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Big Little decision

5/13/2011

Peyton Little Decides on Texas... A&M

We just wrote about Peyton Little, the No. 28 prospect in the ESPNU HoopGurlz 100, opening her recruitment up from her original decision to attend University of Texas not too long ago. As of Wednesday, Little is now back off the board but this time to one the Longhorns' in-state rival, Texas A&M. The two campuses are approximately two hours apart and Little's decision surely adds fuel to the fire of a conference rivalry that is as competitive as any in the Big XII. A&M head coach Gary Blair and his Aggie program is fresh off of a national championship last month.

This sharp-shooter from Abilene, Texas, has really elevated ranking over the past year by simply lifting her game up to new heights, showing that she is a winner at her core. The 5-foot-10 combo guard's play as of late has vaulted her into the discussion of the three or four best players in the always-loaded Lone Star state in the 2012 class. That's exclusive territory when the company includes Connecticut verbal, and the No. 2 player in the class, Moriah Jefferson, No. 15 Jordan Jones, a 5-5 point guard, and fellow A&M commit Courtney Williams, who is ranked 11th in the class.

Little's verbal, coupled with Williams and Oklahoma City standout Courtney Walker, gives the Aggies three 2012 Class top 30 perimeter threats, with each bringing something different to the table. When added to what Gary Blair's program will have on the roster upon their arrival in players like Kelsey Bone, a 6-4 post who will have two years of eligibility remaining; Karla Gilbert a 6-5 post with two years left; Alexia Standish, a 5-8 point guard with three years; and Rachel Mitchell a 6-7 post with three years, the future looks extremely bright in College Station.

Bria Smith to Louisville

It's rare for a two-game (McDonald's and WBCA) All-American to be available in mid-May. In Bria Smith's case, the wait was not planned. The 5-foot-9 shooting guard is ranked No. 8 in class of 2011 and was selected to the USA Basketball U17 national team last summer. Originally a University of Virginia commit, she rescinded her commitment after coach Debbie Ryan resigned from her post in March.

Smith ultimately chose between Louisville and Tennessee. Though to the casual fan, Tennessee seems like the more logical of the two, Louisville was just in the National Championship game in 2009, falling short to fellow Big East program Connecticut. Head coach Jeff Walz is still one of the country's hottest names after also serving on the Maryland bench as an assistant during their title run in 2006. The Cardinals return one of the nation's most electric guards next season in sophomore point guard Shoni Schimmel.

Schimmel will join Smith later this month for USA Basketball trails. They should play well together with Schimmel's flash and Smith's energy on both ends of the floor. Mix in another talented sophomore guard in New Jersey's Charmaine Tay and all of the sudden Walz has one of the most talented backcourts in the league, if not the entire country.

USA Basketball

USA Basketball has assembled a great group for the May 22-25 U19 national team trials. In the nine years that I've been covering the sport, this very well could be the best collection of non-professional talent that I have ever seen assembled in one gym. I'll be on hand from Sunday night until Tuesday night. There will be some great battles at every position as current high school standouts battle with some of the best incoming freshman and rising sophomores in the country.

The point guard position is especially deep with seven players -- Jordan Adams, Andraya Carter, Aaryn Ellenberg, Bria Hartley, Moriah Jefferson, Ariel Massengale and Odyssey Sims -- who are legitimately good enough to start for any BCS team in the country on any given day. The three who were college freshman last year, Ellenberg, Hartley and Sims, did just that.

That number does not factor in combo-type guards Briyona Canty, Alexis Jones and Meighan Simmons who we consider to be scorers especially in international play. Per USA Basketball, the World University Games trials roster, comprised primarily rising college juniors and seniors, will be available early next week. Those tryouts will run concurrent with the U19 so I'll be on hand for both.

In addition, USA Basketball will release the final U16 team trial roster next week, which will include additional participants to the 35-player roster initially announced.


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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. Clay has been involved in the community since 2001 as a recruiting analyst, event operator and trainer. He can be reached at bclay@peachstatehoops.com.