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Recruiting roundup: Duke women's basketball looks to fill voids through freshmen and transfers

Head coach Kara Lawson is in the process of building the program in her image, which means a lot of action on the recruiting trail.
Head coach Kara Lawson is in the process of building the program in her image, which means a lot of action on the recruiting trail.

The Blue Devils have been out of action since canceling the remainder of the regular season in December, and the coaching staff has been hard at work on the recruiting front since. Here are a few key players that Duke has been keeping an eye on, from high schoolers to transfers:

Class of 2021

Duke’s incoming freshman class remains just Lee Volker, the combo guard from Purcellville, Va. According to ESPN, Volker is a three-star recruit and the 43rd ranked player at her position, although she is unranked when it comes to the overall list.

Transfers

Many outside the program are expecting the Blue Devils to add some outside experience to the 2021-22 roster, and if recent departures are any indication, such additions could be intended to jump-start the team into contention. And with over 400 players in the transfer portal, there’s certainly talent to be found out there.

IImar’I Thomas, a point forward from Cincinnati, headlines the options available. Ranking seventh nationwide in win shares this season, per Her Hoop Stats, and first in adjusted RAPM, the grad transfer should not only be one of the most impactful transfers in recent history, but should be expected to add to her next team’s list of alumni in the WNBA. Other impact veterans on the market include Miami big Brianna Jackson, Wisconsin forward and 2020 second-team All-Big Ten Imani Lewis, Mississippi State stretch big Sidney Cooks and Texas Tech wing Lexi Gordon. 

If head coach Kara Lawson and company are targeting youth, as they did with former Louisville wing Nyah Green, a 2019 five-star recruit already enrolled in Durham, there’s a number of names to watch. Notre Dame freshman  guard Alasia Hayes, the No. 44 player in the class of 2020, stands out, as does Danae McNeal, a Clemson guard who ranked No. 48 in the class of 2019.

Class of 2022

We are in the dead period of recruiting—when the top prospects have finished making top-10 and top-five lists, but are still some weeks away from declaring. Since our recruiting feature in November, No. 30 Brianna McDaniel has trimmed Duke from her list—on account of her passion for veterinary workbut the Blue Devils have appeared as finalists for South Dakota wing Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda and Phoenix center Kennedy Basham, who ranked No. 24 and No. 28 according to ESPN, respectively.

As of today, Duke is a finalist for seven top-50 recruits, in addition to four-stars Ashlon Jackson and Shay Bollin, who have already committed. The 2022-23 Blue Devils could feature anything between a historic level of young talent or merely a very good freshman class, but at this point, Duke sits fourth in ASGR’s most recent class rankings.

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