Top-ranked Megan Walker puts capper on another impressive UConn recruiting class
|Lexi Gordon is part of talented four-player class signed by UConn|
Megan Walker, considered by most recruiting insiders as the best player in the Class of 2017, announced that she was signing with UConn.
Walker, a pretty humble kid, actually made the announcement with a bit of flair as she got up walked around a table at Monacan High School and began popping balloons with the colors of her two other finalists - Notre Dame and Texas. That left only blue and white balloons remaining and with friends and onlookers shrieking with delight, she took off a jacket to reveal that she was wearing a UConn shirt.
I have to be honest, if you asked me after UConn returned from the Final Four, I would have been certain that Walker would be the latest No. 1 ranked recruit to sign with the Huskies. But in recent months Texas, aided by newly-hired assistant coach Tina Thompson, made a spirited run at getting a commitment from the highly-skilled Walker. Walker did form a close bond with fellow UConn signees Mikayla Coombs, Andra Espinoza-Hunter and Lexi Gordon but she strikes me as the type of kid who is probably pretty good friends with players who signed with Notre Dame and Texas.
As a junior at Monacan Walker had games with 50 points another one with 14 rebounds, one with 10 steals and the games with her two highest assist totals came in the postseason, She also had seven games with more than one 3-pointer. Walker wears the same number (32) that Maya Moore did in high school and has attributes similar to what Moore had coming out of high school. She handled the Maya Moore question with tremendous class on a live interview with ESPN.
It is also worthy of mention that Walker led all U.S. players in minutes played at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championships Here is a blog I did with her after an interview during the USA Basketball U18 trials in May.
Walker is far from the only talented prospect in the class.
ESPN has UConn signees Coombs, Gordon and Espinoza-Hunter ranked 14th, 29th and
37th respectively, the Blue Star Report has Coombs and Espinoza-Hunter as top 10 recruits while the
All-Star Girls Report ranks Coombs as the fourth-best prospect in the class. They will also be
joined on the court by transfers Azura Stevens and Batouly Camara who began their collegiate careers at Duke and Kentucky respectively.
Coombs averaged 13.3 points, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals as a junior at Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners, Georgia after missing all but one game during her sophomore season due to a torn ACL. Three of Wesleyan's five losses during the 2015-16 came to Holy Innocents Episcopal and the other two were during the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions.
Gordon had 65 3-pointers as a junior at L.D. Bell High in Hurst, Texas despite constant double and
triple teaming. She finished her junior season averaging 24.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
Espinoza-Hunter is the most familiar face of the trio. She began showing up at UConn games when she would accompany Saniya Chong during the 2012-season. Espinoza-Hunter, then only in the eighth grade, was the second-leading scorer on an Ossining (N.Y.) High School team which won the 2013 New York Class AA state title.
Espinoza-Hunter spent the freshman, sophomore and junior seasons at Blair Academy helping Blair to Mid-Atlantic Prep League and New Jersey state titles each season. She is back at Ossining for her
senior season. In the 2016 MAPL tournament Espinoza-Hunter averaged 31.5 points per game with eight 3-pointers in the two games as she would average 25 points per game.
Add in Stevens, who I would have ranked among the top five college players in the country had she remained at Duke, and Camara and it's pretty clear that opponents might want to get to UConn this season because next year's squad is going to be deep, talented and versatile.
Oh, it should also be noted that UConn is also very much in the mix with Christyn Williams and Charli Collier, two of the top prospects in the Class of 2018.
Look for reaction from Geno Auriemma on Saturday as we will have media access that day in preparation for the season opener.