PHOTOS BY GLENN NELSON
In what could be the most significant commitment of the year, because of the dominoes that may tumble because of it, Danielle Robinson of San Jose, Calif., has made a surprising verbal to the Univeristy of Oklahoma.
Robinson, a 5-foot-9 point guard and another in a long line of Archbishop Mitty High School products, is a five-star prospect ranked No. 21 in the HoopGurlz Hot 100. She will add a bundle of speed and quickness to the Sooner lineup. She'd previously had California, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt and Washington - but not Oklahoma - among her list of finalists.
Meanwhile, Drey Mingo, a wing-forward out of Atlanta, Ga., may have delivered a soft verbal to Maryland, the defending NCAA women's basketball champions. A source told HoopGurlz that Mingo could make the commitment public after she makes all of her official visits.
Perhaps the biggest development of all is that Vicki Baugh of Sacramento, Calif., the second-highest ranked uncommitted prospect in the country, has agreed to visit Oklahoma in October, according to sources close to the 6-foot-4 wing and the Sooner program. Sooner coach Sherri Coale and her staff also are in on the recruitment of Stefanie Gilbreath, a 6-1 guard out of Katy, Texas, and the No. 11 prospect in 2007, according to HoopGurlz.com. Gilbreath has been considered a lean for Southern Cal, where she, Robinson, Lenita Sanford of Lynnwood, Calif., and Kari LaPlante of Glendale, Ariz., visited last week, but Oklahoma is closer to home, leading to speculation that the Sooners are closing on her.
The epicenter of the Sooners' recent recruiting muscle appears to be the egregarious Paris twins, sophomores Courtney and Ashley, who are from the Bay Area and are said to have considerable sway with California's top players. Oklahoma has rushed toward the top of the women's college-basketball world behind Courtney Paris, who had a spectacular, All-American freshman season, during which she rewrote 55 Oklahoma, 16 Big 12 Conference and four NCAA records.
Coale already has added freshmen Amanda Thompson of Chicago, Ill., the No. 5 overall prospect in 2006, according to HoopGurlz, and Abi Olajuwon of Los Angeles, Calif., the No. 8 center in the class.
Meanwhile, if the Mingo commitment comes through, Maryland and coach Brenda Frese, already considered the preseason No. 1 team by two national sources, are quietly assembling a formidable signing class for 2007. Mingo, 6-2, is a big, mobile and hyperkenetic player, ranked No. 16 overall by HoopGurlz.com and who, in the estimation of the website, narrowly missed making the USA Basketball U18 team. She would join three four-star commitments in ultra-athletic guard Anjale Barrett of the Bronx, N.Y., the No. 45 overall prospect by HoopGurlz; sharp-shooter Kim Rodgers of Virginia Beach, Va., No. 48, and prodigy Katheryn Lyons of Winston Salem, N.C., who verbaled to the Terps as a sophomore.
Mingo supposedly already has visited Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt, though it is not known which, if any, were offficial visits. She is thought to have an official visit scheduled with Stanford and possibly Texas Tech.
Robinson had an excellent summer for the San Jose Cagers, as well as the East Bay Xplosion, a program that produced the Nos. 2 and 3 prospects in 2006 - Jacki Gemelos of Stockton, Calif., and Jayne Appel of Pleasant Hill, Calif. At one point, she played in the championship game of a tournament near Los Angeles for the Cagers on Wednesday night, took a red-eye flight to Atlanta, was picked up by Xplosion coach Mark Anger at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday and played two games, the first of which was at 9:20 a.m that day.
And if Robinson proves to be the magnet to Norman, Okla., that she is shaping up to be, she also may be the most valuable recruit in the 2007 class.
Glenn Nelson is the publisher of HoopGurlz.com and the editor-in-chief of Scout Media (www.Scout.com), an online sports network and magazine-publishing company and subsidiary of Fox Interactive Media. He also founded and coached the Dragons and Northwest HoopGurlz select girls basketball teams. Glenn previously was a longtime, national-award-winning basketball columnist and writer for The Seattle Times. His work also has appeared in several national magazines and books. He is co-author of "Rising Stars: The Ten Best Players in the NBA" (Rosen Publishing, 2002). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Hansen is the National Director of Scouting for Women's Basketball at HoopGurlz.com and Scout.com. He leads the panel that evaluates and ranks girl's basketball prospects nationally for HoopGurlz and Scout.com. Chris has been involved in the women’s basketball community since 1998 as a coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.