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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

UConn's recruiting focus on next year

Even before top recruiting targets Diamond DeShields (North Carolina), Taya Reimer (Notre Dame) and Karlie Samuelson (Stanford) opted to commit elsewhere, the UConn brain trust was not doing cartwheels around the options in the high school Class of 2013 opting to focus on the talent-rich Class of 2014 pretty early on in the process.

A recruiting source told me that UConn's attitude towards the current group of available Class of 2013 commits is along the line of  "we'll get who we get." In other words, UConn is impressed by the three players it is currently recruiting in that class but don't look for any new names to emerge between now and the early signing period in November.

UConn is still involved with guards Linnae Harper and Saniya Chong and post Erica McCall in the Class of 2013. Chong was recently quoted as saying that she plans on taking visits to her final four schools (UConn, Louisville, Maryland and Ohio State) in the fall before making her choice.

Harper and McCall are both members of the U.S. team which will be competing in the  FIBA U17 World Championship for Women and the process of visiting campuses and weighing their college options will have to wait until they return from Amsterdam next month. The U-17 team will meet in Colorado Springs on Aug. 1 for training camp before leaving for Italy for three international friendlies. The U17 World Championship will run from Aug. 17-26 which means they will be tied up with their USA Basketball commitments for almost the entire month of August.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma saw each of those players earlier this month. He was on hand to see Chong score 53 points and Harper rip down 18 rebounds. UConn seems to have a different approach in the Class of 2014. The Huskies already have a commitment from sweet-shooting Arizona guard Courtney Ekmark and are EXTREMELY high on Brianna Turner, the only member of the Class of 2014 on the U.S. U-17 team.

I was able to speak to Turner, a versatile 6-foot-3 forward from Pearland, Tex., at the U-17 training camp in Kissimmee, Fla. in May. She talked about taking a trip to the UConn campus.

"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."

Unlike Ekmark, who was one of the earliest commits UConn has ever received, Turner seems willing to take her time.

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

In terms of committing she said "probably after high school season my junior year."

The final question I asked her is what she was looking for in her college of choice.

"I want a coach to take me out of my comfort zone and give me something I have never had before," Turner said.

Auriemma saw Turner in person earlier this month and I've heard that he came away extremely impressed with her.

Apparently Turner is not the only Texas player to catch the eyes of the UConn coaches. Recruiting analyst Keil Moore tweeted earlier this week that Recee Caldwell, a 5-8 guard from San Antonio, is planning on visiting UConn in the fall. Another player to keep an eye on is Christ the King star Sierra Calhoun. Calhoun's dad has been quoted as saying he'd prefer his kids to go to the same school and his son Omar Calhoun will be a freshman on UConn men's team in the fall. LaJahna Drummer, a 6-2 forward from Inglewood, Calif.,  listed UConn among eight schools she considers to be favorites on her bio at the U-17 national team trials.

In a perfect world UConn would not have unbalanced classes but pretty much from the time they locked up a sensational Class of 2012 with commitments from consensus national player of the year Breanna Stewart, No. 2 rated Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck, they knew it would not be easy to convince players in the next recruiting cycle to come to Storrs because of a concern over available playing time. If the Huskies get only one or even two commitments in the Class of 2013, it wouldn't be the first time they went down this road. In the Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi classes UConn signed just one player and rising senior Kelly Faris was the only player signed in her recruiting class.

The good news is that while many of their competitors have been going hard after Class of 2013 prospects, UConn seems to have a jump on identifying and pursuing the top players in the Class of 2014.

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