Krista Gross, a 6-foot wing from Concorde, N.C., called Sylvia Hatchell this morning with good news -- the No. 23 prospect in the ESPN HoopGurlz Hundred made a commitment to North Carolina. Gross chose the Tar Heels over Connecticut, Florida and Stanford after visiting all four.
"I've known a few of the players for a while now," Gross said, "and the coaches I've known for a long time but ultimately it came down to location."
Gross has a familiarity with the program due to it's proximity to her home and her summer travel basketball allowed her to meet some of the current players. She met freshman She'la White while playing the summer circuit two years ago and roomed with the point guard at UNC's elite camp.
"For me when it came down to the players it felt like I was playing with my friends," Gross said, "rather than just some teammates."
Gross also had a strong connection with the coaches too. Hatchell had one unique attribute that made talking with her very easy.
"I think it's her accent," Gross said. "You just can't help but smile when she talks."
Gross is the fourth player ranked in the ESPN HoopGurlz Hundred to commit to the Tar Heels and the highest ranked of the group. She joins Waltia Rolle, a 6-6 post from Texas and ranked No. 28 in the class, Cierra Warren a 6-3 post from California who is ranked No. 31 and Nyree Williams, a 6-1 wing from Maryland who cracked the top 100 at No. 88.
The class is one of the best in the country in terms of talent but Gross really gives it a dynamic offensive weapon on the perimeter that the other highly touted recruits don't provide. She has the skill to play both the shooting guard and wing positions and scores well from the post to the three-point line.
"The biggest thing is how versatile she is and she's a competitor -- a winter," said Brandon Clay, director of her club team, Peach State Elite. "Down five with two minutes to go she's the one getting to her teammates in to it and she has the ability to make the play. A lot of players try to will their teammates but she makes it happen."
Gross comes from athletic genes. Her father, Elton Gross, played basketball professionally in Finland. He was inducted into the Guilford College Hall of Fame and despite not playing football collegiately signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks for a short stint in the NFL.
Gross gives a lot of credit to her development as a leader to her coaching staff at Peach State Elite, especially her team's head coach Toni Gore.
"With Coach Gore she just told me 'I've seen you play and I trust you. I'll coach you but I'll trust you to make the right decisions,'" Gross said. "Her telling me she trusts me made it easy for me to go out and play."
Discuss this on our Message Board
Chris Hansen covers girls' high school basketball nationally for ESPN.com and leads the panel that ranks and evaluates players for the network. He is a graduate of the University of Washington with a Communications degree. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.