These days, it's all about the letters
A flood of letters -- as in, national letters of intent -- will be coming and going this week starting Wednesday, when the early signing period for women's basketball begins.
Let's start with 26. Here's an A-to-Z guide to signing week.
A: A'ja Wilson, a 6-foot-5 wing from South Carolina, is the most sought-after player in the class. Ranked No. 1 in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100, she remains undeclared and is expected to wait until spring to sign. Wilson is a long, athletic lefty who has the skills to play all five positions. She's able to dribble the ball up the court and post up and finish around the basket. Did we mention she can dunk?
B: The Bruins have something special brewing in Westwood with the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation. We'll let the UCLA-bound names and numbers do the talking: Jordin Canada, a 5-foot-6 point guard, is the No. 6 prospect in the nation. Lajahna Drummer, a 6-2 forward, is No. 8. Recee' Caldwella, a 5-8 point guard, is No. 9. Kelli Hayes, a 6-1 wing, is ranked 26th. And Monique Billings, a 6-2 forward, is ranked 37th. Enough said?
C: There's a new conference on the block, and it hits the scene with a familiar big dog near the top of the recruiting rankings. Connecticut moves into the American Athletic Conference this year with a bright outlook for the future both near and far. With three of the top 31 prospects in the nation -- and considered one of the favorites for A'ja Wilson -- the reigning national champion features a recruiting class that ranks third in the nation: Gabby Williams, the No. 15 prospect in the class; Sadie Edwards, No. 18; and Courtney Ekmark, No. 31. Louisville, also a new member of the new conference, has a class ranked eighth in the nation. More on that later.
D: It's Duke. No doubt about it. For the second year in a row, the Blue Devils have scored the No. 2 class in the country. This class features four players ranked among the top 38 in the nation. Lynee' Belton, a 6-foot-2 mobile post player, is the highest-ranked player at No. 10. She averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds as a junior at Bullis School (Potomac, Md.). Sierra Calhoun, from Christ the King in New York, is No. 17; Azura Stevens, a 6-4 forward from North Carolina is No. 23; and Erin Mathias, a 6-3 forward from Pennsylvania, is No. 38.
E: Edwards, Aisha, that is. The 5-foot-8 point guard oozes athleticism and could give Miami and coach Katie Meier a big boost. The high-scoring gem is one of four players in Miami's class, which is ranked 20th in the nation. We're also giving a little something extra in the "E" category: Ashley Kelsick, who averaged 40.7 points per game to lead the nation in scoring last season, is headed to the Eagles of Boston College.
F: At Florida, Amanda Butler scored big with her 2014 class, which is ranked 11th in the nation. The Gators are hoping for size and interior production with Brooke Copeland, a 6-foot-2 post, and Haley Lorenzen, a 6-3 center. Also in the class is guard Isis Young and wing Dyandria Anderson.
G: The Golden Bears and coach Lindsay Gottlieb are set to welcome a truly dynamic duo. Cal followed up its first Final Four appearance by landing Mikayla Cowling (a 6-foot-1 wing and the No. 11 prospect in the nation) and Gabby Green (another 6-1 wing and the No. 13 prospect). Combine their explosive athleticism with their court intelligence and you've got a versatile backcourt threat.
H: Khaalia Hillsman is a 6-foot-5 intimidating presence from Chicago's Whitney Young who is set to join Texas A&M. Hillsman, ranked the 46th prospect, is a shot-blocking and rebounding force who maintains an intense and aggressive game at both ends of the court. Basketball is in her blood; she is the daughter of Benoit Benjamin, the third overall pick in the 1985 NBA draft who played in the league for 15 seasons.
I: We'll give you four: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Iowa State are all welcoming impact players in the 2014 class. Tyra Buss, a 5-foot-7 point guard who was the third-leading scorer in the nation as a junior, is heading to the Hoosiers. Illinois has a verbal from Chatrice White, the No. 27 prospect in the nation and one of the elite centers in the class. Iowa welcomes Chase Coley, a 6-3 agile insider and the No. 94 prospect. And not to be outdone, Iowa State brings in Emily Durr, a smart shooter and the No. 68 prospect.
J: Jatarie White, a 6-foot-4 post player and the No. 7 prospect in the nation, was a late addition to the South Carolina class. Put simply, White is the premier low-post finisher in the 2014 class. She boosts Dawn Staley's class from solid to superb.
K: Kentucky, coming off an Elite Eight appearance, should stay in the mix with this class. Alyssa Rice, a 6-foot-3 center, is the headliner of the class at No. 20. Matthew Mitchell also has verbal commitments from Alexis Jennings (No. 64) and Jaycee Coe, a 6-3 three-star forward.
L: The Longhorns of Texas have secured a class that ranks 10th in the nation. Explosive guard Ariel Atkins, the No. 4 prospect in the nation, heads the list. She is joined by Brooke McCarty, a 5-4 point guard and the No. 29 prospect; Diani Akigbogun, a 6-foot forward and the reigning Gatorade player of the year in Colorado; and Tasia Foman, a three-star point guard and Atkins' teammate at Duncanville (Texas).
M: Mitchell (as in Kelsey) and McGuff (as in Kevin) just might be a match made in heaven at Ohio State. Kelsey Mitchell is the elite floor general in the class and the No. 3 overall prospect in the nation. She is quick, strong and a special kind of scorer who is expected to make an immediate impact. The Buckeyes' class also features Kelsey's twin sister, Chelsea; Makayla Waterman (a 6-2 forward, No. 69); Alexa Hart (6-3 forward, No. 82); and Asia Doss (5-7 point guard).
N: Jaime Nared, the No. 5 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 for the 2014 class, is headed to Tennessee to join two old friends and fellow Oregonians Mercedes Russell and Jordan Reynolds. Nared, who averaged 23.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.7 steals per game last season as a junior, is the headliner of a class that also includes Alexa Middleton from Riverdale and Kortney Dunbar, two other Top 100 prospects.
O: We're expecting oohs and aahs when Gabrielle Ortiz, a fundamental floor general with a scorer's mentality, lands in Oklahoma. The No. 14 prospect in the 2014 class is a coach's mind in action, an on-court leader who is among the nation's elite point guards. The Sooners also have verbals from No. 83 Vionise Pierre-Louis and three-star guards LaNesia Williams and Gileysa Penzo.
P: Pittsburgh and coach Suzie McConnell-Serio get high marks for their 2014 class. Naje Gibson, a 6-foot guard out of Pittsburgh, is the No. 59 prospect in the nation who will bring length and athleticism to the perimeter. She'll also bring her high school teammate Yacine Diop, a 5-10 guard originally from Senegal and the No. 84 prospect in the nation. Stasha Carey, a 6-3 post player and the No. 90 overall prospect, and Aysia Bugg, a three-star guard, round out the class.
Q: There's a quintnet of potential stars heading Mississippi State's way. Vic Schaefer's five-player 2014 class features one of the most prolific scorers in the nation in Victoria Vivians, one of the top defenders in Morgan William and one of America's best-kept secrets in LaKaris Salter. Rounding out the talented class is the coach's own daughter, Blair Schaefer, and Kayla Nevitt , a three-star guard.
R: The rankings reveal the SEC as the big 2014 recruiting winner. The conference has the most slots in the top 20 with six teams, led by South Carolina at No. 4. The Gamecocks are followed by Tennessee at six, Florida at 11, Vanderbilt at 14, Kentucky at 17 and Mississippi State at 18. The ACC is second with five (Duke, Notre Dame, Virginia, Pittsburgh and Miami). The Pac-12 is third with three (UCLA, Stanford and Cal) and the Big Ten, Big 12 and the American are fourth with two apiece.
S: Stanford has three reigning Gatorade state players of the year heading its way. Not to mention stars in the making. Representing New Jersey is Taylor Rooks, the No. 19 prospect in the nation whose stock has soared late in her high school career. Brittany McPhee, a 5-11 wing and the No. 25 prospect, has won back-to-back Gatorade state player of the year awards in Washington. Wyoming's Kaylee Johnson, a 6-3 forward and the No. 30 prospect in the class, rounds out the class.
T: Brianna Turner, the No. 2 prospect in the 2014 class, has the Irish smiling. With a college-ready game on both ends of the floor -- as well as in transition -- the 6-foot-3 forward should make an immediate impact at Notre Dame. Muffet McGraw doesn't stop there. She's also bringing in Kathryn Westbeld, a 6-2 forward and the No. 21 prospect in the nation, as well as Mychal Johnson, a poised 5-8 point guard at No. 80.
U: USC's 2014 class falls just outside the top 20, but it deserves some ink. McKenzie Calvert, a 5-foot-6 point guard and the No. 16 prospect in the nation who originally gave a verbal to Baylor, leads the Trojans' class. Amy Okonkwo, a 6-2 post player, is ranked 93rd. And Chyanne Butler, a three-star point guard, rounds out the class.
V: Virginia hits its second recruiting jackpot in a row with a class that features three Top 100 prospects. The top-ranked player in the Cavaliers' class is in-state star Mikayla Venson, a 5-foot-6 point guard from Arlington and the nation's No. 33 prospect. Boyle also has verbals from two of New Jersey's biggest stars, Aliyah Huland El, an ultra-athletic 6-1 forward and the No. 45 prospect in the class, and Lauren Moses, a 6-1 forward ranked 98th.
W: Jeff Walz and Louisville took the momentum from a trip to the NCAA final onto the recruiting trail and landed a top-notch five-player class. Leading the way is Myisha Hines-Allen, the No. 34 prospect in the nation and a 6-foot-1 wing who can create mismatches on the offensive end. Also heading the Cards' way are: Sydney Brackemyre, a 6-foot wing ranked 36th; Mariya Moore, a 6-foot wing ranked 43rd, Arica Carter, a 5-8 guard ranked 78th; and Ariana Freeman, a 5-11 wing ranked 99th.
X: They're not quite carbon copies like a Xerox machine could produce, but there are three sets of twins who could leave opponents scratching their heads next season. Vanderbilt, which boasts the No. 14 class in the country, will be bringing in Canadian twins Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau, a 6-foot-3 forward, and Khaléann Caron-Goudreau, also a 6-3 forward. Auburn is set to welcome Jessica Jones, a 6-2 forward, and Jazmine Jones, a 6-foot wing. And Ohio State doubles its fun with the aforementioned Kelsey Mitchell, a 5-8 point guard, and Chelsea Mitchell, a 5-11 off guard.
Y: Connie Yori continues to push the Nebraska program in the right direction. Coming off a Sweet 16 appearance, Nebraska has landed a 16th-ranked class. The headliner of the class is Kaylee Page, a 6-foot-2 wing and the No. 42 prospect in the nation. The Huskers' class also includes Natalie Romeo (5-7 point guard at No. 55), Jasmine Cincore (three-star wing from Tennessee) and Darrien Washington (6-2 guard from California).
Z: Zaire O'Neil, a 6-foot-1 forward and the No. 39 prospect in the nation, is heading to Georgia Tech. It marks the second year in a row that MaChelle Joseph has landed a big-time recruit. A year ago, the No. 2 prospect in the nation, Kaela Davis, signed with the Jackets. This year's class also includes Erin Garner, a three-star post player, and Imani Tilford, a three-star point guard.