- Chris Hansen, ESPNHS HoopGurlz
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It was a crazy winter and spring in the world of women's college basketball. Several elite players waited until the late signing period to make their decisions, which has led to a shake up in the 2009 recruiting class rankings.
While there may not have been as many coaching changes as in years past, one of those changes, USC, had a major impact on recruiting. The departure of Mark Trakh and his staff from Los Angeles led to two ranked players -- No. 6 Monique Oliver and No. 55 Kendall Hackney -- changing their minds and choosing other schools after gaining releases.
Oliver, of Long Beach, Calif., decided to change coasts and sign with Rutgers. Her addition to the Scarlet Knights' recruiting class boosted its ranking into the top 10 at No. 9. She joins No. 39 Erica Wheeler, a point guard from Miramar, Fla., and No. 73 Christine Huber, a 6-foot-4 forward from West Islip, N.Y.
Hackney, from Cincinnati, Ohio, decided to stay closer to home and signed with Northwestern. The addition elevated Northwestern's ranking from No. 27 to No. 20. The Wildcats have three players ranked in the ESPN HoopGurlz Hundred, Inga Orekhova (40), Hackney (55), and Inesha Hale (87), and a fourth signee rated just outside the top 100 in Dannielle Diamant.
Kelsey Bone, the No. 2 player in the class, was the highest-rated player to sign in the spring signing period, choosing South Carolina. The addition of the powerful 6-5 post from Sugarland, Texas, to a class including a standout New York point guard, No. 70 Ieasia Walker, and a super-athletic guard, Monique Willis from Savannah, Ga., elevated coach Dawn Staley's signing class to No. 7 overall.
Tayler Hill, the No 12 prospect from Minneapolis, Minn., chose Ohio State over finalist Minnesota and Texas, which boosted Jim Foster's signing class to No. 19 in the final class rankings.
After the tragic loss of Kay Yow -- the long-time coaching legend at NC State who lost her battle with breast cancer -- two previous Wolfpack verbal commitments changed their minds. Jeniece Johnson, a 6-6 post from Washington, D.C., ranked No. 46 in the class and fellow H.D. Woodson high school teammates Bernisha Pinkett ended up signing with Kentucky. The two additions moved the Wildcats signing class up to No. 22.
While Baylor's class still remains at the top, the spring signings and changes were significant and many of these players will be making an impact immediately. College impact transfers such as Jasmine Dixon to UCLA or Brooklyn Pope to Baylor are not taken into consideration in the ESPN HoopGurlz signing class rankings. Junior college players are also excluded from the class rankings because they are not extensively evaluated.
Top 60 2009 Recruiting Classes
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Chris Hansen is the National Director of Prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz and covers girls' basketball and women's college-basketball prospects nationally for ESPN.com. A graduate of the University of Washington with a Communications degree, he has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a high-school and club coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. Hansen can be reached at email@example.com.
Baylor remains at the top, but Rutgers and South Carolina get a boost.