University of Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz and his staff went back on the road recruiting last weekend.
But they did it selling a different product.
Three weeks after pulling the biggest upset in women’s college basketball history and two weeks after making it to the NCAA Tournament national championship game, the U of L staff is recruiting the classes of 2014, ’15 and ’16 using its recent success to try and land a few future stars.
”It’s all been great,” Walz said. “We were already in with a few kids and that’s really picked up. It’s been great to see the reception we have been given by so many people, now we just have to finish it.”
U of L beat Baylor and then national power Tennessee to reach the Final Four before taking out California in the semifinals. The Cardinals lost to Connecticut in the national championship game.
The Cardinals became just the third school – along with UConn and Notre Dame – to reach more than one title game since 2009. U of L also lost to UConn in the ’09 national title game.
”We have done something pretty special, but we have to continue to recruit hard and get some more players,” Walz said. “We just need to use the success to help recruiting and get some kids in that can help us take the next step, which is where we want to go – cutting down those nets.”
U of L associated head coach Stephanie Norman said the two title game appearances in five years “shows we are a program and not just a team,” adding the success “legitimizes our efforts in recruiting.”
Assistant coach Cam Newbauer added just after the title game that U of L is, “now getting contacted by kids who want to come and play here.”
Walz said it was great to be back on the road last weekend and noted “everybody has been receptive” and the staff is in on some top talent. Walz can’t talk about individual prospects because of NCAA rules.
But there are plenty of top prospects looking at U of L.
The Cardinals are in the mix for at least six of the top 35 prospects in the country, including the top guard in the country and No. 4 ranked Kelsey Mitchell of Cincinnati Princeton High School.
No. 17 Myisha Hines-Allen of Montclair, N.J., is a 6-foot-2, wing, while No. 20 Lynee Bolton is a 6-2 forward from Clinton, Md., Bullis School.
Walz was expected to make a recruiting trip on Tuesday that included stops to see No. 23 Mikayla Vinson, a 5-foot-6 guard from Arlington, Va., Yorktown and No. 35 prospect Ariana Freeman, a 5-11 wing from Manassas, Va., Paul VI. Freeman is a former West Virginia commitment who averaged 19.7 points a game.
No. 33 Mariya Moore is a wing from Pleasanton, Calif., Salesian, while White Plains, N.Y., Imani Tilford is also looking at the Cardinals. Other top prospects in the mix include Bolingbrook, Ill., Joliet Catholic wing Jasmine Lumpkin and Power Springs, Ga., Hillgrove forward Mackenzie Engram.
U of L also offered top 2015 prospect Brianna Jones, who is a guard from North Babylon, N.Y., an offer last weekend.
”It’s great that we’re in with some really good kids,” Walz said. “But now it’s just a matter of getting some of these kids to pull the trigger.”