Recruiting news for the Kentucky Women’s Basketball team hasn’t been as prevalent as it should be, so we’re going to change that right now.
Head coach Matthew Mitchell has established the Wildcat program as a consistent SEC contender over the last decade-plus and he shows no signs of slowing down. With reigning SEC Player of the Year Rhyne Howard as the centerpiece for the next two seasons, Kentucky’s recognition within the national media is going to skyrocket. The future of the program is incredibly bright, even after Howard eventually graduates and makes her way to the WNBA.
Mitchell has built a culture within the program that his players buy into and the top prospects in the high school ranks are taking notice. John Calipari and the Men’s team have controlled the recruiting news since he arrived back in 2009 but the Women’s team has been killing it, as well.
After some of my own research and talking with a couple of people far more plugged in than I am, I was able to gather a reliable list of high school players that Mitchell and company have extended offers to. In total, I found 28 young ladies who have received offers from UK, ranging from the class of 2021 all the way to the class of 2025 (yes, Kentucky has offered a rising 8th grader from Shelby County, KY). There are surely more out there–and I’ll make sure to find them– but for now, this what I have. To help slowly acquaint everyone, I’m going to break the players down by class, starting with the upcoming 2021.
Currently, Kentucky only has one commitment for the class of 2021–four-star point guard Jada Walker–but there are another five prospects who are considering the ‘Cats after receiving offers in the past. Let’s check out who they are, starting with the top-ranked prospects.
Damiya Hagemann: 5-foot-7 (PG) – 5-star
Damiya Hagemann is the top-ranked prospect left on Kentucky’s offer list for the class of 2021. ESPN has her tabbed as the 19th overall player and the fifth-best point guard in the country. Back on June 5, she trimmed her list of potential colleges down to seven, with the ‘Cats making the cut along with other powerhouse Women’s programs such as Louisville and Mississippi State.
— Deedee (@ballin_deedee35) June 5, 2020
The Michigan native is a lightning-quick guard who loves to push the tempo–a key trait for any Matthew Mitchell backcourt player. MichiganLive ranked Hagemann as the top-ranked player in the class of 2021 from the state of Michigan and she’s widely expected to compete for Miss Basketball in 2021. Over the last two seasons, her high school, Detroit Edison, became the first-ever program in the state with back-to-back Miss Basketball winners (Rickea Jackson in 2018 and Gabrielle Elliot in 2019). Hagemann has a legitimate shot to make it an unprecedented three in a row for the school.
Hagemann averaged 12.1 points, 7.3 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and 3.0 steals per game as a junior. She would be an immediate impact player for Kentucky who could come in and start on day one.
“Elusive floor-leader handles, pushes tempo under control and distributes with flair and precision; displays a scorer’s mentality in the back court, deep 3-point range threat; sneaky, pesky defender; continues to impress as a coveted point-guard in the class of 2021.” – Dan Olson, ESPN (2020).
O’Mariah Gordon: 5-foot-4 (PG) – 5-star
Just a bit below Hagemann is another highly-touted, five-star point guard, O’Mariah Gordon, who hails from Bradenton, FL. ESPN has her listed as the 33rd overall player in the country and eighth-best at her position.
Gordon has picked up interest from an impressive group of schools, including Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, and North Carolina, along with the ‘Cats. She’s another shifty ball-handler who makes up for her lack of height with incredible speed, the ability to shoot from all areas of the floor, and fancy distributing. Gordon’s intensity on defense falls in line with what Mitchell is looking for in terms of applying backcourt pressure.
After her sophomore season at Braden River High School, Gordon was tabbed as the Gatorade Player of the Year down in Florida after putting up insane averages of 29.7 points, 6.8 assists, 6.6 rebounds, and a mind-blowing 5.3 steals per outing. In her junior season, she would become a back-to-back Gatorade Player of the Year award winner after averaging 23.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 4.2 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.
Jet-quick playmaker with a scoring punch; manufactures shots, delivers off the dribble in mid-range game, slices through the defense and gets to the rim with regularity; knocks down jumpers with range to the arc; a coast-to-coast threat, pressure the defense. – Dan Olson, ESPN (2020).
Grace Hall: 6-foot-2 (F) – 4-star
The only post player to make this list is Grace Hall from Illinois. While ESPN doesn’t have a page for her, Prospects Nation has her ranked as the 42nd best player in the class of 2021 and the 12th best forward (Max Preps lists her as the sixth-best player out of Illinois). Hall initially received her offer from Kentucky back September of 2019, right around the same time her recruitment started to take off. She’s also been extended offers from Illinois (way back in 2017), Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio State, and Virginia among several others. An impressive stint in the AAU circuit last summer boosted her notoriety.
Hall took a trip to Lexington last October.
— Grace Hall (@Grace_hall30) October 19, 2019
Near the end of her junior season at Homewood-Flossmoor High School–and just before the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States– Hall had to undergo ACL surgery on her right knee. However, she could be ready to go for her senior year depending on when/if that actually happens. Before the injury, she was posting roughly 16 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks per game.
Hall’s position on paper is at forward, but she can easily slide over to the wing and stretch the floor. She has a dangerous outside shot with a quick release for someone who is 6-foot-2 and her defense translates to beyond the perimeter, as well. Her potential as a two-way player who can stretch the floor while defending inside and out makes her a prospect to keep an eye on going forward.
“Different face up moves inside…Nice step out jumper off the bounce…Physical tools has been catching eyes for years…Can hit a three…With handles and shot improving could live on the wing…Good foot fight in the post…Will work to 3/4 deny” – Travis Ponton, Bluestar Media (2019)
2021 6’2 F Grace Hall saw her stock ? playing up on the @GirlsUAA Circuit this Summer. Looking forward to seeing that continue as she puts in tons of work this year. Next Year should be an exciting one for the kid! #Wolfpack? #ExampleStrong. B. pic.twitter.com/O8YSG304Ev
— Barry Bradford (@barrybradford3) August 8, 2019
Se’Quoia Allmond: 5-foot-7 (PG) – unranked
Now we’re going to get into the two under-the-radar recruits, starring with Se’Quoia Allmond, who recently announced that she would play her senior season at Royal Crown Academic School all the way up in Toronto. Allmond played her first three high school seasons with Whitehaven High School out of Memphis, TN but has elected to go the prep school route–as many up-and-coming prospects do–before making the leap to college.
— Se'Quoia Allmond?. (@901SLA_) October 12, 2019
As a junior at Whitehaven, Allmond was the lead guard for a team that finished 27-3 and made it all the way to the Class AAA State Semifinals for the first time in school history. Unfortunately, she and her teammate’s season was ultimately canceled due to the coronavirus before they could advance deeper into the state tournament. She averaged 12.3 points per game as a junior and Max Preps has her tabbed as the sixth-best player in the state of Tennessee. Allmond is also receiving interest from Louisville and Ole Miss.
Allmond has a couple of inches on the point guards listed above but that doesn’t mean she isn’t as fast. Quick bursts of speed combined with adept ball-handling skills make her an ideal fit for almost any roster. She has shown the ability to knock down outside shots but she makes her living by penetrating to the rim and either getting up a shot or dishing it to a cutting teammate.
Madison Royal-Davis: 5-foot-11 (W) – unranked
Capping off our list of 2021 recruits is Madison Royal-Davis out of Toldeo Christian School in Ohio. Her recruitment is still on the rise, as her offer sheet includes some lower-level programs such as Toldeo, Butler, Bowling Green, and Western Kentucky. However, in an article posted by Steve Junga of the Toldeo Blade, Royal-Davis told him that she was receiving interest from the likes of Ohio State, Clemson, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, and Marquette, among others. Kentucky offered her back in December of 2019.
Royal-Davis actually transferred to Toldeo Christian this past season, despite winning back-to-back Divison II state championships at her previous school, Rogers Senior High School. She posted monster numbers as a junior, averaging 28.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 6.0 steals, and 3.7 blocks per game on her way to being named Ohio’s Division IV Player of the Year.
Playing as more of a combo guard/wing at 5-foot-11, Royal-Davis can make an impact on offense in many ways. She has impressive range with the deep ball and can comfortably take the ball to the rim. Back in January, she apparently set the school record for most points in a single game with 43.
Considering Kentucky has already added a highly-ranked point guard to this class, the thought of adding one of Hagemann or Gordon (or even Allmond or Roayl-Davis) might be a bit redundant. However, with Chasity Patterson expected to graduate at the end of next year, the point guard position will need some filling out. Having too much talent is always a good problem to have.
Overall, Mitchell doesn’t appear to be hellbent on putting together a top-10 or -15 class for 2021 (although he could always find a way to add an unexpected player), but with a good reason why: the transfers will be eligible for the 2021-22 season.
Jazmine Massengill, Robyn Benton, and Olivia Owens all transferred to Kentucky in the past several months but are expected to sit out the coming season due to the NCAA’s transfer rules. Once they become eligible for the 2021-22 season, the ‘Cats will have one of the most talented rosters in program history, regardless of who else they add until then. It’s the recruiting class of 2022 where the staff is really gunning for the top-ranked players; UK has already offered 14 recruits from the class of 2022 who are either four-star or five-star prospects. We’ll have a post breaking them all down in the very near future.