A week ago, it appeared that Penn State had elevated itself into a virtual lock for a top-five spot in our 2012 recruiting class rankings.
With a long-standing commitment from No. 34 Candice Agee from Victorville, Calif., in hand, the Nittany Lions picked up two post-July verbals from No. 27 Branndais Agee out of Detroit, Mich., and No. 30 Brittney Sykes from Newark, N.J. Coach Coquese Washington and her staff looked to close out a monster class with one more prospect. But both of the post-July verbals have re-opened their respective commitments. Both of them do still have the rising Big Ten program on their short lists.
At 6-feet-6, Candice Agee remains the anchor of the class, but for a team that finished its season with a round-of-32 NCAA tournament appearance last March, this is not the way the staff wanted to carry that momentum forward.
-- Brandon Clay
Turner's Midnight Madness
Midnight Madness with the 2011 national champion Texas A&M Aggies had a number of special guests, including the school's six elite commits from 2012. The most intriguing visitor, though, may have been Brianna Turner, the No. 2 prospect in the 2014 class.
The Aggies have laid to rest any doubts of whether winning a national title would lead to success in future recruiting classes. Blair and his staff have the No. 2 recruiting class for 2012 as they have worked hard to keep the state's elite talent home. It is safe to say that Turner, who played summer ball with four of the six A&M verbal commitments from 2012, was more familiar with the prospects two classes ahead of her than a typical freshman would normally be.
-- Keil Moore
Reimer a frequent flier
The anatomy of an elite prospect is as complex as the balance of hard work and natural talent. The special players, however, match their unique physical talents with an equally special work ethic. It's this combination that makes a few players in every class a target for almost every school in the country. For these prospects, the recruiting process becomes an arduous task to navigate.
Taya Reimer from Fishers, Ind., is a great example. The No. 4 prospect in the class of 2013 has been on the road at various events or unofficial visits almost every weekend for the past five months. Her summer was packed, with a trip in June to Mexico with the USA Basketball U16 team and a July trip where she traveled the country to exposure events. The 6-foot-3 forward also played on the USA U18 3x3 team that traveled to Italy in September.
After her return to the States, Reimer took unofficial trips to Georgia, Kansas and Connecticut. She closes out the tour this weekend by visiting Notre Dame. She also played in Chicago during the fall evaluation weekend in October. All in all, she has spent two weekends at home since school started. Being on the road all fall is not for everyone, but it certainly helps prospects such as Reimer make informed decisions when it's time.
-- Keil Moore
Brooks to Mississippi State: Dominique Brooks, the No. 93 prospect in 2012, gives Mississippi State a legitimate post presence in what should be a five- or six-player class for coach Sharon Fanning-Otis' staff. She bypassed options closer to her Lansing, Ill., residence to join a Bulldogs program that has produced two WNBA first-round selections in the past four seasons. Brooks' length and activity make her a candidate for quality playing time early in college. She joins sharp-shooter Jessy Ward, a three-star guard, as early commits to the Starkville-based program in the class of 2012.
Byrd to Air Force: Some players need the club season to shine. Missy Byrd definitely benefited from her time with the Georgia Hoopstars. Just last high school season, the 5-11 forward played limited minutes on a loaded Wesleyan School team that might appear in our pre-season FAB 50 rankings. This week, she verbally committed to Air Force after turning down offers from Kennesaw and Stetson. Her improvement was marked with each evaluation that our staff had throughout the summer.
Evans to Virginia Tech: For first-year coach Dennis Wolff, finding players who will buy into his defensive philosophy is crucial. Wolff has found a player who can do just that in Lauren Evans. The 5-10 wing from Chandler, Ariz., does a little of everything on both ends of the floor. Our staff has even watched the four-star 2012 prospect play some point guard for her Chandler High and Cal Storm Taurasi club team.
Nahodil to Seton Hall: As a former All-American post player, Seton Hall coach Anne Donovan understands the necessity of quality post play. Tara Nahodil, from Sacramento, Pa., is a 6-5 post and one of the bigger post prospects in the class of 2013. Getting an early commitment from the three-star center ensures Donovan and her staff a future anchor in the lane as they continue their quest to ascend to the top of the Big East.
Person to Rutgers: Precious Person had a solid summer on an A.O.T. club team that was one of the best on the circuit. For her efforts, the four-star forward was rewarded with offers from multiple BCS institutions. At 6-2, Person has the length to play on the interior, but the skill to do damage facing the basket. After choosing the Scarlet Knights, C. Vivian Stringer will have the pleasure of figuring out just how she wants to utilize Person's talent.
Powell to Memphis: Coach Melissa McFerrin and her staff continue to make waves in Conference USA. On the same week the Tigers were selected as the league's preseason No. 1 team, they received a verbal pledge from Courtney Powell. A 6-1 power forward from Youngstown, Ohio, Powell has the skill and activity level to help keep Memphis in the discussion for top billing year in and year out.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @keilmoore.