Courtney Ekmark of Phoenix, Ariz., is one of the class of 2014's most prolific scorers. She showed that scoring prowess last September at the Elite Basketball Academy All-American Camp and then throughout the ensuing high school season, scoring 26 points against then No. 2 Riverdale Baptist at the Nike Tournament of Champions in December. In the process, the 5-foot-11 guard also led St. Mary's to the mythical national championship.
On Wednesday, Ekmark -- whose father, Curtis, played his college basketball at Marquette -- committed to Connecticut. This means that she will compete against her father's alma mater at least once per season in Big East conference play.
Ekmark cracked the ESPN HoopGurlz Terrific 25 last month, thanks to her ability to put the ball in the basket with remarkable regularity. The No. 13-ranked prospect becomes the first player in either the 2013 or 2014 class to pledge to play for Huskies coach Geno Auriemma after his staff reeled in the nation's No. 1 recruiting class in 2012.
A top-notch student in the classroom, Ekmark also considered Duke, Notre Dame and Stanford. On paper, her game and basketball intelligence put her in a position to be an asset to the perennial powerhouse sooner rather than later upon her arrival in Storrs. For now, Ekmark will focus on winning another high school national championship or two.
-- Brandon Clay
Whitted Visits Rocky Top
Last weekend, Class of 2013 forward Peyton Whitted made an unofficial visit to the University of Tennessee. In recent weeks, the new-look Tennessee coaching staff has made a push toward making a connection with Whitted and her family -- and as a result the 6-3 combo forward decided to make a trip to visit the SEC school.
Her father, Kevin, played college basketball for the Volunteers. Whitted is the No. 56-ranked player in the ESPN Super 60and has made previous trips to Virginia, Penn State, South Carolina and Georgia Tech, to name a few. She has also continued to work toward narrowing her list to a final group and ultimately making a decision.
Tennessee has been busy on the recruiting trail, making moves to score both Nia Moore of Bolingbrook, Ill., and a junior-college signee in Jasmine Phillips of Hartsville, S.C. The Lady Vols ] also ramped up the recruiting of two other Class of 2013 prospects in Roshonda Johnson of Little Rock, Ark., and Alexandra Harris of Lorain, Ohio.
-- Keil Moore
USA Basketball in Orlando
After a jam-packed week in Colorado Springs, Colo., the group of kids who made the U18 and U17 teams last week are now taking part in a week-long training camp in Orlando, Fl. On Thursday, both the U18 FIBA America's team and the U17 World Championship team played against the Brazilian national teams at their respective age groups in a game televised on ESPN3. The game footage is available here for viewers to watch at their leisure even if they missed the live broadcast.
In August, the U18 team will focus on qualifying for a spot in the U19 World Championships when they head to Gurabo, Puerto Rico, for the FIBA America's competition. The U17 team will travel to the Netherlands that same month as they attempt to take home the gold and win a World Championship this summer. It is important to note that in international competition, the even-numbered years (U16 and U18) are qualifiers, while the odd number years (U17 and U19) are World Championship events. Given that set of facts, the USA Basketball selection committee picks teams to focus on winning the World Championship first and then fields a team for the qualifying tournament second.
-- Keil Moore
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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. The service is used by more than 150 colleges and universities nationwide. Clay has been involved in the community since 2001 as a recruiting analyst, event operator and trainer. He can be reached at BrandonClay@PeachStateBasketball.com or you can follow him on Twitter @BrandonClayPSB.
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.