The 10 highest previously unranked prospects in the newly released ESPN HoopGurlz Top 100 for 2011:
If this were a horse race -- and many fans follow prospect rankings as if they were -- the class of 2011 has reached the quarter pole and, entering the homestretch, Elizabeth Williams so far has proved a worthy front-runner. The 6-foot-3 post prospect from Virginia Beach, Va., was No. 1 in the original Terrific 25 released by ESPN HoopGurlz a year ago, and the top prospect in the Super 60 released after the summer evaluation period. She again holds the No. 1 spot in the first top-100 ranking for 2011.
With just one more top-100 re-ranking looming in August, Williams continues to hold the slimmest of leads over No. 2 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis of Anaheim, Calif., who was named national high school player of the year by ESPN HoopGurlz for the 2009-10 season.
After considerable contemplation, the ESPN HoopGurlz staff gave the nod to Williams' interior influence, including an increasingly polished offensive game, over Mosqueda-Lewis' nearly unprecedented shot-making ability, coupled with a flair for delivering in big moments.
ESPN HoopGurlz has expanded its ranking of the 2011 class after its six evaluators assessed talent, nationally and in person, during the fall evaluation period, the high school season, the recent spring evaluation period, and the six Nike Regional Skills Academies. The rankings are a consensus reached by the ESPN HoopGurlz staff, which discussed the relative standing of prospects during marathon video conferences last week.
Because the 2011 rankings were expanded from 60 prospects to 100, there are many players new to the list. The newcomers are led by Shakena Richardson, of Neptune, N.J., who debuts at No. 7. She and Ariel Massengale of Bolingbrook, Ill., ranked No. 6 overall, are the only point guards in the top 10.
No. 27 Sara Hammond, a versatile forward from Mt. Vernon, Ky.; No. 34 Karina Alofaituli, a tough, athletic wing from Newbury Park, Calif.; and No. 37 Nneka Enemkpali, a powerful forward from Pflugerville, Texas, also went from unranked to 2011's top 40.
Near the top of the rankings, Bria Smith, the lightning-quick guard out of Massapequa, N.Y., is the new No. 3. Cierra Burdick, who seems renewed at forward and with a new club team, Boo Williams, rose to No. 4. Krystal Forthan, the ultra-athletic forward who has had stops in Portland and New York, was restored to No. 5 after finding stability in Texas.
Among the top 25, the highest climbers were Isabelle Harrison of Nashville, Tenn., who rose 15 spots to No. 22; Erika Johnson of Seattle, who jumped 13 spots to No. 20; and Reshanda Gray of Los Angeles, who also hopped 13 spots to No. 25. Shot-blocker extraordinaire Temi Fagbenle of Blairstown, N.J., and London improved eight spots to No. 13 and Kacy Swain, a slick-shooting forward who has filled out and expanded her influence inside, jumped the same number of spots to No. 17.
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ESPN HoopGurlz Rankings Panel
Lisa Bodine is a national evaluator for ESPN HoopGurlz. A native of Queens, N.Y., she began her coaching career in 1993 with the N.Y. Gazelles, has coached with D.C.-based Team Unique, and in 2009 she was named DAC Co-Coach of the Year after leading Wakefield Country Day School in Flint Hill, Va., to its first-ever conference title. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
Kara (Harrison) Howe founded and coached in the Utah Sky club program, which sent several players, including her sister Michelle, now a junior at Stanford, to Division I schools. She played college basketball at Utah Valley State, was an all-state performer at Alta High School in Sandy, Utah, and coached high school in the Salt Lake area. Howe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Lewis is the national recruiting coordinator for ESPN HoopGurlz. Twice ranked as one of the top 25 assistant coaches in the game by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, he has more than 20 years of college coaching experience at Memphis State, Cincinnati, Arizona State, Western Kentucky and, most recently, Washington State. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A member of the Parade All-American selection committee, he formerly coached girls' club basketball, was the editor-in-chief of an online sports network, authored a basketball book for kids, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kelvin Powell is a national evaluator for ESPN HoopGurlz. A former coach and club-program director, he operates Roundball Journal, a leading prep scouting service, and is a contributing editor at SLAM Magazine, as well as a member of the McDonald's All-American and the Gatorade National and State Player of the Year selection committees. He can be reached at email@example.com.