The Maryland women's basketball program on Wednesday made official what had been already lined up for months – that the 2016 Terrapins incoming recruiting class will be the best in the sport, anywhere.
Maryland made official the signings of five different five-star recruits for next fall's incoming class: Idaho point guard Destiny Slocum, Georgia center Jenna Staiti, Maryland wing Kaila Charles, New Jersey wing Blair Watson and Maryland forward Stephanie Jones. The class also features three-star guard Sarah Myers, who's from the same Georgia area as Staiti. Overall, it's a ridiculous haul for Brenda Frese's program.
The Terps' class is the best in women's college basketball. The lowest-rated of the five-stars, Jones, is the No. 10 forward in the country according to ESPN's HoopGurlz. The highest, Slocum and Staiti, are the third-ranked center and point guard. It's a massive class both in talent and volume, easily slotting at No. 1 nationally. It's the kind of class that means Maryland will never not be a dominant team at any point in the next four years.
These players won't get to College Park for the better part of another year, but here's the official Maryland capsule on each of them. (Normally, Testudo Times doesn't publish official program bios, but these offer deeper detail on the players than any of us can claim to have on our own, plus player and coach quotes we don't have elsewhere.):
Destiny Slocum, 5'7 point guard
Hometown: Meridien, Idaho
High School: Mountain View High School (Connie Skogrand )
AAU Team: Boise Hoop Dreams (Shambric Williams)
About Slocum: Ranked the No. 7 overall player by both ESPN, All Star Girls Report and the Collegiate Girls Report...earned Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year honors after averaging 25.1 points, 5.6 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 2.9 steals as a junior...led Mountain View to its first state title and record of 26-1 in her junior season...named Idaho Player of the Year as a junior and conference Player of the Year as a junior and freshman...has earned First Team All-State honors in all three years of her career...point guard for U.S. Under-19 team...helped lead Team USA to a gold medal in Moscow in the FIBA World Championships in the summer of 2015.
Frese on Slocum:
"The first player from Idaho we have ever signed. Our fans are going to love the flare and energy that Destiny plays with. She is a winner through and through. She won her first gold medal with USA Basketball this past summer and led her high school team to it's first-ever state championship as well. She can do it all...loves to pass first, can score, defend and has a really high IQ. She is a true elite point guard which is the single hardest player to land in our sport. She is going to be a joy to watch for the next four years."
Slocum on Maryland:
"I chose the Maryland for its team atmosphere and program prestige. I also enjoyed the feel the team had and also the coaches. I chose Maryland because it's the right fit for me."
Stephanie Jones, 6'2 forward
Hometown: Havre de Grace, Md.
High School: Aberdeen High School (Amber Milnes)
AAU Team: Fairfax Stars (Aggie McCormick)
About Jones: Named the No. 51 overall player by both ESPN and the Collegiate Girls Report and No. 35 by the All Star Girls Report...helped lead Aberdeen to AAA State Title as a freshman and as a junior...averaged 17 points and 9.3 rebounds as a junior...has scored 1451 points through three years...once scored 46 points during sophomore season...named First Team All-Metro, First Team All-Harford County in all three years...named to 695 Hoops First Team as a sophomore and junior and named 695 Freshman of the Year in 2013...made USA Today First Team All-State as a junior, Second Team as a sophomore and Honorable Mention as a sophomore...made Title IX All-Tournament Team in 2015, All-Tournament Mayors Academy and First Team IAABO Christmas Tournament in 2014...UCBAC Player of the Year in 2013...named to USJN 16U All-Tournament Team in 2014...helped Fairfax Stars to USJN 13U national title in 2011 and 12U national title in 2010.
Frese on Jones:
"It's a pleasure to add another Jones sibling in Stephanie to the Maryland family. It only makes sense and what a terrific experience with her family and to play along her big sister, Brionna. Stephanie is another player that comes in and only knows how to win after leading her high school team Aberdeen to a state championship title in her career. Stephanie can play inside and out and handle the ball. She is a tremendous competitor that is going to do all of the little intangible things to help a team accomplish great things."
Jones on Maryland:
"I chose to go to Maryland because of my relationship with Coach Frese and because it's always been a dream of mine to play on a big stage, which the atmosphere and fans at Maryland will allow me to do."
Kaila Charles, 5'11 wing
Hometown: Glendale, Md.
High School: Riverdale Baptist (Sam Caldwell)
AAU Team: Team Takeover (Ron James)
About Charles: Named the No. 25 overall player by both ESPN and the Collegiate Girls Report and No. 21 by the All Star Girls Report...played first three years at Eleanor Roosevelt High School...averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds as a junior...helped lead Roosevelt team to 72-5 record in three years...named team MVP in all three years at Roosevelt...earned First Team All-Met honors by The Washington Post as a sophomore and junior...led team to 2014 and 2015 Class AAAA State Championships...named The Gazette Player of the Year...reached 1,000 career points as a junior..named Next Sports Phenom Player of the Month in February 2015.
Frese on Charles:
"A two-time Maryland state champion who we knew we wanted from the day we laid our eyes on her. She knows how to win. She comes from tremendous genes as her Mom an older sister both ran track in the Olympics. She is over 6-feet tall and really knows how to use her speed and athleticism to get up and down the floor. She is extremely versatile playing inside and out and rebounds extremely hard. She will also give us a tremendous presence on the defensive end."
Kaila Charles on Maryland:
"I chose Maryland because it is a amazing school, with great people! The atmosphere is fantastic and the people are even better. From a basketball view, they are a winning and well-known program. The coaches are genuine and caring! The players are great! They are fun on and off the court, and they are always ready to put in work!"
Jenna Staiti, 6'6 center
Hometown: Cumming, Ga.
High School: West Forsyth High School (David May)
AAU Team: Georgia Metros (Matt Huddleston)
About Staiti: Named the No. 17 overall player by both ESPN and the Collegiate Girls Report and the No. 1 player in the state of Georgia...also ranked No. 29 player overall by the All Star Girls Report...averaged 29 points, 16 rebounds, while shooting 71 percent from the field in her junior season at West Forsyth...earned First Team All-State honors as a junior in 2015 and Second Team as a sophomore in 2014...named the Forsyth County Player of the Year as a sophomore and junior...named Region Player of the Year as a junior...named to the Naismith Second Team as a junior in 2015 and Honorable Mention as a sophomore in 2014...XL-212 Player of the Year in 2015...named to the All-Region team in all three years of her career so far...played for the Atlanta Cagers before the Georgia Metros in AAU...nationally-ranked swimmer prior to playing basketball and won a state title in swimming.
Frese on Staiti:
"At 6-6, Jenna has tremendous size and will be one of the tallest players we've had here at Maryland. She has great hands and will give us a low post presence immediately. She can score, defend and rebound. She came to the sport late after starting out as an elite swimmer who decided to switch to basketball. Her ceiling is extremely high and her work ethic, hunger and IQ are going to carry her far. The sky is the limit for her."
Staiti on Maryland:
"I chose Maryland because I wanted to play for the best and be surrounded by the best. I knew in my heart when I felt the emotions I felt when Coach Frese offered me that it was the right place for me to be."
Blair Watson, 6'0 wing
Hometown: Nutley, N.J.
High School: Nutley High School (Larry Mitschow)
AAU Team: New Jersey Panthers (John Griff)
About Watson: Named the No. 28 overall player by both ESPN and the Collegiate Girls Report and No. 24 by the All Star Girls Report...averages over 23.0 points and four three-pointers a game...has scored over 1,400 points in three years at Nutley...has earned All-Conference and First Team All-American Division in all three years of her career...team won sectionals in her junior year.
Frese on Watson:
"Blair is a match-up nightmare at the perimeter position. She is extremely versatile and strong. She is one of the best shooters I've seen and makes it look easy. She has an array of shots and can hit from anywhere. She can hang in the air and shoot Kobe-like shots. She is a ferocious competitor that can rebound and attack off of the bounce and knows how to make everyone else around her better. She is a proven winner."
Watson on Maryland:
"I chose Maryland because it was everything I could've asked for and so much more."
Sarah Myers, 5'10 guard
Hometown: Cumming, Ga.
High School: South Forsyth High School (Keith Gravitt)
AAU Team: Georgia Metros (Matt Huddleston)
About Myers: Ranked No. 92 overall player by the All Star Girls Report...four-year starter at South Forsyth...averaged 21.0 points per game as a junior in 2015...team won Region 6-AAAAAA title and she was named Tournament MVP as a junior...named to the 2015 Naismith All-Metro Third Team...made the Region 6-AAAAAA All Region Team in all three years of her career...led team in scoring as a junior...reached 1,000 career points as a sophomore in 2014...named to the Region 6-AAAAAA All Tournament Team...helped lead South Forsyth to the 2014 State Final Four...named the 2014 Forsyth County Tip-Off Club Player of the Year...2015, 2014, 2013 Offensive Player of the Year at South Forsyth...named to 2013 All County Team by Forsyth County Tip-Off Club...earned 2014 AJC Georgia All State Second Team honors...team captain as a sophomore and junior...named to the 2014 All Tournament Team at the CresCom Bank Invitational in Myrtle Beach. the 2013 MVP of the Holiday on the Hardwoods Tournament in Cherokee, N.C., 2014, 2013, 2012 Player of the Month, December by the Forsyth County Tip-Off Club.. the 2015, 2014 XL-212 MVP South Forsyth HS...the 2015 GACA All-State Girls Basketball Team-North.
Frese on Myers:
"Sarah is a 5-11 wing player that has tremendous size, energy and an IQ to help us a ton. She is a glue type of player that does a little bit of everything to help her team win in any way. She can shoot the ball from the perimeter, rebound, set teammates up and hit clutch shots. She is someone that is always in the gym working on her game. She is going to be help us in a variety of ways."
Myers on Maryland:
"I chose Maryland because they fulfilled my vision of the dream school. Their style of basketball led by Coach Frese paired with amazing academic opportunities led me to an easy decision."