Now that Washington’s new head coach Tina Langley has secured four of the five original 2021 recruits, it has stabilized the program such that the Huskies do not need to scramble to find multiple players for next season.
Coach Langley now knows she has four legitimate rotation players from the incoming 2021 class that can make immediate contributions, i.e., Jess Finney, Avery Van Sickle, Marisa Davis and Olivia Pollerd.
As we discussed in a previous article, the Huskies still need a veteran point guard and frontcourt player for this season, both of which could come from the NCAA Transfer Portal.
Much more alarming is a worst case scenario where none of the four players that entered the NCAA Transfer Portal return –i.e., Tameiya Sadler (Colorado), Quay Miller (Colorado), Haley Van Dyke(unknown/undecided) and Nia Lowery (unknown/undecided)– because the current projected 2022 roster for the Washington Huskies is seven or eight scholarship players at best:
Jess Finney, Avery Van Sickle, Marisa Davis, Olivia Pollerd, Alexis Whitfield, TT Watkins, Darcy Rees, Callie Lind — and possibly Jayda Noble (current status unknown) and Grace Beasley (current status unknown).
Washington not fielding a full 2022 roster is unfathomable.
A team’s depth of talent is a deciding factor in the PAC-12 race for the vaunted top third of the conference, where NCAA Tournament bids are most likely the reward.
For the Huskies, that factor alone puts a focus on recruiting the Class of 2022 and securing at least two players for the 2022-2023 season.
Although time is seemingly running out on securing 2022 recruits, a quick overview of the ESPN Top 60 recruits for 2022 shows that only twenty of the top players are listed as verbally committed to a school.
Thus, with 40 of the “ESPN Top 60” 2002 players listed as undecided, there are still plenty of high major targets available.
Even more encouraging, nine (9) of the Top 60 players are from within the PAC-12’s footprint of western states — i.e., Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, California, Arizona and Nevada.
Another possibly significant advantage for UW’s recruiting, 2022 ESPN Top 60 player Jennah Isai (ranked #26) played high school basketball, and won Arizona state basketball championships, with incoming UW 2021 commit Marisa Davis.
Overall, the Washington Women’s Basketball program must be smart about which players it is targeting for 2022.
Spending recruiting resources on 2022 players that will not significantly impact the program is not a luxury the Huskies can afford.
This means no “public relations” recruits, i.e., signing a player that is a Washington product just for some perceived community goodwill that will ultimately lead right back to the Huskies finishing in the PAC-12’s bottom three.
Programs, like Washington, that are struggling with a talent deficit must galvanize their resources to recruit program-changing five-star players, while not letting 4-star high-major players slip away.
To use a mixed metaphor, UW should recruit excellence but can’t afford to push all their chips to the middle of the table for a dream player.
Washington’s 2021 recruiting class is a perfect example of this.
For a struggling program, securing four 2021 4-star recruits (originally five, until A.J. Marotte decommitted) outweighs one 2021 5-star, such as Oregon State freshman Talia Van Olhoeffen.
It would be great to see a talented Washington product like Van Olhoeffen in a Husky uniform, however, she couldn’t singlehandedly turn around the Huskies program.
The incoming 2021 class provides multiple immediate boosts to an ailing UW program.
The Huskies are well-positioned to continue building upon their recent recruiting success.
Coach Langley has shown an energetic, go-getter attitude that belies her 18+ years in the coaching business.
Langley also made huge progress in successfully recruiting Katie Faulkner, former Oregon State assistant coach, to Montlake.
Faulkner is known for having a positive, energetic and upbeat personality, particularly in recruiting.
As a result, it is possible Washington could get a short-term recruiting bump with the change in Huskies women’s basketball leadership.
Recruiting impact players with the vision of being a major cog in re-building a successful UW program could appeal to some players sense of personal legacy.
Regardless, Washington’s dilemma of a non-existent Class of 2022 must be addressed.
It is likely time for the Huskies to re-visit some players that showed past interest, such as 6’7″ big Kennedy Basham of Arizona.
Kennedy Basham is rated the No. 28 player and No. 6 post in the ESPN Top 100 for the 2022 class.
Basham recently narrowed her school finalists to Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, UCLA, Louisville and Duke.
Considering four of her final schools of interest are PAC-12 programs, Coach Langley may want to attempt to re-recruit Basham.
Coach Langley’s hand in the development of 6’9″ Nancy Mulkey at Rice may be compelling.
Basham is more athletic and versatile than Mulkey, so Langley should describe a role with the Huskies that more closely resembles the inside-outside game of Oregon’s Sedona Prince — minus the logjam of frontcourt players to compete for playing time.
Brumfield has always been an intriguing prospect because she demonstrates inside-outside versatility. However, whether she is a PAC-12 prospect may come down to her athleticism.
Expect that Langley (and recruiting coordinator Katie Faulkner) will make their own evaluation of Brumfield.
Speaking of UW’s Coach Faulkner, there are certainly 2022 prospects that Faulkner had scouted on behalf of the OSU Beavers.
One such recruit is 6’2″ guard/wing Lily Hansford, an undecided 2022 recruit from Wisconsin that Oregon State was/is recruiting.
Also, keep in mind that Tina Langley certainly must have evaluated and recruited PAC-12 caliber players in Texas that she may not have landed for Rice, but could possibly garner recruits’ interest at Washington.
In order to address Washington’s future roster needs, the Huskies must make some headway in 2022 recruiting class soon.
I would expect the Huskies’ 2022 recruiting class to start coming into focus this summer, during the summer circuit recruiting period.