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Recruiting class rankings: LSU women’s hoops comes out on top

LSU coach Kim Mulkey put together the No. 1 recruiting class in the early NCAA signing period. (Andrew Wevers/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Another NCAA early signing period has come to a close, and with it, a handful of women’s basketball programs stood above the rest in their pursuit of the nation’s top recruits in the Class of 2023.

Just Women’s Sports has compiled its list of the 15 best recruiting hauls from this year’s cycle. Click here to learn more about these individual signees, with our most recent list of the top 25 players in the Class of 2023.

1. LSU

Kim Mulkey’s name will forever be remembered among the game’s most successful coaches, and for good reason. Her capacity to not only develop but also recruit elite players has made her programs perennially relevant.

Last year — the first season in Mulkey’s tenure in Baton Rouge — LSU managed to have one of the most popular student sections in women’s college hoops. The community is fired up about the Tigers, a bonus for any potential commit.

With the Class of 2023, Mulkey brings in four more players to be excited about, including two in our top four: No. 1 overall recruit Mikaylah Williams, a 6-foot-1 guard, and No. 4 recruit Aalyah Del Rosario, a 6-foot-6 post player. Quick wing Janae Kent (Ill.) and 5-7 point guard Angelica Velez, a teammate of Del Rosario at The Webb School, round out what is truly the most impressive signing class in the country.

2. Arizona

Wildcats coach Adia Barnes has managed to sign three five-star recruits, all of whom eagerly await their opportunity to bring Arizona to the top of the PAC-12 and raise a banner or two.

Next fall, the Wildcats will welcome La Jolla Country Day’s Breya Cunningham, a 6-4 forward from California, 5-8 point guard Jada Williams (Calif.) and Montaya Dew, a 6-2 forward from Nevada. The West Coast consistently promises high-level talent, and Barnes bringing in a few of the region’s best bodes well for Arizona’s future.

3. South Carolina

Four little birdies have flown into the nest, and South Carolina keeps on rolling. After 2022’s national championship season, during which the Gamecocks held on to the top spot in the AP Top 25 from start to finish, it’s no surprise that South Carolina has cleaned up on the recruiting trail.

Coach Dawn Staley, whose ability to reload a roster has transformed the program over the last decade, doesn’t promise immediate minutes. In her transparency, she attracts players who understand and accept the Gamecocks’ culture — a five-star recruit may have to wait her turn at first but will eventually earn the opportunity to make an impact.

No. 11 overall recruit Chloe Kitts, a 6-2 forward from Florida, in-state point guard Milaysia Fulwiley, 5-10 guard Tessa Johnson (Minn.) and 6-1 wing Sahnya Jah (Fla.) are next up for South Carolina.

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4. Notre Dame

If anyone understands the winning pride and tradition of Notre Dame women’s basketball, it’s coach Niele Ivey. A player on the 2001 national champion team and the associate head coach for the 2018 title team, Ivey understands how to elevate the Fighting Irish from every angle.

Look no further than a quick glance at the 2023 signing class, which boasts 5-7 point guard Hannah Hidalgo (N.J.), Canadian sensation Cassandre Prosper, a 6-2 forward, and dynamic guard Emma Risch (Fla.).

5. Duke

The Kara Lawson era of Duke women’s basketball is gaining steam. Coach Lawson secured the highest-ranked Duke signee in the modern recruiting era in Sidwell Friends’ Jadyn Donovan, a 6-foot guard from Washington, D.C. Donovan, who’s used to sharing the court with stars like Kiki Rice and Kendall Dudley, is the type of commitment the Blue Devils need to eventually make the waves in the ACC and beyond.

Add in 6-2 forward Delaney Thomas (D.C.) and 5-9 guard Oluchi Okananwa (Mass.), and Duke has put together an impressive recruiting class.

6. UConn

Playing for coach Geno Auriemma at UConn isn’t exactly a hard sell. His all-time record of 1,149 wins and 150 losses speaks for itself, with 22 Final Fours and 11 national championships over the course of 36 seasons. Rebecca Lobo, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles, Maya Moore and Breanna Stewart are among the alumni that Auriemma has produced, and his current roster includes names like Aaliyah Edwards, Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd.

So who’s next? Look no further than this year’s crop of 2023 signees — 5-10 point guard KK Arnold (Wis.), 5-10 guard Ashlynn Shade (Ind.) and 6-2 forward Qadence Samuels (Md.).

7. Stanford

Coach Tara VanDerveer has perfectly curated the Stanford standard, with players who lead the way both on the court and in the classroom and are bursting with basketball IQ and exhibit relentless work ethic. It’s a system that allows willing players to grow and thrive, evolving to reach their fullest potential.

Both 5-11 wing Courtney Ogden (Ga.) and 5-11 guard Sunaja Agara (Minn.) committed to the Cardinal in 2021. They were joined by Chloe Clardy, a 5-9 guard from Arkansas who gave her verbal commitment this year. In picking up three of the most intriguing players in the 2023 cycle, VanDerveer continues the long line of Stanford commits ready to raise the bar.

8. North Carolina

Coach Courtney Banghart appears to be exactly who the Tar Heels needed to lead the charge on their path to return to the Final Four, with three winning seasons under her belt already. North Carolina’s 2023 signing class reflects a continued desire to reach the top.

Ciera Toomey, a 6-3 post from Pennsylvania, and 5-5 point guard Reniya Kelly (Ala.) could prove to be a top-tier duo, thanks to Toomey’s graceful post navigation and Kelly’s court vision. Also joining the signing class are 6-3 post Rylee Grays (Tex.) and 6-1 forward Laila Hull (Ind.).

9. Maryland

Coach Brenda Frese recruited three creative, difficult-to-guard playmakers to join the Terrapin family. Each of the signees — 6-foot guard Amiyah Reynolds (Ind.), 6-foot wing Riley Nelson (Md.) and 6-1 wing Emily Fisher (Ill.) — can take care of the ball and find a way to score, even in high-pressure situations.

The Maryland faithful need some stability in what has become an uncertain period for the program. The signings of Reynolds, Nelson and Fisher should soothe some worries and reassure fans that, even in an increasingly competitive Big Ten, Maryland still looms large.

10. NC State

NC State coach Wes Moore doesn’t have a single freshman on the 2022-23 roster, so the Wolfpack were due for another impressive recruiting cycle. After four consecutive Sweet 16s, NC State fell just short in last season’s Elite Eight, falling to UConn in double overtime. While fans were surely disappointed, the positives were clear as day — there’s momentum in Raleigh.

Moore built upon that with a dynamic, four-piece signing class that possesses a high ceiling. The Wolfpack won big with signings from 6-3 post Mallory Collier (Tenn.), 5-11 guard Laci Steele (Okla.) and 6-2 forward Maddie Cox (Tex.). But few recruits in the Class of 2023 have stock rising as quickly as Zoe Brooks, a 5-10 guard from New Jersey. Her well-rounded skill set would provide efficiency to any roster, and NC State will be all the better with her contributions.

11. USC

The Trojans have never successfully recruited a player as highly touted as Sierra Canyon’s Juju Watkins (Calif.), the No. 2 overall recruit in the Class of 2023. Just as a player like A’ja Wilson contributed to the now-red hot recruiting trail of South Carolina, Watkins’ talent has the potential to return USC to the juggernaut it once was.

Coach Lindsay Gottlieb, now in her second season, appears to be steering the Trojans in the right direction. Also committed to USC is 5-6 point guard Malia Samuels, the top recruit in the state of Washington.

12. Texas

In his first two seasons with the Longhorns, coach Vic Schaefer has delivered Texas to its first back-to-back Elite Eight appearances since the 1980s. A proven recruiter from his time with Texas A&M (2003-12) and Mississippi State (2012-20), Schaefer now bears the weight of taking Texas to the next level and adding another National Championship to the trophy case. What has not been accomplished since Jody Conradt’s 1985-86 roster seems within reach.

By signing in-state guards Madison Booker and Gisella Maul and bolstering the post with another in-state prospect in Abbie Boutilier — the tallest player in Texas women’s basketball history at 6-9 — Schaefer keeps his eyes on the prize.

13. Iowa State

After last year’s Sweet Sixteen run, Iowa State continues to rear its head as a contender for the Big 12 title. Longtime coach Bill Fennelly can rest easy knowing the future is bright in Ames, Iowa as he embarks on his 26th season with the Cyclones.

Iowa State picked up signings from outstanding passer Addy Brown, a 6-2 wing from Kansas, 6-2 forward Jalynn Bristow (Texas) and 6-3 post Audi Crooks (Iowa) — all three of whom are fierce competitors fresh off impressive summers on the AAU circuit.

14. Oregon

There’s something special about Oregon women’s basketball — coach Kelly Graves finds big personalities with even bigger talent and allows them to shine together in Eugene.

Once again, the Ducks have plenty to look forward to in this year’s group of signees. In-state product Sofia Bell, a 6-1 wing, Sammie Wagner (Texas), another 6-1 wing who flipped from Texas, and 6-3 forward Sarah Rambus round out the 2023 recruiting class.

15. Alabama

Crimson Tide coach Kristy Curry is building something unprecedented in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Last season, the Crimson Tide made their first NCAA tournament appearance — and subsequent Round of 32 — of the century.

Her 2022-23 roster is made up almost entirely of upperclassmen and graduate transfers, so Alabama needed a few signees to continue recent upward momentum. In this 2023 cycle, Curry secured reliable frontcourt depth in 6-3 post Essence Cody (Ga.) and in-state product Naomi Jones, while also bringing in 6-foot guard Reychel Douglas (N.C.) to solidify the backcourt.

Caroline Makauskas is a contributing writer for Just Women’s Sports. She also covers a variety of sports on her TikTok @cmakauskas. Follow her on Twitter @cmakauskas.

Esme Morgan Signs With Washington Spirit

Esme Morgan of England inspects the pitch prior to the UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match between England and France
The England national will join the Spirit in DC on July 15th. (Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

English defender Esme Morgan has signed with the Washington Spirit, the club announced Thursday. 

Morgan had been with WSL side Manchester City since 2017, with one year remaining on her contract. She’ll now make a move to the NWSL, with City receiving a fee for the move. 

"I wanted to join the Spirit because they have the ambition and tools to be the best team in the NWSL, and trying to achieve that will be a great but enjoyable challenge," Morgan said in a club statement.

"On an individual level too, the opportunity to work under Jonatan [Giráldez], one of the world's best coaches, is really exciting and I look forward to learning from him and pushing myself to become the best player I can be, hopefully helping the team to success."

According to ESPN, Morgan’s lack of playing time under City manager Gareth Taylor played a key role in her decision to leave the league championship runners-up. She’ll join the Spirit in Washington, DC on July 15th, but won’t be able to begin play until August. 

Spirit president Mark Krikorian called Morgan an "exceptional talent" and added that the club is "thrilled" to add her to the roster.

"I think she’s pretty talented," Giraldez told reporters on Friday. "A young player with a great future, but with experience already in a great league and with the national team. She’s been surrounded by great players and also great coaches, so she can give us experience."

Ledecky Goes for 4 at Olympic Swimming Trials

Swimmer katie ledecky swimming at Toyota US Open
Decorated swimmer Katie Ledecky is aiming to make her fourth-straight Olympic squad. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Swimming Trials begin this weekend, running from June 15th through June 23rd in Indianapolis, with Katie Ledecky eyeing her fourth-straight Summer Games.

While traditionally held in Omaha, Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, has been fitted with a 50-meter pool to host the meet that will determine the 2024 Paris Olympics roster.

All eyes will be on seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, who will be competing in the 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1500-meter freestyle — all events in which she’s been an Olympic champion. 

Rival Ariarne Titmus had her trials last week, breaking the world record in the 200-meter freestyle. Ledecky’s 200 is intended to qualify her for the Olympic relay. Meanwhile stateside, Katie Grimes stands to be a challenger in the 1500-meter freestyle has already qualified for the Paris Olympics in the 10km open water event.

Other competitors of note include 47-year-old Gabrielle Rose, who stands to become the oldest US Swimming Olympic qualifier in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke.

Additionally, Kate Douglass — an NCAA and World Champion — is a favorite to make her first Olympic team in the 200-meter IM and 200-meter breaststroke. Simone Manuel, an Olympic champion in the 100-meter freestyle, is also looking to make her third-straight Olympics.

Where to watch: The Trials will be streaming all week on Peacock, with later qualifying heats airing live on USA Network and event finals airing in primetime on NBC.

Orlando and Kansas City Shoot for 13 in NWSL Weekend Action

NWSL's T. Chawinga #6 of the Kansas City Current passes the ball during the first half of their game against the Utah Royals FC
The Kansas City Current hopes to extend its NWSL unbeaten streak to 13 with a win over Chicago. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

The 13th match weekend is fast approaching in the NWSL, with two season-long unbeaten streaks on the line.

League-leaders Kansas City and Orlando will attempt to survive the weekend with their unbeaten runs intact, as the Current host Chicago on Friday and the Pride travel to North Carolina for Saturday's match.

But while Kansas City and Orlando have been the gold standard this year, they're still a number of wins away from tying Washington's record for longest unbeaten streak in a single NWSL season. In 2021, the Spirit went 20 games without a loss en route to the club's first NWSL championship.

Both Gotham and Louisville are carrying momentum into their matchup on Saturday. Louisville is unbeaten in three games, and they’re looking to finally leapfrog Chicago and claim sixth place in the league standings. Gotham, on a seven-game unbeaten run, is into fifth place.

Portland and Seattle will face off in the Cascadia Clash this weekend, with Golden Boot contender Sophia Smith absent, as the decorated forward was shown a red card last weekend for time-wasting on the bench.

The Reign could use a win against their long-time rivals, as a difficult start has 13th-place Seattle registering only two wins amid nine losses so far this season.

Elsewhere in the league, 2024 expansion teams Bay FC and Utah meet for the first time this weekend, as both look to rise from the bottom half of the standings. And Washington will ride a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game against a San Diego side that's earned two hard-fought draws in recent weeks.

Watch more: "Sophia Smith is INNOCENT!" on The Late Sub with Claire Watkins

WNBA All-Star Voting Starts on June 13th

Phoenix Mercury mascot Scorch waving a 2024 WNBA All-Star flag at a 2023 home game.
Phoenix Mercury will host the 20th-annual All-Star Game on July 20th, 2024. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Voting for the 2024 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game opened at 2 PM ET today and runs through June 29th.

All active WNBA players are eligible to make the All-Star Game, set for July 20th in Phoenix. Unlike previous formats that featured two voted-in All-Star squads, this year’s contest pits a single All-Star team against the already-decided Olympic-bound USA Women’s National Team.

Fans can submit a daily ballot nominating up to 10 athletes via WNBA.com or the WNBA App.

Fan-submitted ballots account for 50% of vote, with the other 50% split equally between current WNBA players and members of the media. The top 10 athletes will automatically make the All-Star Game, with league coaches then voting from a pool of the next 36 to complete Team WNBA’s 12-player roster. The final lineup will be announced on July 2nd.

This year's All-Star Game format presents an opportunity for fans to vote for players they might consider Olympic snubs. Indiana rookie Caitlin Clark and Dallas’s Arike Ogunbawole seem like shoo-ins given the discussion surrounding their Olympic omissions, while Connecticut stars Brionna Jones and DeWanna Bonner are also expected to snag All-Star nods.

And after a career-high 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in last night’s 83-75 loss to the Sun, Chicago rookie Angel Reese could also secure a spot.

Regardless, it won't necessarily be smooth sailing for Team USA, as history has tended to favor the underdog. 

The first USA vs. All-Stars matchup took place in 2021, with the league’s squad humbling the Tokyo Olympians 93-85. With 26 points, Ogunbawole was named All-Star Game MVP after barely missing the Olympic cut. Could she and Clark turn the tables on Team USA this year?

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" by Expert Adjacent

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