stature is so
impressive. She is so strong on the boards that she is not that little presence at the point guard spot.
Last year she did a great job in that role for us and I have already seen her emerge in this role this
year.

"Linnae is a very positive kid and I love her. She has a grest outlook and wants to get better. She is all about improving herself and she has done everything we have asked her."

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2 Comments:

Blogger Cory Blair said...

Tucker is rumored to be a Tennessee lean, but you never know with recruiting. Supposed to be taking her 2nd unofficial there in June.

5:08 PM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

Tucker would be a nice player for Tennessee to land. She reminds me a little bit of Kelly Faris with her ability to positively impact a game whether she shoots or not. I don't have a real sense of where she is going to end up but Maryland would be crazy to let her slip away if they can help it.

12:34 AM 

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