The past few years, when the leaves started to turn, we've also turned the page from the senior class to the junior class in terms of recruiting. Not this year. Fifteen of the top 25 players in the ESPN HoopGurlz Hundred for 2009 still are uncommitted.
The impact of having a large number of top players still on the board for colleges changes the dynamic of how schools approach the evaluation period. Instead of being able to move on to evaluating the junior class, many schools will need to send coaches across the country to sit on the available seniors if they are still in the mix with these players.
This doesn't mean the focus of the fall period isn't still on the underclassmen. For the 2010 class, just six players ranked in the ESPN HoopGurlz Super Sixty have verbally committed after several years of commitments coming earlier and earlier.
The evaluation period, which extends Oct. 3-5, is unlike the spring and summer circuits, which are dominated by club team play. The fall period is more regional and primarily set for individual showcase style events because of the short duration. Timing also is an issue as kids are back in school and many prospects are scheduled to take the SAT on Saturday. For players struggling with eligibility, this is a very important date as the early signing period is just six weeks away and traveling cross country to play in a national event is simply not feasible.
Regional events still will draw a national collection of coaches. One West Coast program will be attending West Coast events, one of its coaches told ESPN HoopGurlz, as well as making a trips to Alabama to see the country's No. 2 ranked junior, Kaneisha Horn, and hoping to make a trip to Ohio to see the top-ranked player, Samarie Walker.
In the Southeast, players such as Horn and Tyrese Tanner, who is ranked No. 7 in the 2010 class, have grabbed headlines in a region deep with talent on a yearly basis. Its history of producing college players makes it one of the hottest recruiting grounds for colleges from any region.
ESPN HoopGurlz will be out in force with the team covering the Cal Storm Fall Invitational in Phoenix, Ariz., Blue Star Fall College Showcase - South II in Memphis, Tenn., USJN Battle of the Programs Oktoberfest in Waukegan, Ill., Super Showcase Elite Skills Training and Super South Showcase in Atlanta, Ga., Tournament of the Elites Fall Finish in Cordova, Tenn., adidas Girls Basketball Jamboree in Naperville, Ill., and the Blue Star Fall Showcase – South IV in Murfreesboro, Tenn. This will be the most fall coverage ever from ESPN HoopGurlz.
The Super Showcase Elite Skills Training event takes a page out of Nike's Skills Academy setup with head trainer Gannon Baker taking the players through more drill work; most of these events are geared towards scrimmaging in front of the college coaches.
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.