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Mikaylah Williams tops Class of 2023 basketball recruiting rankings

(Mercedes Oliver/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

With each new recruiting class comes the opportunity to dive into another wave of standouts.

Now that the school year is nearing an end, we’re shifting our attention to this impressive group in the Class of 2023. We pored over game film, social media and local and national news to compile our first-ever Top 25 women’s basketball recruiting rankings.

Our mission is to keep you abreast of the all of the movement and trends as we move through the 2022-23 NCAA recruiting calendar. We hope you’ll follow along.

1. Mikaylah Williams, 6-1 guard — Parkway HS (La.)

The reigning Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year was also the only junior to be a Naismith Player of the Year finalist. Williams is a shot creator whose success is predicated on patience and speed.

2. Juju Watkins, 6-2 guard — Sierra Canyon (Calif.)

Watkins made an immediate impact as an incoming transfer to Sierra Canyon in 2021-22. She averaged 24.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game and was a major factor in the team’s state championship victory. Watkins was named California Girls Basketball Gatorade Player of the Year.

3. Breya Cunningham, 6-4 post — La Jolla Country Day (Calif.)

Cunningham’s strong post presence provides La Jolla Country Day with a formidable scoring option. The post averaged a double-double this season and has already surpassed 1,000 career points in her high school career.

4. Ciera Toomey, 6-3 post — Dunmore HS (Pa.) — UNC commit

Toomey, who committed to North Carolina last week over Duke, UConn, Maryland, Northwestern, Penn and Villanova, shot 67.2 percent from the field during her junior season. She averaged 18.5 points per game.

5. Milaysia Fulwiley, 5-6 point guard — W.J. Keenan HS (S.C.)

Fulwylie has a reputation for breaking defenders’ ankles, and in this year’s South Carolina state title game, the explosive floor general dropped 41 points. It marked W.J. Keenan’s — and Fulwiley’s — third straight state championship.

6. Ashlynn Shade, 5-10 guard — Noblesville HS (Ind.) — UConn commit

Shade committed to UConn in January, and the Gatorade Indiana Girls Basketball Player of the Year has garnered national attention for good reason. This season, she averaged 20.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.7 steals per game, and tied an all-time high with 31 points in the 4A Indiana state championship.

7. KK Arnold, 5-10 point guard — Germantown HS (Wisc.) — UConn commit

This year’s Wisconsin Girls Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year is also committed to UConn. Arnold is a reliable ball-handler with a 2.68-to-1 assists-to-turnover ratio.

8. Madison Booker, 6-1 wing — Germantown HS (Miss.)

Booker plays with high speed and intensity. Her USA Basketball experience and ability to control the pace of a game have attracted the attention of some of the nation’s top programs. Her list includes UConn, Louisville, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

9. Jadyn Donovan, 6-0 guard — Sidwell Friends School (D.C.)

One of the nation’s top guards, Donovan scored 15 points in the Quakers’ State Champions Invitational title game victory. She’s a contributor all over the floor, averaging 15.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 1.9 blocks during Sidwell Friends’ dominant 30-0 season.

10. Reniya Kelly, 5-5 point guard — Hoover HS (Ala.) — UNC commit

Kelly’s “Broadway” nickname is well-earned; the UNC commit seems to always put on a show. She’s quick and difficult to guard, and she’s never intimidated to take it to the basket. Kelly can also knock it down from deep and shoots over 41 percent from beyond the arc.

11. Aalyah Del Rosario, 6-5 post — Trenton Catholic (N.J.)

Del Rosario plays a complete game, finding ways to shine while also creating opportunities for her teammates. She attacks the interior with consistency, and her ceiling is high.

12. Courtney Ogden, 5-11 wing — Westminster School (Ga.) — Stanford commit

Ogden, a Stanford commit, has the basketball IQ to thrive with the Cardinal, but her versatility and confidence would make her an asset to any program. Ogden can play as a guard or a wing.

13. Taliah Scott, 5-9 guard — Saint John’s Country Day (Fla.) — Arkansas commit

A beacon of offensive efficiency, Scott entered her junior season with more than 1,100 career points. In 2021-22, the Arkansas commit averaged 31.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.4 steals per game.

14. Chloe Kitts, 6-2 forward — DME Academy (Fla.)

Kitts was a key piece for national power DME this season, averaging 18.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. In the GEICO Nationals semifinal against victorious Montverde Academy, nobody scored more points than Kitts. She delivered a double-double of 25 points and 13 rebounds.

15. Letycia Vasconcelos, 6-7 post — Montverde Academy (Fla.)

The tallest recruit on this list brings length and the ability to finish beneath the basket. Originally from Brazil, Vasconcelos has the strength and toughness in the frontcourt to make her an intriguing NCAA prospect.

16. Sammie Wagner, 6-1 wing — Ronald Reagan HS (Texas) — Texas commit

Once a Baylor commit, Wagner is the top-ranked junior in the state of Texas. She averaged 25.9 points and 12.5 rebounds per game last season.

17. Cassandre Prosper, 6-2 forward — Cairine Wilson Secondary School (Ontario)

Prosper is a fighter on both ends of the floor. The dynamic forward is a reliable shooter with a wide wingspan.

18. Hannah Hidalgo, 5-6 point guard – Paul VI HS (N.J.)

With 25.4 points and 4.0 points per game, Hidalgo stands out in a competitive New Jersey scene. She’s a distributor who can step up as a scorer when the team needs her.

19. Jada Williams, 5-6 point guard – La Jolla Country Day (Calif.) — UCLA commit

Williams led La Jolla in assists last season with 4.1 per game. The first commit in UCLA’s Class of 2023 has a knack for finding the basket, even in heavy coverage.

20. Delaney Thomas, 6-2 forward — St. John’s (D.C.)

One of the class’ most balanced players, Thomas averaged 17.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 2.2 steals per game this past season in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, one of the nation’s most stacked leagues.

21. Montaya Dew, 6-2 forward — Centennial HS (N.V.) — Arizona commit

Dew can impact the game in the frontcourt and around the perimeter. Regardless of where she is, she often finds a way to score.

22. Amiyah Reynolds, 6-0 guard — South Bend Washington (Ind.) — Maryland commit

An integral part of Washington’s state title team, Reynolds averaged 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.8 steals per game this past season.

23. Taylor Woodson, 6-0 guard — Hopkins HS (Minn.) — Michigan commit

An athletic game-changer from Hopkins … where have we heard that before? Woodson is strong off the bounce and unafraid in traffic.

24. Amanda Muse, 6-4 post — Heritage HS (Calif.)

Muse performs at an advanced level below the rim, averaging 17.1 points, 10 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game for Heritage high school this season.

25. Essence Cody, 6-3 post — Valdosta HS (Ga.)

Cody surpassed 1,000 career points in January and has the ability to score inside and out. The talented post averaged 17.6 points, 13.6 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game this past season.

Caroline Makauskas is a contributing writer for Just Women’s Sports. She also writes about college basketball for Blue Ribbon Sports and covers a variety of sports on her TikTok @cmakauskas. Follow her on Twitter @cmakauskas.

Katie Ledecky punches ticket to Paris, fourth Olympics

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JUNE 15: Katie Ledecky celebrates after winning the Women's 400 LC Meter Freestyle during the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Katie Ledecky is officially on to her fourth straight Olympics, punching her ticket to Paris in the 400-meter freestyle on Saturday. 

But Ledecky’s wasn’t the only name in the headlines in Indianapolis. Virginia’s Gretchen Walsh set a World Record in the 100-meter butterfly on Saturday in the semifinal. And roughly 24 hours later, she was an Olympian, taking first in the event. 

"I was definitely nervous," Walsh said. "There were a lot of what-ifs. Coming off breaking the world record, I was thinking, 'Do I need to do that again just to make the team? What if I get third? What's that even even going to look like?'"

She later added that she “couldn’t ask for a better start” to the meet. 

Both Torri Huske and Regan Smith were under the previous American record placing second and third respectively. But Smith, whose time would’ve won her silver at the Tokyo Olympics, won’t swim the event in Paris after placing third. 

And in front of a record crowd, 46-year-old Gabrielle Rose proved that age is just a number. She set a best time in the 100-meter breaststroke en route to advancing to the semifinals of the event. There, she finished in 10th place – and with another best time. 

“I’m just hoping to show people you can do more, you’re capable of doing more,” Rose, a two-time Olympian, said. “You can have more energy, you can have more strength than you thought was possible. I want women in particular to not be afraid to be strong, to lift weights, to take care of themselves and just know that they can have a lot more in the older chapters of their lives.”

WNBA’s Rookie of the Year race heats up

WASHINGTON, DC -  JUNE 6: Angel Reese #5 of the Chicago Sky and Aaliyah Edwards #24 of the Washington Mystics after the game on June 6, 2024 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

The WNBA continues to make waves this season, with the 2024 rookie class continuing to impress. 

Sky forward Angel Reese has registered six straight double-doubles, tying the longest streak for a rookie even as Chicago skids to a four-game losing streak. It’s also tied for the most by a rookie in WNBA history alongside Tina Charles and Cindy Brown.

Reese is the only rookie to average a double-double this season. But Mystics rookie Aaliyah Edwards has been averaging near a double-double this month, as Washington rattled off two back-to-back wins after a franchise-worst 0-12 start.

Kamilla Cardoso has been solid in her start to the season, registering her first professional double-double on Sunday with 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

Caitlin Clark has had a solid month for the Fever, leading the rookies with an average of 14.0 points per game. On Sunday, she neared a triple-double with 23 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds in the Fever’s win over Chicago. 

And after an abysmal start amidst a tough stretch of games, the Fever have now won four out of their last six games, with last year's Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston getting into the groove with scoring.

In Los Angeles, rookie duo Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson have been putting together a solid season, with both netting 16 points apiece in the team’s loss to Atlanta on Sunday.

Those looking for a clear frontrunner for rookie of the year won’t get one: Clark (assists), Reese (rebounds, steals), and Brink (blocks) each currently sit in the top five league-wide in a number of key stats.

13th NWSL Match Weekend Dominated by Draws

NWSL Washington Spirit's Croix Bethune celebrates her stoppage-time equalizer against San Diego Wave FC
Washington's Croix Bethune celebrates her stoppage-time equalizer against San Diego. (Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports)

The NWSL's weekend action brought with it no separation on the table, as five of the weekend's seven games ended in draws.

Three of those matches finished without a single goal, as Houston, Angel City, Orlando, North Carolina, Seattle, and Portland all came down to 0-0 draws. Only Gotham and Utah earned wins, with the New York/New Jersey side passing the Thorns to claim fourth place in the standings. 

For the Royals, the 1-0 win over Bay FC ends a 10-game winless streak. Utah now sits one point behind Seattle at the bottom of the table.

Despite the split points, two games did provide some fireworks by way of epic stoppage-time comebacks. Center back Sam Staab had her first goal in a Red Stars uniform, helping Chicago save a point in Kansas City in the 90th minute.

Washington also saved a result in the nick of time, as a masterful 96th-minute Croix Bethune strike got the best of talented Wave FC center-back Naomi Girma to finish things off at 1-1.

As for the Golden Boot leaderboard, only Temwa Chawinga managed to make a move on the leaderboard, with a goal against Chicago tying her with Orlando’s Barbra Banda for second.

Tobin Heath Details Injury Recovery Journey, Hints at Possible Return

Tobin Heath on the field for the USWNT in October 2021
Tobin Heath last played for the USWNT in October 2021. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

On the latest episode of the RE-CAP Show, USWNT star Tobin Heath revealed that she underwent a second knee surgery in her quest to return to the pitch. 

Heath hasn’t played since the 2022 NWSL season, when her tenure with then-OL Reign was cut short due to a knee surgery. A two-time Olympic gold medalist and World Champion, she hasn't addressed her playing career much over the last two years. 

In the latest RE-CAP Show episode, Heath revealed that she had to receive a cartilage transplant in her knee.

"I think it was public when I got my first knee surgery, which was actually just kind of a clean-out of the knee," Heath said. "I ended up trying to rehab back for about a year and got pretty close. I thought about signing for a team. At that time I didn’t think I was there enough with the knee to be able to commit fully to a team, because the way I play football is I’m all in — like I play to be at the highest level, I play to be winning World Cups, Olympics, club championships.

"And then obviously with that first surgery not helping, I got a second pretty big surgery with my knee that then put me in the category of like, 'Will I ever play professionally again?'"

Initially, Heath says she wasn’t aware of the gravity of the second surgery. But an examination of her knee revealed that she needed a more intensive repair than previously thought.

"When I got there, I thought I was going to be getting kind of like a smaller version of a surgery, and right before I got into surgery, there was kind of a big revelation about the current state of my knee that put me in the category to get a serious knee surgery. It was a cartilage transplant," Heath said.

While Heath said she hasn’t exactly closed the door on a potential return, she's currently focusing intently on rehab — with the future remaining unclear.

"I kind of just pray to God and say like, 'Whatever your will is for my career, that’s what it’s going to be,'" she added. "And I’ll just work my ass off and see where that gets."

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