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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Rival coach: UConn commit Dangerfield "a one-man press breaker"

Now that UConn has its first commitment in the Class of 2016 it is time to try to quantify what type of player the Huskies will be getting.

I watched a highlight tape of Crystal Dangerfield playing at Blackman High in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and she looked so much like Moriah Jefferson did when the current UConn point guard was lighting it up for the THESA Raiders it is eerie. But I wanted somebody with more basketball knowledge than me to give me a take on Dangerfield.

Well, Blackman High School lost just one game during Dangerfield's sophomore season and the defeat was at the hands of Incarnate Word Academy in St. Louis (whose best player is UConn Class of 2015 commit Napheesa Collier) so I spoke to IWA head coach Dan Rolfes tonight to get his impressions of Dangerfield since the teams split highly-competitive games a season ago.

"I remember her very well," Rolfes said. "Just like a super quick, super fast athletic point guard. In the game that we lost, we got down and we are a very athletic team but we could not press her. She is just a one-man press breaker."

Does he think she has similar potential as Jefferson did coming out of high school?

"No doubt about it. She has a great jumper, she has a jumper like a guy, a legit jumper. She can dribble penetrate and pull up in the paint."

Dangerfield's commitment gives UConn a head start on what could be a challenging recruiting year. The Huskies have a top-notch group of freshmen in Sadie Edwards, Courtney Ekmark, Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams. I've spoken to more than one women's basketball insider who believe the next batch of recruits (Collier, De;Janae Boykin and Katie Lou Samuelson) has the potential to rival one of UConn coach Geno Auriemma's most talented classes. Historically, it has been a challenge to secure commitments from elite players following a class like the one the Huskies have coming in next year so to get a top five national recruit like Dangerfield is a major bonus.

"He just gets great athletes with skill," Rolfes said. "You look at the balance they they've got. You have kind of a do it all in Napheesa Collier, you have a crazy fast athletic point guard, Katie Lou can shoot lights out and you size and you have another big post player in De'Janae."

As for Collier, Incarnate Word Academy starts practice on Nov. 3 and kick off the season in the Tour of Champions in Fort Smith, Arkansas from Dec. 11-13. Unfortunately there aren't any Blackman/Incarnate Word Academy games on the 2014-15 schedule. The first game for Blackman is Nov. 25 against fellow Tennessee school William Blount although Blackman coach Chad Hibdon said he is still searching for a mid-November game after one of the scheduled games was recently canceled.

Hibdon called UConn "a great fit" for Dangerfield.

"She is driven and determined for excellence in everything she does, Hibdon said. "UConn has high standards in academics and in the athletic arena and that firs will with her personality traits.

"Crystal is unbelievably talented and doesn't have to dominate the ball. She understands the team concept. She can shoot it and score and understands how to lead the team to success."

Blackman begins practice on Oct. 27.

I'm very curious to see what UConn's Class of 2016 is going to look like when all is said and done. The Huskies are involved with some elite prospects including Lauren Cox, considered by just about everybody to be the best player in the Class, Joyner Holmes, Natalie Chou, Jaelyn Brown, Tori McCoy and Sabrina Ionescu who could all be top 10 national recruits before the 2015 early signing period gets here. UConn is also very high on Jocelyn Willoughby, one of the first night visitors out of Newark Academy. I happened to be up at UConn this afternoon working on a football story and State College (Pa.) junior Kyla Irwin was up there with her family. I let her, her family and the UConn coaches do their thing without interruption but the whole group seemed to be having the time of their lives. Kelly Jekot is another high scoring Pennsylvania wing who has visited UConn. I also have seen reports that Michigan wing Kysre Gondrezick included UConn among her final seven schools.

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