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Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Cardinal Couple -- Wrapping up 2014


( Jenny O'Bryan takes a look at basketball recruiting in today's edition of CARDINAL COUPLE!)

The basketball coaching staff is fanning out across the country in what is the last recruiting period for the class of 2014 before the early signing period.   The staff is visiting and making in-home visits with 2014 verbal commits as well as the remaining student athletes that the staff is targeting, trying to wrap up the 2014 class. 

It looks like there are likely 4 remaining targets for the Cardinals.  Most of these names are familiar, although one is a relative newcomer to being on my radar (though that does not at all mean that she is new to the staff).  

The recruiting period opened on Monday, September 9 and Coach Walz was in Oregon.  Seems Oregon is a familiar place for this staff, and is the former home of Coach Stephanie Norman.  However, in this busy last cycle of recruiting, there was no time for reminiscing.  Coach Walz was in Oregon to visit Jaime Nared a 6-1 versatile wing/forward.

Just for context, Nared is likely familiar to Cardinal fans as she is the former teammate of 2 past Louisville recruits Jordan Reynolds and Mercedes Russell (both TN freshman).  Nared has her own star power though.  From a basketball family, Nared has been playing the game since she was a youngster.  Early on she played on  an all boys AAU  team, for two years, before she was banned from the league for being “too good”.   It was at this point, at the age of 12 that she started to learn the women’s game, and she is still growing evolving as an elite athlete. 

What would Nared bring to Louisville squad already loaded with wings?    This said her coach:

"Jaime is the best reader and anticipator on defense that I've ever coached, at any level," said Abraham, who has coached in high school, college and the WNBA. "Lisa Leslie, Chamique Holdsclaw, all the great ones that I've been lucky enough to be around, nobody does it better than she does."    (Jerry Ulmer, The Oregonian)

Nared has worked a lot on her pull up jumper and is said to have transformed her game even from where she was just this past year.  While a home visit did occur this past Monday, to date I have not heard of an official visit scheduled.  She has recently visited Ohio State and UCLA.  Tennessee is expecting a visit in the coming weeks.  Let’s hope Louisville gets the chance to woo her on campus and at the KFC YUM Center. 

While on the west coast Walz likely did a home visit with Mariya Moore who has already verbally committed to play with Louisville.  Rounding out the west coast trip was likely a visit with (new to my radar) Kristen Simon. 

The 6-1 Simon is a post player who plays AAU ball at the same club as Moore (can’t hurt, right?).   Her final 5 of schools is Louisville, Ohio State, CAL, Southern Cal and Texas.    Simon is an exciting prospect as she is a big who likes to bang around in the paint.  She is described as big and mobile, an efficient low-block insider, finisher in the paint, rebounder deluxe with a physical interior game.  Sounds like just what the doctor ordered, right?  I have yet to see Emmonnie Henderson (current freshman) on the court, but the thought of two very strong, physical players in the paint is an exciting prospect.  Currently I do not have an official visit date listed for Simon. 

It seems we have been talking about Victoria Vivians at Cardinal Couple for some time now.    Vivians is another wing player out of Forest, MS.  Her narrowed list of four includes Louisville, Kentucky, Mississippi State, and Florida. 

Vivians  is described as long and athletic with a 3 phase offensive attack.  She can step out and shoot the 3, pull up in the mid range and finish at the rim.   Vivians has a great motor and is very fast in the open court and can change direction at full speed.  Vivians is a scorer and will bring an incredible offensive threat to the YUM Center should she decide on Louisville. 

Lastly, at least for the targets in the early signing period, is Dekeiya Cohen.  Cohen is a 6-2 combo forward out of Charleston, South Carolina.  Her top list of schools includes Louisville, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Notre Dame and South Carolina.   Cohen will be on campus this weekend for an official visit. 

Cohen is described as an “energy package in the paint”.  She is a very strong rebounder and equally as strong as a shot blocker.  She is a “scary good” athlete who is said to have a very high athletic ceiling.    Cohen is able to break down defenders, finish consistently with contact and is said to be physical and active on the glass.  She is quick to exploit mismatches and competes on both ends of the floor. 

For those interested, rankings are available on all of these athletes.  However, I have chosen to not dwell on that.  One thing this past season has taught me is that rankings do not matter.  Walz has proven that he is masterful at getting the most out of his players, regardless of rank.  I would venture to say that he gets more out of “less ranked” kids than some coaches get out of their All-Americans. 

Just how many of these remaining targets Walz will accept, if given the opportunity, is anybody’s guess.   It is a wealth of diverse strengths, offensively and defensively, in the paint and on the wing.  Any number of these young women would strengthen and diversify an already excellent class of Moore, Brackemyer, Hines-Allen and Freeman. 

I am all-in when it comes to the mad scientist and I am all-in and ready for this season to get started!

-Jenny O'Bryan


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