The early signing period for women’s college basketball starts Today through next Wednesday and commitments by the nation’s top high school players have been streaming in for the last week. All-Star Girls Report has been tracking these prospects throughout their careers and has come up with a list of the nation’s top 25 recruiting classes for 2022. Here they are:
5. Oregon State
11. South Carolina
12. Miami FL
14. Texas A&M
15. Georgia Tech
22. Florida State
23. Notre Dame
24. North Carolina
Traditional power UConn is at the top of the list and that comes as no big surprise. What stands out, however, is how well programs on the West Coast fared in recruiting.
Seven of the top 25 classes in the rankings are from the PAC 12, which is second only to the ACC’s eight classes. Perhaps more significantly, five of the top six rated classes are from the PAC 12.
“I think what you’re seeing is a shift in how girls are looking at college basketball,’’ ASGR Scouting Director Bret McCormick said. “In the past, guys were always more likely to go far away in order to get playing time. But girls tended to stay close to home. I think that’s changing because more girls are factoring in how much playing time they’ll get right off the bat. That’s why you’re seeing more West Coast schools pulling in players from around the country.’’
That’s very true in the case of second-ranked Stanford, which landed the nation’s No. 1 prospect (according to ASGR) in center Lauren Betts from Centennial, Colorado. Stanford stayed close to home and got a nice complement to Betts in point guard Talana Lepolo from Alameda, Calif.
Although officially listed at 6-foot-6, McCormick believes Betts is more like 6-7 and can be a dominant force on the next level.
“She’s very athletic and has great hands,’’ McCormick said. “Those things are important. But the thing that really sets her aside is that she’s a true presence in the post.’’
UCLA, which is ranked third overall, also landed its top prospect by looking to the East. The Bruins pulled third-rated prospect Kiki Rice from Bethesda Maryland. They also got Londynn Jones (ranked No. 21) from California.
“(UCLA has) a very crowded roster, but Rice should be able to contribute immediately,’’ McCormick said. “Jones might not get a lot of playing time early on. She has more of a scorer’s mentality. She has the athletic ability to play defense, but needs to accelerate in that area to crack into the rotation.’’
Oregon and Oregon State round out ASGR’s top five recruiting classes. Oregon coach Kelly Graves, who already has a reputation for recruiting beyond the West Coast, landed two top-20 prospects by looking East and getting two players from Ohio. Point guard Chance Gray comes from a very athletic family. Her father, Carlton, was a defensive back in the National Football League and her sister, Amber, played college basketball at Tennessee. Forward Grace Van Slooten began her high school career in her native Ottawa, Ohio, but transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida to play against better competition.
Oregon State got a commitment from Timea Gardiner, the nation’s No. 5 prospect. Although she has played center throughout high school, McCormick predicts Gardiner will find success as a forward on the college level.
“She has more than good size,’’ McCormick said. “She is very skilled. They already have good size, so I don’t see her ever having to become a 5. I think she can do more as a 3 or 4.’’
Arizona, coming off the program’s first-ever Final Four and National Championship Game, was able to use that success to lure two top-50 players from long distances. Coach Adia Barnes brought in seventh-rated Maya Nnaji from Minnesota and No. 21 Kailyn Gilbert from Florida.
Duke has the top-rated class in the ACC. That’s a credit to coach Kara Lawson, whose fist season was cut short when the Blue Devils were one of the first programs to stop playing due to COVID concerns.
“You can see what they did,’’ McCormick said. “They put their time into recruiting.’’
Duke’s class is highlighted by Ashlon Jackson, rated as the nation’s No. 8 individual prospect, can play the 1, 2 and 3 spots.
Texas landed two top-30 prospects with good size. The Longhorns got commitments from 6-2 and Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda and 6-3 Amina Muhammad.
Louisville has plenty of experience coming back, but the Cardinals got a commitment from power forward Nyla Harris, who has plenty of upside.
“She’s already very athletic and has good skills,’’ McCormick said. “But she can refine her game even more. I think her best basketball is ahead of her.’’
Georgia grabbed the last spot in the top 10 and that came largely due to a commitment from forward Janiah Barker, a 6-3 power forward, who ASGR had rated sixth in the nation.
“She can be sort of up and down,’’ McCormick said. “You never know for sure how it’s going to turn out. But she has the ability to be one of the best players in this class.’’