Last year she lost her mentor and coach. Then after seeming a Yankee Doodle Dandy at USA Basketball trials, she inexplicably was left off three possible national teams.
All Moriah Jefferson did was ride the death of Marques Jackson and her USA snub to a surprising victory in a Southern California tournament featuring most of the country's big wigs, three more championship trophies in July and a berth in the Nike Nationals title game. Then she helped DFW T-Jack Elite upstage host Boo Williams in its own tournament and win the first major event of the current club season.
Message: It's best not to feed Jefferson, the 5-foot-7 guard from Glenn Heights, Texas, any bulletin-board fodder.
Ranked No. 2 in the 2012 class by ESPN HoopGurlz, Jefferson may be the hungriest competitor on the high-school level since, well, Maya Moore. Connecticut may have lost Moore and her three Wade Trophies to the WNBA, but the Huskies picked up a fire-in-the-belly replacement with the commitment of Jefferson on Thursday afternoon.
The pledge sets up the extraordinary 1-2 recruiting coup for coach Geno Auriemma, who received No. 1 Breanna Stewart's verbal in February.
If there ever was a class in which to swing such a feat, it would be this one. Stewart, the 6-3 forward from North Syracuse, N.Y., has been considered the best combination of freakish length and athleticism, plus versatile skill set, since Moore. And Jefferson is the highest-ranked point guard ever by ESPN HoopGurlz, one so talented and viciously competitive, there was some talk during discussions for next week's re-ranking of the 2012 prospects of her maybe being the top prospect.
As it stands, Stewart and Jefferson may be the best 1-2 rankings pairing in many years, a duo considered by ESPN HoopGurlz as heads and shoulders above the rest of the class. And Connecticut fills arguably the two key positions on the floor with two of the best to come around at those spots in a while.
Jefferson will be one of the most entertaining, dynamic talents to enter the college ranks in a while, too. Her mesmerizing, machine-gun-fast dribble moves constantly set off her own team and any crowd that witnesses her unique show. She rarely is denied on dribble penetration and, although fairly slight in build, is willing to take punishment in exchange for a couple points from the free-throw line. At a position that commands the highest motor, hers runs the highest. Jefferson is as much a whirlwind on defense as she is at the offensive end, her energy often creating a full-court feeding frenzy for her DFW team.
For much for her club and high-school career, no one ever accused Moore of being a pure perimeter shooter. She turned herself into one. In that regard, Jefferson is ahead at this stage, though she exhibits similar elite-level focus and confidence as Moore once did, making her a fearsome sight with the ball in her hands and a game on the line.
Jefferson may not have the command and court presence of a classic point guard, but she has an outgoing, alpha personality and is tremendously respected and eminently likeable. What she does well will make her an ideal backcourt pairing for two years with Bria Hartley, who certainly is familiar with her breakneck pace. Toss in one of the smoothest, balanced bigs to come along in years, plus the No. 1 prospect in 2011, lights-out shooter Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, and the Huskies have the makings of yet-another juggernaut.
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Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A graduate of Seattle University and Columbia University, he formerly coached girls' club basketball, was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of an online sports network, authored a basketball book for kids, has had his photography displayed at the Smithsonian Institute, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.