The emergence of the Syracuse women's basketball program as a factor on the national scene has been long overdue. Before coach Quentin Hillsman guided the team to a WNIT win in 2009, the program had never registered a postseason victory. Hillsman and his staff have been diligent on the recruiting trail in an effort to change that culture. Their work paid off again this week when Taylor Ford of New York, N.Y., a four-star prospect in the class of 2012, chose the Orange.
Although Ford is the Orange's third verbal pledge in the class, the 6-foot-1 forward is the first from the Northeast. Cornelia Fondren from Memphis, Tenn., and Pachiyaanna Roberts out of Powder Springs, Ga., both are from the Southeast. Showing the ability to recruit players from his own backyard as well as the Southeast bodes well for the program as Syracuse transitions into the ACC.
-- Brandon Clay
James Madison taps Florida
Coach Kenny Brooks has had plenty of success finding BCS-level talent (Dawn Evans, Tamera Young) and getting them to Harrisonburg, Va., to help win Colonial Athletic Association titles. This year, he's done it again by heading to the Sunshine State to pick up verbal commitments from Precious Hall and Destiny Jones. Hall and Jones bring the Dukes' class of 2012 count up to three, and it appears that they have room to take another player in the class. Hall is a 5-foot-9 guard who can score it on the wing. Her skill set and style will be a nice complement to Angela Mickens, a four-star point guard who pledged before the July evaluation period. A 6-foot power forward, Jones will give Brooks a versatile interior presence who can face up and run the floor at the four spot. Hall and Jones played together this past club season for Essence.
-- Brandon Clay
For many, the October evaluation period is a chance to switch focus from the current senior class to focus on underclassmen and get a head start on the next year's recruiting targets. In the women's game, the fall evaluation period provides a key opportunity to get quality evaluations of kids before they head into the high school season, where the evaluation setting is important, but at times difficult due to variations in the level of competition.
This weekend, Brooke McCarty of Houston took advantage of a stage that provided her with quality matchups. In doing so, she did a lot to solidify her stock as one of the better point guards in the class of 2014. At just 5-5, McCarty is the kind of player you can easily overlook in warm-ups. There isn't anything physically imposing about the point guard, but she doesn't let that hold her back. Instead, McCarty excelled in matchups against class of 2012 guard Empress Davenport and 2013 guard Tyler Scaife as she led her Clear Springs High School team to wins over both Davenport's Duncanville and Scaife's Little Rock Hall.
The significance of McCarty's weekend was twofold. First there was her performance against elite competition. Then there was her ability to show that despite her not having ideal size, she could still control a game on both sides of the ball, leaving a lasting imprint on the outcome of not one but two marquee matchups.
-- Keil Moore
Capers to Auburn: Nell Fortner and her staff picked up a verbal commitment from one of the country's best rebounders in 6-foot power forward Cabriana Capers. In a professional league draft, the three-star prospect would be viewed as a "value" selection because she fits a specific need. Her motor is always going and we've seen her get multiple offensive rebounds on the same possession. That energy is a necessity for an Auburn program looking to establish itself in the top third of the ever-competitive SEC.
Hudyn to Missouri: Michelle Hudyn is bringing her game from north of the border to the Midwest. The 6-2 forward has both the skill and the desire to make an impact on both ends of the floor. She showed her skill set at the Elite 32 Summer Jam in Augusta, Ga., leading to an offer from the Tigers. A three-star post player, Hudyn's ability to stretch defenses with her shooting will allow coach Robin Pingeton to use her in various ways, including some pick-and-pop sets with fellow incoming point guard Lianna Doty.
Moore to Illinois: Quality post play is at a premium on every level. Nia Moore has quickly blossomed into one of the most promising posts in the Midwest. She showed well with her Bolingbrook High team during a big matchup vs. rival Montini Catholic in January. At 6-3, the three-star post appears to just be scratching the surface of her potential and, after choosing in-state Illinois, won't have to travel but about 120 miles to try and reach it.
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Brandon Clay is a contributor and national recruiting analyst for ESPN HoopGurlz. He is also the publisher of the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report and the owner of Peach State Basketball, Inc. Clay has been involved in the community since 2001 as a recruiting analyst, event operator and trainer. He can be reached at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @peachstatehoops.
Keil Moore is a contributor and national recruiting analyst for ESPN HoopGurlz. He is also the Director of Scouting for the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report - a division of Peach State Basketball, Inc. Moore has been involved in the community since 2007 as a recruiting analyst and trainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @keilmoore.