The NCAA evaluation weekend is upon us, and elite prep players will be showing off their games in front of college coaches at events across the country this Friday-Sunday. As a result, most schools have opted not to use this weekend as a chance to get seniors on campus for official visits and instead use the time to get a jump on evaluating the top underclass prospects on their lists.
Tennessee, however, has bucked the system.
This year, the fall evaluation weekend represents a major recruiting weekend for the SEC school. Instead of evaluations, Tennessee will be all about on-campus visits. The list of players headed to Rocky Top this weekend includes all of their current class of 2012 commitments -- Bashaara Graves of Clarksville, Tenn., the No. 5-ranked player in the 2012 class by ESPN HoopGurlz; No. 20 Andraya Carter of Flowery Branch, Ga., and No. 39 Jasmine Jones of Madison, Ala. Joining them will be Rachel Hollivay of Columbus, Miss., the No. 8 player in the 2012 class who will be on her official visit; and Diamond DeShields of Norcross, Ga., the No. 3 player in the 2013 class who will be visiting unofficially.
Adding a quality post player like Hollivay would be a major haul for Tennessee. The Lady Vols' roster has taken some hits in the post over the past few months with the transfers of Alyssa Brewer and Faith Dupree in addition to center Kelley Cain opting to forgo her senior season. If they are able to land a top-10 player like Hollivay, a lot of problems are solved immediately.
In an effort to raise the stakes a bit, Pat Summit and her staff were able to lure DeShields to campus for an unofficial visit. DeShields, who was at Maryland last weekend, has been to Tennessee for unofficial visits in the past. The significance of this visit is more about the timing than the trip. The No. 3 player in the ESPNU HoopGurlz Super 60 has decided to forgo the fall evaluation weekend and take a trip to Knoxville. While Tennessee will get an opportunity to see her, every other school in the country will not.
Prince headed to LSU
Keeping things in the SEC, LSU has a special visitor headed to campus this weekend. Alexis Prince of Maitland, Fla., the No. 16 player in the 2012 class, will make an official visit. It was widely believed that Prince, a smooth-scoring wing, was considering UCLA when Nikki Caldwell was the head coach there, so it is no surprise that Prince has bought into Caldwell's pitch now that she is considerably closer to home. Prince, who also is considering Kentucky, LSU, Baylor, Oklahoma and Maryland, already has taken official visits to Kentucky and Oklahoma. She has visits to Maryland and Baylor on her schedule later this month. LSU already has a verbal commitment from Danielle Ballard of Memphis, Tenn., on the books. The addition of Prince to their 2012 recruiting class would put them in a great spot to be ranked in the top 20 of the ESPNU HoopGurlz 2012 recruiting class rankings.
Newton stays home for visits
In this day and age, the conventional route for seniors is to take their five allotted official visits and then choose a school by the early signing period. Je Zhe Newton, a 6-foot-4 post from Chandler, Ariz., is taking a different approach. The No. 66-ranked player is entertaining nine schools over 11 days. She started with a visit from Washington coach Kevin McGuff on Sept. 27 and finishes with Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer on Oct. 6. In between, she entertained Boston College, Colorado, Illinois, Louisville, Missouri, UNLV and Washington State. Newton plans to make her decision after the high school season ends.
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Brandon Clay is a contributor and national recruiting analyst for ESPN HoopGurlz. He is also the publisher of the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report and the owner of Peach State Basketball, Inc. Clay has been involved in the community since 2001 as a recruiting analyst, event operator and trainer. He can be reached at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @peachstatehoops.
Keil Moore is a contributor and national recruiting analyst for ESPN HoopGurlz. He is also the Director of Scouting for the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report - a division of Peach State Basketball, Inc. Moore has been involved in the community since 2007 as a recruiting analyst and trainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @keilmoore.