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The Prospect Report: Days 1 and 2 at Nationals

The Prospect Report: Days 1 and 2 at Nationals

The Prospect Report: Recruiting Rumblings from USA Nationals Days 1+2

Mattea Saunders-Libero AZ Storm- Has been playing like one of the nation’s top liberos this week and college coaches continue to notice.  She is our highest remaining Libero PPV wise at 162 and is making plays while showing a high level of emotion on the court for one of the top 16s teams in the USA.

Hickman has big schools narrow in.  Sarah Hickman is the highest remaining overall PPV athlete.  With a 295 rating she is a prize for any class and so it should be no surprise the schools in the hunt are some very familiar programs.  You can look for Stanford, Wisconsin and possibly Texas to be potential finalists for the Houston Opposite.  Hickman hasn't named finalists, but those schools had a presence that past two days around her court. You can also expect her to not make any decision in the near future.  Hickman is set on taking her time and going on her official visits before deciding (good for her).  I had always thought of Stanford to be a great fit, simply because of the academic fit and that has always been of importance to the Texas star, but Wisconsin has been making a hard push and IF Texas is in the picture…..I mean it’s Texas.

Metro continues to be hot destination for coaches.  The Metro DC 16s court is still the most visited one in Vegas.  Three sought after pins are on the list of all the Top 20 programs.  The name that is the hottest is Bryah Breaux.  

Loved this quote today from a new Big Ten coach talking about a future recruit.  “We don’t need her to come in and play day 1.  She has time to come in and train and get stronger.  We didnt’ recruit her to play day one.  I hope our program is stronger than that.”  I love this because I think the perception is that 1 or 2 freak freshman play right away and everyone thinks that is what EVERY prospect is expected to do.  Remember these coaches are recruiting these 16 year olds to play when they are 20.

Penn State duo impressive.  I continue to like the high potential ceiling of Penn State 26 prospects Finley Krsystowiak and Danielle Whitmire.  It was on center stage Thursday when they faced off vs. each other and were the dominant players on the floor.  The Penn State staff has to believe both are ready to explode with a year plus of training in college.

Back to Hickman’s Houston Jr’s squad I really liked the game of OH Amaya Love (2026) PPV 106 and Setter Zora Bello PPV 208.  We have talked about Bello several times and I think her setting game gets better each time she steps in a gym.  Love is kid that I think colleges take a look at long-term.  She is playing in big-time volleyball matches and I think her play has steadily increased all season.  She was very big in a three set W today vs AZ Storm and made some clutch plays opposite Hickman.  

Yesterday we tweeted about taking the eye-test to determine the Top 5 2026 recruiting classes so far and here is what we came up with…..

  1. Texas:  Henley is the best player and looks like it.  Harris is the best setter in country and plays with confidence.  Cugino is solid.  I really like Burley, but Emma is very good and as I asked around I was told how well she plays in big matches (aka packed arenas and final fours)
  2. Pitt: Listen the name I kept hearing was Ayanna Watson (and I agree) I had a couple schools said “she’s the one that really stung for us, we wanted her bad”.  The other piece to this class is her teammate Trinity Thompson could push for some early playing time at a couple spots.  If you wouldn’t have come in knowing you might have had to confirm that she wasn’t the Top 5 prospect she looked very good.

  1. Wisconsin:  Maybe not why Badger fans think.  I thought that Carolyn Tarnow was a force and then I just thought that Cali sensation Audrey Flanagan.  When I watched she just screams “High College Ceiling”.  I think she’s the difference.

  1. Nebraska: This class is a risk/reward class for me.  I don’t go by the other people “rankings’ I go off of others evaluations.  Also, Nebraska will always get the the 1st or 2nd choice they want at any position so their class should look amazing each year.   I just think the jury is more split on a couple of these commits than on some other classes.  But, they also have two of the highest potential commits in the country so it’s all how you want to look at that.  

  1. Indiana: Now this is going to always be my kind of class so I could have put them #1 I will always love watching “grinder” and athletes that play with high emotion.  This is my class.  I can watch the Mintonette combo Matheny/Snowbarger all day.  Day 1 was the first time I was really able to lock in and watch Ellie Hepler and yeah that’s another kid that could be in my program.  I’ve said it before I have a lot of respect for Indiana is doing because 1. It IS NOT EASY in the Big Ten people 2. They are sticking to a very specific plan and they are beating some rivals out for some big Ws on the recruiting trail.

Programs that are HOT:

**Some programs with some heat in the recruiting world right now…..

  1. Michigan State
  2. Auburn
  3. LSU
  4. Washington

Reasons for the EARLY Commits:  I have been asked or told many opinions about WHY all of the early commitments this year and like with most things my opinion isn’t needed here so I did what I do best……started asking the prospects.

I don’t know if this will be surprising or not, but what I did find was that a LARGE % (approx 40% that committed week 1) did so because they were given a strict timeline by a college coach. 2) Dream School i.e. “I knew I always wanted to go there 3) FOMO they thought they wouldn’t get another offer so they took an offer quickly rather than waiting to take visits, etc.

This wasn’t surprising as I was hearing of all the athletes that were being given hard deadlines, but is was disappointing as many coaches are the ones complaining about the process and the “quick decisions” and then they maybe exactly the same ones forcing kids into 12 hour, 1 day, etc timelines.

Questions coming about PPV:

Great convos being had about our PPV this week.  Had an SEC coach with the following quote “at first I didn’t understand, but now it’s perfect because that is exactly how we recruit.  We don’t recruit #1, #2 etc.  we recruit on ability levels.  Different levels don’t mean they can’t play here or there they simply mean one may be more ready immediately and one may need 2-3 years training or to grow more etc.  Totally get it now and it’s exactly how we group our prospects.”

Darren Tipton