In our final look back at the early signing period, we have chosen six players who have the chance to fill the biggest voids for their teams during their freshman seasons. We derived the list by looking at the players who appear to have the most noticeable opportunity to shine early and often based on their future college style and roster depth as of Dec. 1.
No. 3 Alexis Jones
While Duke has been very good over the past years, an elite perimeter scoring threat has been notably absent. Jones will rectify that in the 2012-13 season. Her speed, quickness and ability to get to the rim in traffic are exceptional. With Jones complementing current sophomore facilitator Chelsea Gray on the perimeter and freshman Elizabeth Williams patrolling the lane, the Blue Devils will have as good of an inside-outside combination as anyone in the country for years to come.
No. 5 Bashaara Graves
Tennessee will lose current senior Glory Johnson to graduation and did not sign a true power forward in the 2010 or 2011 classes. While Johnson's loss certainly means a great deal in terms of leadership and experience, the void is even more apparent on the floor, where she regularly flirts with double-doubles. Graves will be asked to replace Johnson's production. The 6-2 post is one of the better rebounders in the class of 2012, and she has continued to develop her abilities as a low-post scorer. The Clarksville, Tenn., native is equipped with a college-ready frame and projects to make an impact early on in her career in orange.
No. 10 Imani Stafford
Texas graduates Ashley Gayle at the end the season, and will only have two players, Cokie Reed and Anne Marie Hartung, over 6-1 on next year's roster. Enter Stafford. The 6-7 center has had some injury issues, but -- assuming she is able to come in healthy -- her presence will immediately bolster a frontline that can use another body, especially one as talented as Stafford. Not only is the roster need there, but the pedigree for development is there as well. Her brother, JaVale McGee of the Washington Wizards, made tremendous strides during the time between his sophomore year at Nevada-Reno in 2008 and the summer of 2009, when he was invited to the USA Basketball Senior Men's National Team Training Camp.
No. 11 Nirra Fields
UCLA is in good shape in that All-Pac-12 forwards, Jasmine Dixon and Markel Walker, should be back on the floor together next season. While Walker is only a junior, Dixon is a senior and was slated to complete her eligibility this spring before a preseason Achilles injury forced her to redshirt. The Bruins appear set at the forward spot but are lacking a dominant scoring guard to provide crucial late-game baskets. That's exactly where Fields plugs into the operation. The Quebec native is living in California with Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown and attending powerhouse Mater Dei (Santa Ana) for her final high school season. Her skill set and shot-making ability are right there with Alexis Jones and Jewell Loyd as arguably the most prolific in the class. She'll bring a bit of flash to the Westwood campus, and, if all goes well, position the Bruins to make a run at Stanford for the coveted conference crown.
No. 36 Jonquel Jones
Jones, a four-star forward, will be one of the best offensive players on Clemson's roster the day she steps foot on campus. The native of Ellicott City, Md., will have to learn how to play on the college level on the fly as she is certain to be a part of the Tigers' rotation early in her career. At 6-3, she has improved as much as any player in the country over the past 18 months. At this point, she is a much better shot creator when facing the basket, and she's long and athletic enough to rebound and finish in traffic.
No. 68 Shilpa Tummala
For a Harvard team that has lost four games by a combined 26 points, it's feasible to think that Tummala's presence on the roster this year could have them at 6-0 today. The Crimson only graduate two players off this year's roster, but one is a guard, Brogan Berry, who is averaging more than 11 points per game. Tummala is from Phoenix, Ariz., and is one of the best scorers on the West Coast. The 5-11 wing surely will be counted on to provide the scoring load that Berry leaves behind. The Crimson also have McDonald's All-American Temi Fagbenle on the bench redshirting this season, and the thought of a top-100 perimeter threat in Tummala plus Fagbenle has to be tough for opposing Ivy League coaches to stomach.
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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.