|W&M bound Ashley DeLeonibus|
Who's going where? Feast your eyes on our list -- a school-by-school rundown of the 2014 verbal commitments from the Virginia schools so far (at least the ones we know of). Drop us a note at email@example.com if you know of someone we've missed.
If the term "Maryland Pride" wasn't already taken, it would be a fitting moniker for the team George Mason is putting together.
The Patriots have bagged verbals from three members of Tony Gorham's Maryland Pride AAU squad - point guard Cydni Cole, scoring guard Qierra Murray and forward/center Casey Davis. And to think, we were worried about how new Patriots coach Nyla Milleson, whose career had been rooted in the Midwest, would fare in local recruiting (take a bow, Tajama Ngongba).
In addition to the Maryland trio, the Patriots also secured a commitment from forward/center Tayler Dodson, who played AAU with Washington-based Team Takeover and anchored a Group AA, Division 3 state championship team at Spotswood (14 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists in the title game). Dodson is already quite familiar with her soon-to-be college teammates, as she played AAU ball with Cole and Murray prior to this season.
"They're all going to mesh well with each other," Gorham said.
Not to mention be easy for local fans to root for. Come the 2014-15 season, the Patriots could be comprised of six natives of the Old Line State - Davis, Cole, Murray, Potomac's Brittany Jackson, Silver Spring's Christine Weithman and Bowie's Taylor Brown (a Georgetown transfer) - and a seventh player, Jasmine Jackson, who is also a former Hoya.
Maryland pride, indeed.
Qierra Murray, 5-9 G, Milford Mill Academy (Md.)
AAU: Maryland Pride
Smooth scoring guard - 1,007 career points in high school - who already has a unique chemistry with her AAU backcourt running mate Cole. "They're the best of friends, like sisters, and when they're on the court, it's like one mind controls the both of them," Gorham said. Not surprisingly, it took them virtually no time to agree on choosing the same school."They went on their visit together and on the way home, Qierra said, 'I'm committing," Gorham said. "Cydni goes, 'I'm coming with you.'" Gorham added that Murray comes with a quiet sense of humor and considerable intelligence. The word on the street is she's also pretty good at making shots from halfcourt.
Casey Davis, 6-3 F/C, Elizabeth Seton (Md.)
AAU: Maryland Pride
Post player who can operate in the low box or step out on the perimeter. Earned honorable mention all-conference honors in the rugged WCAC. Described by Gorham as "very, very outgoing. "Casey has a very good sense of humor, kind of silly at times, but overall just a great personality."
Tayler Dodson, 6-0 F, Spotswood (Va.).
AAU: Team Takeover
A high school low-post player who projects to play the 3 in college. Team Takeover coach Ron James has worked with Dodson for four years and says she displays a nice jump shot, an ability to handle the ball on the break and enough mobility to defend multiple positions on the perimeter. Dodson's father, Chris, was the head coach of the Spotswood state championship team.
Cydni Cole, 5-7 PG, Indian Creek High (Md.)
AAU: Maryland Pride
The "ultimate point guard" said Gorham, as Cole can score, pass and run a team with equal facility. "She's quiet and hard-working, a real student of the game," the coach said. As we noted before, she's already completely in sync with the rest of this group, particularly Murray.
Last week, new Radford coach Mike McGuire told us how pleased he was with the positive reception the Highlanders staff has received on the recruiting trail, and, so far, Jordan Toohey and Brittany Allen have been the most receptive. In both cases, McGuire's vision for the program was identified as a key part of his winning pitch.
Brittany Allen, 5-8 G, Richlands High (Va.)
AAU: Knoxville Lady Panthers
Apparently Highlanders assistant Fran Recchia started recruiting Allen when the Richlands star was in eighth grade. So when Allen de-committed from an early pledge to Winthrop, Recchia got back on the case. After a July visit, Allen decided to return the Highlanders' love. "She felt really wanted there," Knoxville Lady Panthers coach Don Brown said. Brown added that Allen comes with a solid assortment of basketball skills, but what really sets her apart is her intensity. "I call her the Tazmanian Devil, because she's everywhere out there on the floor," he said. "She takes a lot of charges, is a tough defender. ... Sometimes, I'll tell her, 'Hey, Brittany, can you dial it down to about a nine? It doesn't have to be a 10 all the time.' But that's how she is -- very serious, very mature and doesn't mess around, on the court or in the classroom. And if you don't get up to her speed, she's going to run right through you."
Jordan Toohey, 5-10 F, Pickerington North High (Ohio)
AAU: Ohio Lady Jayhawks.
Preparing for her third season as a starter for Pickerington, which annually plays one of the toughest schedules in Ohio. Plays the 3 and the 4 in high school - and excels at interior defense - but definitely projects as a 3 in college, where she'll look to take advantage of her quickness and abilities to run the floor and finish in transition. May have an adjustment period learning to play exclusively on the perimeter. Then again, doesn't every high school player have to make adjustments upon reaching the next level? Also brings strong academics.
This program is one of the reasons we don't pay a ton of attention to recruiting rankings. We've lost track of how many times, on signing day, we've asked "Who?" regarding a JMU recruit, and then a year or two later, we're like "Oh, OK...." So while we're not sure where any of these players will rank by the time they get to JMU, odds are they'll be a whole lot better by the time they leave.
Carley Brew, 6-0 F, Wilson High (Spring Township, Pa.)
AAU: Philadelphia Belles.
JMU fans, if you like physical, pedal-to-the-metal players, you're going to love Carley. "The best way to describe Carley is she plays more like a football player," AAU coach Sean Costello said. "She was on a loaded team with some really good players - UConn commit Sadie Edwards among them - and Carley played harder than any of them. Super, super aggressive, and can jump out of the gym. A rebounding machine. Costello said Brew also has the type of personality to should allow her to smoothly assume a leadership role as she becomes an upperclassman. Finally, Brew was part of a remarkable AAU postseason during which because of injuries and attrition the Belles had to take the court of the Nike Nationals Sliver Bracket semifinals with just six players. Then one player left the game with an injury that made it difficult for her to walk, and another fouled out. So the Belles had to put the injured kid back in with instructions to just stand there while the rest of the group played four on five. Somehow, the Belles lost by only two. I'm telling you, they ought to make a movie about it.
Hailee Barron, 5-9 PG, Rice High (Vermont)
AAU: Lone Wolf Athletics
Although one might not think of Vermont as a recruiting hotbed, Wayne Lafley has established a quality, nationally competitive club program in the Green Mountain State. And of course, few people figure to be as plugged in to this fact as JMU assistant and Vermont native Sean O'Regan (Go Red Sox!). In Barron, the Dukes will be getting a big point guard - and occasional 2-guard - who can beat teams with her head as well as her skills. "She just really understands how to play the game, how to get people the ball, how to run stuff, how to run a team," Lafley said of Barron, who is the daughter of a basketball coach. "She just doesn't get sped up. She made people play at our pace." Lafley added that while he always believed Barron was a Division I prospect, she really upped her stock - and got the Dukes really excited - with several sterling performances during the just-concluded AAU season. "She outplayed kids with lot bigger reps," he said. Personality-wise, Barron is "very outgoing, a happy-go-lucky kid who's kind of a goofball but loves to make people laugh," Lafley said.
Beverly Ogunrinde, 6-1 F, Vincent Pallotti High (Md.)
AAU: DC Heat Black.
"Upside" is the key word when it comes to Ogunrinde, a relative late-comer to basketball who brings athleticism, rebounding/shotblocking and a the promise of so much more, says AAU coach Jay Nolan. "She didn't start playing until her last year of middle school, so she's sort of raw," Nolan said. "But she just has so much potential, and she really wants to be good. And her best attribute may be her will to win. She just hates to lose." A low-block player in high school, Ogunrinde is working on the skills to make her effective on the wing as well, Nolan said.
WILLIAM AND MARY
Despite getting a late start, new Tribe coach Ed Swanson has already scored nicely in 2014 talent by using the same recruiting blueprint that led to such great success at Sacred Heart. Not surprisingly, the word "smart" comes up often when describing future Tribe players.
Jenna Green, 5-7 G, Centreville High (Va.)
AAU: Western Fairfax Basketball Club (WFBC)
"One of the smartest all-around basketball players I've ever coached," AAU coach John Giannelli, a 27-year coaching veteran, said of Green. "She's definitely what they call a floor general. Usually, I didn't have to call out a play. She could just see what the defense is running and call the play herself." More of a pass-first point guard early in her career, Green has developed into a capable scorer. Giannelli said she needs to get stronger - don't they all when making this jump? - and feeding the low post. Chose W&M for its academic chops, the fact it's not too far away and because of a belief in the new coaching staff. "Everything just fit perfectly," Giannelli said.
Abigail "Abby" Rendle, 6-4 C, South Lakes High (Va.)
AAU: Boo Williams Richmond
Green committed to the Tribe on Aug. 9. The following day, Rendle did likewise. "This is a girl who loves running the court," Giannelli said. "She's block a shot and sprint down to the other end. Will just run and run and run." Just don't expect a big vocal presence. "She's like a silent assassin," Giannelli said. "Actually, she's exactly like Jenna, a very quiet girl, very smart, another one with the high GPA and the AP classes. But when they get on the court, they're like whole different girls. You don't want to get in their way."
Ashley DeLeonibus, 6-3 F/C, The Bullis School
AAU: Germantown Lady Panthers.
Played for the same club team as two incoming Tribe freshmen, Marlena Tremba and Kasey Curtis. An athletic, finesse-style big who enjoys running rim to rim, according to AAU coach Milton Kimbrough. He added that DeLeonibus is working hard on developing her low-post game. Chose William and Mary because of the academics and the vision of the new coaching staff, Kimbrough said.
The Lancers landed one of the more intriguing early pledges in Autumn Childress, a one-time basketball prodigy who, if she can continue developing after two serious knee injuries, could turn out to be one of the steals of this recruiting class.
Autumn Childress, 5-10 G, Midlothian High (Va.)
AAU: Boo Williams-Richmond
We haven't been able to confirm this, but the story is so good we're passing it along anyway. According to Boo Williams-Richmond's Mike Davis, Childress was ranked among the top five players her age in the nation coming out of middle school. "They had a rule - no freshmen on the varsity - when she got to Midlothian, so in her first JV game, she scored 45," Davis said. "The next game, she was on varsity." Unfortunately, Childress was felled by torn meniscus in her left knee during the subsequent AAU season. Then, in her first game for Midlothian as a sophomore, Davis tore her left ACL and was sidelined again. "She's basically missed two and a half AAU seasons, and didn't really get a chance to develop," Davis said. While Childress has come a long way, Davis acknowledges she's still working to regain her old explosiveness. But the advanced skills are still there, and Childress has even added a solid perimeter shot to an arsenal that already included a talent for attacking the basket and craftiness in finishing in the paint. In short, Childress sounds like a player who can help the Lancers even without her old speed and power. But if she's able to get those weapons back - and Davis is confident she can - look out.
We've been blown away by the quality and quantity of talent being developed by the folks at Boo Williams Richmond. Apparently, so has Spiders coach Michael Shafer, who didn't have to look far to find his program's future generation.
Micaela Parson, 5-6 PG, Monacan High (Va.)
AAU: Boo Williams Richmond
Slasher-style point guard who is continuing to improve her shooting ability. "An incredibly hard-working kid who has really put the hours in," said Mike Davis, the lead trainer for Boo Williams Richmond and Three Point Line Sports. Parson displayed her work ethic after suffering a torn ACL at the end of her high school season. She had surgery in March, was back in the gym by July and has already resumed lateral movements. In addition, point guard Parson doesn't just make her teammates better; she also makes 'em laugh. "She's a comedian," Davis said. "She's hilarious. Spend some time with her and she'll make you laugh like you wouldn't believe.
Alicia Hudalla, 6-1 G/F, Glen Allen High (Va.)
AAU: Boo Williams Richmond
We spoke to Hudalla's father, Jeff, and he told us all about the great job Mike Davis was doing and how well the players were developing. Never mentioned that his own daughter was one of those players. Talk about humble. Fortunately, Davis was happy to fill us in on Alicia: "She'd been a post player all of her life because she was 5-10, 5-11 in 7th and 8th grade. By 10th grade, she was playing the point for her high school team. Now she's playing on the wing, with range out to the 3-point line. Just an absolutely phenomenally skilled player. And (Hudalla and Parson) are the best of friends. She'll be the one shooting with Micaela passing her the ball." Another extremely hard worker who has rebounded well from an ACL injury in 2012.
Rennie Harrison, 6-4 C, Episcopal (Va.)
AAU: Team Takeover.
Big, aggressive lefthanded post player - not too many of those out there, right? - who according to coach Ron James has a good work ethic and strong desire to become a better player. Could develop into a real low-post anchor, particularly defensively.
Say this for Joanne Boyle - the woman sure can recruit. The Cavaliers coach put together a string of star-stuffed classes during her days at Cal - every member of the Golden Bears team that advanced to the 2013 Final Four was a Boyle recruit. Her 2013 class at Virginia - Amanda Fioravanti, Sydney Umeri, Tiffany Suarez and Breyana Mason - is comprised entirely of Top-100 performers (Blue Star). And more elite talent is on the way for 2014. Now, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that in the ultra-competitive ACC, a lot of schools recruit like this, and have been doing so for a longer period of time. But thanks to Boyle (and obviously an extremely capable staff), at least the Cavaliers once again have a seat at the big girls recruiting table.
Mikayla Venson, 5-7 G, Yorktown (Va.)
AAU: Team Takeover
That Venson (ranked 16th on Fullcourt.com's Top 50) turned down Tennessee and Duke, among others, to sign with the Cavaliers speaks volumes about how coveted she was. Injuries, including a concussion suffered during her sophomore year, have limited Venson's actual game count. But she works out like a demon, and proved during a brief stint in AAU last spring that she clearly belongs to be ranked among the nation's best. Check out our story for more on Venson.
Aliyah Huland El, 6-1 F, Randolph High (N.J.)
AAU: Ring City
Talk about versatile - Huland El plays three sports (volleyball, track) and spent time at all five positions for her high school hoops team. She is ranked No. 18 on ESPN's Super 60 2014 performers. Click here for more on Huland El.
Lauren Moses, 6-2 F, Rancocas Valley Regional (N.J.)
AAU: Philly Triple Threat
Comes from the same high school as DeMya Walker, one of the greatest players in Cavaliers history. Chose Virginia over Louisville, Michigan and Virginia Tech. Another high school post player who will be transitioning to the wing in college. Her brother, Dezman, started six games at outside linebacker as a rookie for the Green Bay Packers last season and recorded four sacks.
Some scrappy but vertically-challenged Lady Monarchs squads have had to play small-ball the past two seasons, but coach Karen Barefoot reeled in a few bigs in her 2013 class and has more size pledged for 2014. It will be interesting to see what ODU can do when it can combine its energy with some low-post scoring options and ability to hold its own on the boards.
Keyana Brown, 5-11 G/F, Williamsburg Christian (Va.)
AAU: Boo Williams
Prolific shooter and scorer - she already has 2,001 career points in high school - whose trophy case is already overflowing with honors in the independent schools circuit. For more on Brown, click here to check out our story.
Maia Lee, 6-3 C, McLean High (Va.)
AAU: Team Takeover
Long, athletic presence who runs the floor extremely well and can finish around the basketball with either hand, says AAU coach Ron James, who added that Lee is working on developing her face-up game.
After looking to upgrade the talent level with massive recruiting classes the past two years, the Hokies may not be looking for volume in 2014. But there's always room for the right player, and Tech has been sweet on Brielle Blair for a long time.
Brielle Blaire, 6-2 F, Salisbury High (N.C.)
AAU: FBC Southeast Elite
Former Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger served up the first scholarship offer when Blaire was an eighth-grader, and current coach Dennis Wolff maintain that interest in a player both Fullcourt.com and Blue Star rank among the top 60 players nationally in the 2014 class. For more on Blaire, click here to check out our story.
Keturah "KK" Barbour, 6-0 F, Albemarle High (Va.)
AAU: Virginia Blue Star United
Stephanie Patton, 5-9 G, Towns County High (Ga.)
AAU: Deep South Elite
Chanette Hicks, 5-5 G, Maury High (Va.)
AAU: Norfolk Xpress