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Women’s college basketball recruiting – Best scorer, best leaper and more superlatives

As women’s college basketball enters the July club evaluation period, we want to highlight some of the recruits who stand out in certain categories.

Who is the best pure scorer? The best passer? The best ballhandler?

Each of these players are outstanding in their own right regarding different aspects of the game. But are they the absolute best? We pick superlatives for various prospects.

Best passer/facilitator

F Montaya Dew
2023 espnW 100 ranking: 9
Centennial High School (Nev.) | Vegas Bulldogs
Committed to: Arizona

It’s easy to get caught up in point guards’ dynamic ballhandling and long-range shooting, but in the new era of spacing and small ball, more hybrid players are emerging as facilitators. Early on, Dew’s pass-first mentality was evident, then it almost became a liability when she wasn’t as aggressive of a scorer. Her de ella 6-foot-2 size de ella allows her to come off of ball screens and see the whole floor as a point-forward type, which causes mismatches in opposing personnel and defensive rotations. She reads defenses well and knows which option to attack. What’s more, she has adjusted her approach to her, and she is not afraid to shoot and make plays herself. A good passing big is extremely valuable at the next level, as it allows quick guards to make plays without the ball in their hands and provides much more spacing for defenders to have to cover.

Honorable mentions: W Madison Booker (2023 No. 15), PG Madisen McDaniel (2024 No. 8)

best scorer

G Judea Watkins
2023 espnW 100 ranking: 2
Sierra Canyon High School (Calif.) | Cal Swish Sports Academy GBL

Both Watkins is making a strong case for the No. 1 ranking in the 2023 class. Watkins has tightened up every aspect of her game on both ends. If a shot needs to be created, there isn’t a better player than Watkins who can take the ball and make a play. She has improved her quickness and creating extremely well off the dribble. Her 3-ball de ella is more consistent and she is one of the best at drawing contact and heading to the free throw line, a sign of any great scorer. After her appearance by her at USA Basketball trials was sensational. She will choose from among any school in the country for her college experience.

Honorable mentions: G Taliah Scott (2023 No. 13), G Zoe Brooks (2023 No. 33, NC State commit)

best defender

G Mikaylah Williams
2023 espnW 100 ranking: 1
Parkway High School (La.) | Mavs Elite Strong
Committed to: LSU

As talented as Watkins is, Williams still sits at the top spot. A physically gifted multi-sport star, the LSU commit puts so much pressure on opposing ball handlers and is able to body up and be physical when necessary. She is good off the ball rebounding defensively, challenging passing lanes and bumping cutters. Williams has the ability to match up with any opposing team’s No. 1 scorer to get a stop. While the Watkins-Williams battle for the No. 1 spot will play out through the fall and winter, they will be teammates in July’s U17 World Cup.

honorable mention: G Kaniya Boyd (2024 No. 32)

Best jumper/leaper

G Jadyn Donovan
2023 espnW 100 ranking: 3
Sidwell Friends (DC) | Team Takeover

Donovan can fly, and that might not do her superb physical ability justice. There is a photo from December’s Capital Invitational in which she essentially recreates the Jumpman pose. There’s a viral video of her attempting a breakaway dunk at the Atlantic City Showcase since this past May. The 6-foot Donovan can catch lobs in the back of a zone or have a LeBron James-esque chase-down block. Donovan is a leaper in a category of her own.

honorable mention: F Toby Fournier (2024 No. 15)

best shooter

G Allie Ziebell
2024 espnW 60 ranking: 9
Neenah High School (Wisc.) | WI Flight

The first thing that comes to mind when discussing shooters is the long range, and Ziebell has that. For our money right now, we would call her number de ella out of a timeout to knock down a 3. She can pull up with a jumper and also finish well at the rim when defenders close out. What truly separates her is that she knows when to get rid of the ball and she is ready to relocate on the floor for a potent catch-and-shoot opportunity. Ziebell is being heavily recruited by every major conference.

Honorable mentions: W Riley Nelson (2023 No. 29, Maryland commit), G Kymora Johnson (2023 No. 30), W Courtney Ogden (2023 No. 12, Stanford commit)

best rebounder

W Kennedy Smith
2024 espnW 60 ranking: 18
Etiwanda High School (Calif.) | Cal Sparks

Strong rebounders need to be determined and physical, in constant pursuit of the ball and have a high motor on both ends of the floor while crashing the glass. Smith checks all those boxes. She impacts the game in a major way from her intensity and physicality alone as she gets defensive deflections, secures loose balls or snatches rebounds. She led the first Nike EYBL stop in rebounding at 11 per game. Her recruitment of her includes all major conferences.

honorable mention: W Kendall Dudley (2024 No. 4)

best ball handler

PG Kiyomi McMiller
2024 espnW 60 ranking: 7
Trinity Collegiate School (SC) | NEPA Elite

Hype around McMiller’s talent dates back to her elementary school days. She caught eyes of some national evaluators and local coaches while participating in some individual showcases in the DMV area. She was adept at handling the ball with confidence from the get-go. She breaks down defenders with her handle, footwork and the ability to change tempos on a dime. She has the ball on a string like a yo-yo and keeps defenses at bay with her ability to nail shots from well beyond the arc.

Honorable mentions: PG Angelica Velez (2023 No. 36), PG Jaloni Cambridge (2024 No. 2), PG Hannah Hidalgo (2023 No. 5)

Most intense

W Sahara Williams
2023 espnW 100 ranking: 20
Waterloo West (Iowa) | All Iowa Attack
Committed to: Oklahoma

Sahara Williams has an outstanding energy to her in every possession. On a regular basis, she fiercely drives to the rim, goes for rebounds and defends on the ball. Basketball is a game of playmaking and intensity, and Williams is imperative to setting the tone for her team.

Honorable mentions: G Ashlynn Shade (2023 No. 6, UConn commit), KK Arnold (2023 No. 7, UConn commit)

best leader

PG Jada Williams
2023 espnW 100 ranking: 20
La Jolla Country Day (Calif.) | Cal Stars
Committed to: UCLA

In a highlight-driven culture, intangibles can be overlooked. Williams has proven to be a leader inside the locker room whether at La Jolla Country Day, her club program or with USA Basketball — and surely when she steps on the court as a UCLA Bruin. On the floor, she has an ability to energize others through consistency and in verbally celebrating her teammates’ successes. Players seem drawn to her in the gym. Williams reportedly already has some NIL deals, and she is utilizing that platform with her peers to grow future opportunities.

Honorable mentions: PG Victoria Flores (2023 No. 80), W Sammie Wagner (2023 No. 23), W S’mya Nichols (2023 No. 21), G Oluchi Okanawa (2023)

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