STORY & PHOTOS BY GLENN NELSON
Two five-star prospects - the Nos. 9 and 16 ranked players in the land. Three more four-stars - two of them also ranked among the top 100. It all begs one question.
Can anyone catch the turtle?
That's issue after Maryland's recruiting version of shock and awe - commitments from guard Marah Strickland of Towson, Md., and forward Drey Mingo of Atlanta, Ga., within a week of each other. Coach Brenda Frese previously had earned verbals from Anjale Barrett of the Bronx, N.Y., the No. 45 overall prospect by HoopGurlz; Kim Rodgers of Virginia Beach, Va., No. 48, and Katheryn Lyons of Winston Salem, N.C., who is ranked 57th.
The Terrapins already won the 2006 national championship with a relatively young team, so if the commitments hold - the early signing period is Nov. 8-15 - Maryland will be two-deep at every position. Just Frese's corps of guards from this signing class could be the envy of the nation. Rogers and Strickland, teammates on the powerful Boo Williams Summer League club team, are two of the most accomplished perimeter scorers in the country. Barrett is ultra-athletic and extraordinarily skilled and Lyons is one of the steadiest point guards in the East.
But is Frese's unquestionably the best signing class in the country? How about the best, just in the ACC?
Vicki Baugh (right) could be one of the keys
to the recruiting race
Duke and coach Gail Goestenkors don't have the numbers, but their class exceeds Maryland's in terms of pure star power. The Blue Devils boast of two dynamic Thomases in Krystal, from Orlando, Fla., and Jasmine, from Fairfax, Va., both of whom are five-star prospects. Moreover, Krystal Thomas is the best power forward in the 2007 class, while Jasmine Thomas is the best pure point - and they are ranked by HoopGurlz as the fifth and sixth best prospects in the country. Add to those two forward Karima Christmas, a four-star prospect from Houston, Texas, ranked 31st in the HoopGurlz Hot 100, and Duke has three cornerstone positions covered in one signing class, plus is among the final three for Kelley Cain, the five-star center out of Atlanta.
Out West, Stanford struck so early, the luster of Tara VanDerveer's class has faded in some fans' memories, but it is formidable. Kayla Pedersen of Fountain Hills, Ariz., is 6 feet 4 and could play four positions for the Cardinal, plus is the No. 4 overall prospect in the 2007 class. Pedersen is joined by another five-star prospect, Jeanette Pohlen of Brea, Calif., No. 22 in the HoopGurlz Hot 100; four-star guard Hannah Donaghe of Atascadero, Calif., No. 44, and four-star forward Ashley Cimino of Yarmouth, Me., ranked 72nd in the Hot 100.
And the race isn't even close to being over.
Tennessee already has the nation's No. 2 prospect, Angie Bjorklund of Spokane, Wash., in hand, as well as four-star guard Sydney Smallbone, No. 37 in the Hot 100, and coach Pat Summitt still is in on three of the top uncommitted prospects in the country - Cain, No. 3 Jantel Lavender of Cleveland, Ohio, and No. 7 Vicki Baugh of Sacramento, Calif. Oklahoma, with five-star guard Danielle Robinson of San Jose, Calif., already in the fold, also is among Baugh's final five and just had five-star guard Stefanie Gilbreath of Katy, Texas, No. 11 overall, in for an official visit.
Don't fall asleep on Pokey Chatman at LSU, either. She is among the finalists for Baugh, Cain and point guard Khadijah Rushdan of Wilmington, Del., who is No. 10 in the Hot 100. LSU also has caught the fancy of two frontliners from Seattle, Wash. - Christina Nzekwe, the 32nd overall prospect, and Regina Rogers, who is 42nd.
In this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately society, Maryland is all the rage. Frese has produced the two more recent big commitments. Yet, with hares Chatman, Goestenkors, Summitt and Sherri Coale of Oklahoma looming in the pack, it's difficult to declare the turtle the winner just yet.
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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. Glenn also founded and coached
the Dragons and Northwest HoopGurlz select girls basketball teams. He 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 email@example.com.