Being the best at anything comes with its privileges. For Breanna Stewart, the top-ranked player in the 2012 class, that means choosing her own timeline when it comes to recruiting.
During her past two summers with USA, Stewart befriended other elite players walking the same recruiting path that is before her now. The top two players in the 2011 class, both USA teammates, have had starkly different approaches to their recruitment.
Nearly a year ago, Oct. 18, 2009, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the top-ranked senior in the country according to ESPN HoopGurlz, made her commitment to Connecticut. Elizabeth Williams, the second-rated senior, remains undecided and is taking all five of her official visits.
Stewart, from North Syracuse, N.Y., is determined to do what she feels is right, whether that means committing early or late. Her first objective was accomplished just this week when she released her top 10 schools of interest -- Connecticut, Duke, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn State, Syracuse, Tennessee, and Virginia.
"The perfect timeline for me was I wanted to get the top 10 out before the school season," Stewart said. "But now I want to see how these schools do this season."
The 6-foot-3 forward isn't in a rush but has been proactive in her recruitment, having already taken unofficial visits to UConn, Duke, Maryland, UNC, Penn State and Syracuse.
"If I feel like committing this spring, I will," Stewart said.
The budding star has really come into her own, calling the Boo Williams Invitational in April 2009 her "coming out party." The tournament gave her the exposure she had yet to receive on a national scale but was far from an expected result. Stewart knew she was talented but until she lined up with other top players to go toe-to-toe, she didn't know how good she was.
"It was exciting to see how I matched up with people," Stewart said.
From there, Stewart has been on the level with all opposition and most of the time bested it. She feels her confidence growing with each success but isn't quite emanating that top-player-in-the-country aura yet.
"I just want to get a swagger," Stewart added. "I think it's going to come as my confidence grows."
Her experiences overseas have had as much of an impact as that touted weekend in Norfolk, Va., more than 16 months ago. With the physical play she experienced in helping win gold at the FIBA U17 World Championships, Stewart knows where her growth must go if she wants to continue her role as an anchor for world-championship-caliber national teams.
"I did get knocked around a little," Stewart said of the competition in France, which was host of the FIBA World Championships this July.
The only uncertainty right now is figuring out what she may want to study in school. Currently Stewart has no guesses as to what she may want to pursue in her college curriculum, though she is confident that all the schools on her list are strong academic schools.
Follow us on Twitter, where you can ask questions and get instant updates.
Become a fan of the site on Facebook and get updates in your news stream.
Discuss this on our Message Board
Chris Hansen is the national director of prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz and covers girls' basketball and women's college basketball prospects nationally for ESPN.com. A graduate of the University of Washington with a communications degree, he has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a high school and club coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. Hansen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.