Warm weather is usually one of the best recruiting advantages of schools in California, especially among kids accustomed to the sun and beaches. So when Justine Hartman, a native of Brea, Calif., and the No. 7 ranked prospect in the 2011 class according to ESPN HoopGurlz, verbally committed to Boston College and called it her "dream school" it hit like a snow storm in Southern California.
"I've always imagined myself going to school in a city like Boston," Hartman said. "And I love the weather. I like California but I also love the cold too. When I went there it was exactly what I imagined it being and it fit for me."
Hartman made an unofficial visit to BC in October after connecting with head coach Sylvia Crawley on the phone. The 33-degree difference in average temperature this time of year wasn't a deterrent for the top junior post prospect in the country.
"We were just listing all the reasons to go," Hartman said of a process she went through with her father, Matt Hartman, "and there weren't many reasons I didn't want to go so I just said let's do it. I'm ready to go."
Hartman points to the upward movement of the Eagles with a strong 2010 recruiting class, ranked No. 11 in the country by ESPN HoopGurlz, preceding her arrival as one reason she chose BC.
"I really loved Sylvia Crawley and all her staff," Hartman said. "I really connected with them."
The development in Hartman's game in the past two years led her to the USA Basketball U16 Team trials last summer where she was picked for the U16 National Team that won a gold medal in the FIBA Americas tournament.
For much of her progress on the basketball court, Hartman credits two people, Brea Olinda High School coach Jeff Sink and Cal Storm Team Taurasi coach George Quintero.
"It definitely rubbed off on me, Sink's craziness and George, his love for the game … they are both great motivators," Hartman said.
A recent decision to have surgery on Hartman's right knee will keep her out of action for some time. On Jan. 4, she had surgery to repair a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus. She began her post-surgery rehabilitation on Jan. 15.
"[The pain] just caught up," Hartman said of her lingering injury. "It was finally alright, I'm done."
The decision will cost her a chance to play in France with the USA U17 National Team this summer as she is targeting December for a full return to the court. In the long run it's good news for her future college team, as the injury is now repaired and the road to pain-free play is now being navigated.
Adding the 6-foot-2 Hartman to BC's recruiting haul suggests the 2010 signing of three top 100 players, including No. 12 overall Kristen Doherty, was not an aberration but a sign of things to come. The 2010 class included the sharp shooting Doherty, 6-3 forward Katie Zenevitch (No. 63), and a strong 5-8 combo guard in Tiffany Ruffin (92), as well as two other perimeter players.
Hartman complements the Eagles recruiting class well and after a 2010 class that was light on elite level posts, to get one of the top 2011 post players is a major addition. She gives BC one of the most skilled post-scorers in any class. She possesses a combination of size, strength, and great touch that should draw the attention of most defenses and open things but for her perimeter teammates.
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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.