How will Notre Dame, UConn, Oregon and Baylor look a year from now?
The present is all positive for UConn, Notre Dame, Oregon and Baylor, the teams headed to the Women's Final Four in Tampa, Florida, to compete for the 2019 national championship.
But how about their futures? Here's a glimpse at the recruiting pictures for the last teams standing.
We refuse to use the cliché about reloading, but you get the picture. Coach Muffet McGraw and the defending champions will lose stars Marina Mabrey, Brianna Turner, Arike Ogunbowale and Jessica Shepard (and potentially Jackie Young), but the Irish have help on the way in the form of two McDonald's All Americans in their 2019 class.
Samantha Brunelle, who won the 3-point shootout at the Powerade JamFest, has the kind of game and personality that Irish fans will fall hard for. The 6-foot-2 versatile forward from William Monroe High (Stanardsville, Virginia) has won gold medals with USA Basketball in both 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 tournaments. Brunelle was Virginia's Gatorade player of the year as a junior, when she averaged 30.0 points, 15.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 3.0 blocks and 2.2 steals. She missed a chunk of her senior season after having foot surgery in January, but Brunelle came back to put up 25 points and pull down 24 rebounds in her final high school game.
Anaya Peoples averaged 20.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists as a senior, and led Schlarman Academy (Danville, Illinois) to back-to-back state championships. The athletic 5-10 point guard also struck gold with USA Basketball over the summer at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Mexico City. Against the other top seniors at the McDonald's game last month, Peoples scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Notre Dame also has a verbal commitment from junior point guard Allison Campbell, who was Pennsylvania's Gatorade player of the year as a sophomore. She has led Bellwood-Antis High to back-to-back state titles.
The whispers in Storrs, Hartford and beyond said that coach Geno Auriemma had lost his recruiting touch after the legendary coach left the 2019 recruiting trail without a top-20 prospect for the first time since 2013. But a closer look screams that not much has changed with the Huskies, who will lose Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier at the end of the season.
Aubrey Griffin, the lone 2019 recruit heading to UConn, has a chance to make an immediate impact. The 6-1 wing from Ossining High (New York) was a McDonald's All American and broke a state record that belonged to none other than Breanna Stewart. She scored 77 points in two games at the New York federation championship as a senior to break Stewart's record of 64. Griffin is the daughter of Adrian Griffin, former NBA star and current assistant for the Toronto Raptors. Side note: Saniya Chong, also of Ossining, was the lone member of the 2013 class we mentioned earlier. She left Storrs with three national championships.
And that's not all. On Monday, UConn received a verbal commitment from No. 1 junior in the nation Paige Bueckers, who is a back-to-back Gatorade player of the year in Minnesota. The 5-11 point guard will be the heir apparent to Crystal Dangerfield. This past season as a junior, Bueckers averaged 24.4 points, 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 4.7 steals and led Hopkins High (Minnetonka, Minnesota) to a state title with a 32-0 record. She has been a standout for Hopkins, a national powerhouse, since she was in eighth grade. She has scored 2,288 points in her career. She also has a collection -- yes, collection -- of three gold medals with USA Basketball.
It was an international boon for coach Kelly Graves and the Ducks, who might or might not lose do-it-all Sabrina Ionescu to the WNBA draft.
Australia's Jazmin Shelley is considered one of the best guards in the world. As a 16-year-old, Shelley led Australia to the gold medal at the 2016 FIBA U17 Women's World Championship. She scored 23 points in a semifinal upset of the United States, which featured current UConn stars Christyn Williams and Olivia Nelson-Ododa. A crafty playmaker with a scorer's touch, Shelley has been in the Australian national system ever since.
Fellow Aussie Lucy Cochrane, a 6-5 post player, was also a member of the Australian national team that beat the U.S. in 2016. Her strength is shot-blocking and rebounding. Against the U.S., she had four blocks and nine rebounds.
Shifting continents, Graves landed a signature from Holly Winterburn, a mainstay on Great Britain's junior national teams. The 5-11 shooting guard, who can finish plays in traffic and extend defenses to the arc, was recruited by numerous Division I programs before choosing Oregon.
A year ago, 80 percent of the players in coach Kim Mulkey's No. 1 recruiting class were McDonald's All Americans. Make it 100 percent in 2019. Albeit 1-for-1.
Jordyn Oliver, a 5-10 athletic guard at Prosper High (Texas), is a superb shot-maker who averaged 19.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists as a senior.
Baylor will lose Kalani Brown and Chloe Jackson after the season, but the roster remains packed with talent thanks to Mulkey's annual success on the recruiting trail, which included 2016 No. 1 prospect Lauren Cox, who will be a senior next season.