But early recruiting doesn’t discriminate. In 2014, Miami called the parents of a 9-year-old girl who was excelling at the high school level. And around that same time, Maryland women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese offered a scholarship to a sixth-grader. (Formal written offers can’t be given until Aug. 1 before a recruit’s senior year of high school.)
It was, of course, no regular sixth-grader. Azzi Fudd, a Northern Virginia native who’s now a freshman star for St. John’s College High (D.C.), “may already be the best high school player in the country,” one anonymous local coach told The Washington Post. She made the under-16 U.S. national team as a 14-year-old. She’s already drawn comparisons to Maya Moore, her favorite player.
And she was a little clueless when Frese told her she had a place in Maryland’s program in ... 2021. “Thank you?” Fudd recalled saying, to ESPN, during her meeting in Frese’s office. She later acknowledged that she was unsure of the offer’s significance.
It was a preview of things to come. Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw had lunch with her in South Bend, Ind. Conneticut coach Geno Auriemma dropped in for a workout this fall at St. John’s. A highlight reel of her play with Team USA already has thousands of views on YouTube.
“She is, without question, a player that comes along once every 20 years, maybe," St. John’s coach Jonathan Scribner told ESPN last month.