Lincoln - A five-player recruiting class with each ranked among the top 25 nationally by ESPN at their position has earned the Nebraska women’s basketball program its best recruiting class ranking in school history for the Class of 2014.
Tennessee Class 2-AA Player of the Year Jasmine Cincore, Kansas Class 4A Player of the Year Kaylee Page, California prep stars Natalie Romeo and Darrien Washington, and Washington High School standout Chandler Smith are all expected to join Coach Connie Yori’s Huskers as freshmen in 2014-15 after signing National Letters of Intent in the past week.
Nebraska’s class was ranked No. 16 nationally by ESPN, before the addition of Smith. The 6-0 guard from Washington signed her letter of intent Monday, after being ranked as the No. 62 player in the nation by ESPN. Her addition could propel the Huskers upward in the recruit rankings for 2014 later this week. Page and Romeo also headline the Husker class. The 6-2 Page was ranked No. 42 nationally by ESPN, while Romeo was No. 55. Romeo, a 5-7 point guard from the Bay Area in California, has been ranked as high as No. 27 nationally by one recruiting service and as the No. 6 point guard in the country.
Romeo’s club teammate, the 6-2 Washington, was ranked as the No. 16 post player in the nation by ESPN, while Cincore was ranked as ESPN’s No. 24 point guard in the 2014 class, despite being projected as a combo guard for the Huskers.
“We are excited about the potential of this recruiting class, and we hope all five players have outstanding senior seasons in high school this year,” Yori said. “We have built quite a bit of momentum in recruiting the past few years and this class is part of it.”
Overall, Nebraska’s current No. 16 national ranking eclipses NU’s previous top recruiting class, which came with the Huskers’ current junior class of Emily Cady, Hailie Sample, Tear’a Laudermill and Brandi Jeffery, which was ranked No. 24 nationally in November of 2010.
Nebraska’s five-player class will be expected to replace the loss of Jordan Hooper, a two-time All-American who is the only senior on the Huskers’ 11-player roster in 2013-14.
Page, a 6-2 senior at Wamego High School in Kansas, was ranked as the No. 13 wing/shooting guard nationally by ESPN. She averaged 20.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.3 blocked shots, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game as a junior. A gifted shooter, Page knocked down 57 three-pointers for the Red Raiders in 2012-13. She helped Wamego to the Kansas Class 4A state championship while playing for her father, Jim Page, who was the Kansas Coach of the Year.
Romeo, ESPN’s No. 12 point guard nationally as a four-year starter at Carondelet High School in California, averaged 21.4 points, 6.7 assists and 6.3 steals per game as a junior to help the Cougars to the North Coast Section Division II title for the third consecutive season. Along the way, she earned East Bay Athletic League MVP and Nor Cal Prep Player-of-the-Year honors in 2012-13, helping Carondelet to a top 20 national ranking as a team. Romeo has been a starter for one of the premier club programs in the nation, the Cal Stars Elite, since she was an eighth grader. As a member of the Cal Stars program, Romeo has earned all-tournament or MVP honors at 16 national tournaments.
Smith’s signing brought even more talent to the Husker 2014 class. Smith plays point guard for her high school and club teams, but was ranked as the No. 18 wing in the country by ESPN. The 6-0 guard from Brewster High School in Washington, averaged 21.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 4.2 steals as a junior to lead the Bears to a Class 1A state championship. She had 26 points and 10 rebounds in the 2013 state title game, after producing 35 points and 12 boards in the 2012 Class 2B championship game.
Cincore brings more athleticism and strength to the perimeter for the Huskers. The 5-8 guard will add a gritty defensive presence along with an expanding offensive game to the NU backcourt. As a junior at Briarcrest Christian in 2012-13, Cincore averaged 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals per game while leading her team to the state semifinals.
Washington adds size and potential to the Nebraska inside game. The 6-2 Washington plays at Skyline High School in the Bay Area and on the Cal Stars Elite. She is relatively new to basketball, but brings excellent athleticism to the court.
5-8, Guard, Arlington, Tenn. (Briarcrest Christian)
No. 24 Point Guard in Class of 2014 (ESPN)
Jasmine Cincore brings strength and athleticism to the Husker backcourt in 2014-15. The 5-8 combo guard from Arlington, Tenn., averaged 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals per game while leading Briarcrest Christian to a 27-2 record, a 26-game winning streak and the Class 2-AA state semifinals in 2013. For her performance, she was named Miss Basketball in Tennessee Class 2-AA. She played for Coach Lee Smith at Briarcrest Christian. She was a first-team Class 2-AA all-state selection by the Tennessee Sportswriters Association.
Cincore, who ranked as the No. 24 point guard in the nation despite being a combo guard, also played club basketball for the Tennessee Glory. A tremendous all-around athlete, Cincore finished third in the girls shot put at the 2013 Tennessee Division II High School Track and Field Championships with a throw of 35-6.
“Jasmine is a strong, scrappy, physical kid who goes hard on every possession,” Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. “She is a good teammate, a good leader and selfless. She attacks the paint offensively and does a great job of scoring at the basket with her athleticism and strength. She also has the ability to get to the free throw line and might remind Husker fans a little bit of former Husker great Dominique Kelley. She is a high character young lady and student who put a lot of thought into her decision to become a Husker.”
Cincore chose Nebraska over Michigan, Marquette, Memphis, Tennessee Tech, Kansas State, Auburn and Georgia State.
6-2, Forward, Alma, Kan. (Wamego)
No. 13 Wing/Shooting Guard, No. 42 Overall Player in Class of 2014 (ESPN)
Kaylee Page, a 6-2 senior at Wamego High School in Kansas, was ranked among the top 50 players nationally in the class of 2014. She averaged 20.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.3 blocked shots, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game as a junior. A gifted shooter, Page knocked down 57 three-pointers for the Red Raiders in 2012-13. She helped Wamego to the Kansas Class 4A state championship while playing for her father, Jim Page, who was the Kansas Coach of the Year.
“Kaylee’s a great shooter and can score in multiple other ways. She is well coached and really has a feel for the game,” Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. “She is a gym rat, very competitive, engaged and focused. She is a good leader, student and teammate. She is a very active and aggressive offensive player. She will be a great fit for our system and our style of play because of her versatility.”
Kaylee’s father played college basketball at Johnson County Community College and Pittsburg State. Her mother, Wendy, played collegiately at Emporia State. Her brother, James, is a 6-6 freshman at Grinnell College in 2013-14.
Page chose Nebraska over Stanford and Oklahoma State.
5-7, Guard, Martinez, Calif. (Carondelet)
No. 12 Point Guard, No. 55 Overall Player in Class of 2014 (ESPN)
Natalie Romeo brings a floor general’s mentality and tremendous ball-handling skills to the Nebraska program. The 5-7 point guard from Carondelet High School in California is ranked as high as No. 27 and among the top 50 nationally by several major recruiting services. She is listed No. 55 overall as the No. 12 point guard by ESPN, but was ranked as the No. 6 point guard in the class of 2014 by another major recruiting service.
As a junior, Romeo averaged 21.4 points, 6.7 assists and 6.3 steals per game to help the Cougars to the North Coast Section Division II title for the third consecutive season. Along the way, she earned East Bay Athletic League MVP honors and the Nor Cal Prep Player of the Year in 2012-13, helping Carondelet to a top 20 national ranking as a team. Entering her senior season at Carondelet, Romeo has amassed 1,541 points, 393 rebounds, 499 assists and 444 steals.
She has been a starter for one of the premier club programs in the nation, the Cal Stars Elite, since she was an eighth grader. She was coached by Kelly Sopak with the Cal Stars Elite. Romeo was either a tournament MVP or All-Tournament selection in 16 tournaments as a club player, including the 2012 Nike Boo Williams Invitational. She also led the Cal Stars to the 2012 adidas National Championship.
“We absolutely love her toughness and passing ability. Natalie is a floor leader who scores, sets others up to score, and brings energy and intensity every time she steps on the court,” Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. “She likes to push the tempo and she is an aggressive defender. She is a really good fit for our offense and our style of play.”
Romeo chose Nebraska over Boston College, Oregon State, Utah and Arizona.
6-0, Guard, Okanogan, Wash. (Brewster)
No. 18 Wing, No. 62 Overall Player in Class of 2014 (ESPN)
The final piece of Nebraska’s recruiting class, Chandler Smith completed a class that was ranked 16th nationally even before she was added. Smith, who plays point guard for her high school and club teams, is ranked as the No. 18 wing in the country and No. 62 player overall by ESPN.
The 6-0 guard from Brewster High School in Washington, averaged 21.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 4.2 steals for the Bears as a junior. Smith, who lives on a ranch outside of Okanogan, Wash., powered Brewster to a Class 1A state championship as a junior in 2013. She scored 26 points and had 10 rebounds in the Bears’ 72-46 victory over Castle Rock in the state title game in Yakima on March 2. Smith hit four three-pointers and had 22 points in the first half alone to fuel the championship game victory. The Bears finished with a 26-1 record and Smith was a first-team all-state selection for the second straight year for Coach Roger Boesel.
Smith, who will enter her fourth season as a varsity starter in 2013-14, erupted for 35 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks as a sophomore in the 2012 Class 2B championship game against Reardan. Brewster fell by a narrow margin in the title game, but Smith was named a first-team Class 2B all-stater. As a freshman in 2010-11, Smith averaged 16.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 5.7 steals and 1.5 blocked shots in 23 games for Brewster.
“Another player that will thrive in our offensive system. Chandler is a great passer, both in transition and half court. She has very good handles and can shoot,” Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. “She is a good three-point shooter and can hit the dribble jumper. She is smart, competitive, has great length and size on the perimeter and is a savvy player. She played in the same AAU organization as former Husker All-American Lindsey Moore, and may actually be ahead of Lindsey offensively at the same age. Chandler is a mature young lady and a great student.”
Smith played her club basketball for the Northwest Blazers Orange.
She chose Nebraska over Gonzaga, Arizona State, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State and Baylor.
6-2, Forward/Center, Oakland, Calif. (Skyline)
No. 16 Post Player in Class of 2014 (ESPN)
The most recent addition to Nebraska’s 2014 class, Darrien Washington followed her Cal Stars Elite point guard to Lincoln, committing to the Huskers in September. Washington teamed with fellow Husker recruit Natalie Romeo to power the Cal Stars Elite to a 54-3 overall record in 2013 and an national runner-up finish. A late-comer to basketball, Washington averaged 16.4 points, 12.6 rebounds and 4.9 blocks for Oakland Skyline High School as a junior in 2012-13.
Washington, who ranked by ESPN as the No. 16 post player in the nation, is a back-to-the-basket player who can catch the ball and go to work in traffic on the block, something Nebraska has not featured in several seasons. She was a first-team All-Oakland selection in the Bay Area League in 2012-13.
“We love Darrien’s size and mobility. She is strong, runs the floor well and works hard on defense,” Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. “She has played with some of the top guards in the nation on her Cal Stars Elite team, so she knows how to play with great players. She has good instincts, can move really well for a big, and finishes in transition. She is also a pretty good back-to-the-basket scorer. Darrien has a lot of upside, and we’re excited to help develop her skills.”
Washington chose Nebraska over Utah, Oregon, Oregon State and UC Santa Barbara.