Going to back-to-back Final Fours does wonders for recruiting.
Despite losing in the NCAA semifinals each of the past two seasons, the Maryland women's basketball team bolstered its chances of going to the Final Four several more times in the next few years by signing the No. 1 recruiting class in the country Wednesday. After twice assembling the No. 2 class in the country, in 2007 and 2010, this marks the first time Brenda Frese has the top class.
Frese, who has had 11 top-10 classes in her 14 seasons at Maryland, signed six players, four of them ranked in the top 28. The Terps are the only team with more than three players in the top 30.
Destiny Slocum, a 5-foot-7 point guard from Meridien, Idaho, who averaged 25.1 points, 5.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds as a junior, is the No. 7 prospect in the country. Jenna Staiti, a 6-6 center from Cumming, Ga., who averaged 29 points and 16 rebounds as a junior, is ranked No. 17 overall and the third-best post player in the country. Kaila Charles, a 5-11 wing from Glendale, is No. 25 nationally and Blair Watson, a 6-0 wing from Nutley, N.J., is No. 28.
The Terps also signed Stephanie Jones, a 6-2 forward from Havre de Grace (Aberdeen) who is the younger sister of current Terps star Brionna Jones, and Sarah Myers, a 5-10 guard who is also from Cumming, Ga., and plays for one of Staiti's local rivals.
"Overall this is one of the most elite classes we have signed in my time at Maryland," Frese said in a statement. "It is a class that has firepower in every position. Every piece, every single player fits in the overall scheme of what we want to bring here to Maryland to help us continue to win championships. Each player comes from a terrific family and every single player knows how to win. This class was at least three years in the making, so I can't thank the various staff members enough for all of the work they put in on it from start to finish. The future of Maryland women's basketball is in great hands."
Slocum is the first player from Idaho that Frese has ever signed.
"Our fans are going to love the flair and energy that Destiny plays with," Frese said in a statement. "She is a winner through and through. She won her first gold medal with USA Basketball this past summer and led her high school team to its first-ever state championship as well. She can do it all. … Loves to pass first, can score, defend and has a really high IQ. She is a true elite point guard, which is the single-hardest player to land in our sport. She is going to be a joy to watch for the next four years."
Jones will be following her sister to College Park. Ranked 51st in the country by ESPN, Jones helped Aberdeen to an Class 3A state title as a freshman and again last season, averaging 17 points and 9.3 rebounds as a junior.
"It's a pleasure to add another Jones sibling in Stephanie to the Maryland family," Frese said in the statement. "It only makes sense and what a terrific experience with her family and to play along [with] her big sister, Brionna. Stephanie is another player that comes in and only knows how to win after leading her high school team Aberdeen to a state championship title in her career. Stephanie can play inside and out and handle the ball. She is a tremendous competitor that is going to do all of the little intangible things to help a team accomplish great things."