The University of Louisville women’s basketball program, for the second-consecutive year, compiled one of the most decorated recruiting classes in the country.
Five highly respected high school student-athletes, including three five-star recruits, each signed and submitted their National Letters of Intenton Wednesday to continue their basketball careers at Louisville, giving the Cardinals a class that ranks fifth for 2016 according to espnW HoopGurlz and Prospects Nation.
The Cardinals’ coaching staff secured commitments from elite stars in five different states, consisting of Ciera Johnson, a 6-foot-4 center from Duncanville, Texas; Kyle Shook, a 6-foot-4 center from Colorado Springs, Colo.; Sydney Zambrotta, a 5-foot-9 guard from North Babylon, N.Y.; Jazmine Jones, a 5-foot-10 guard from Tallahassee, Fla.; and Bionca Dunham, a 6-foot-3 forward from Philadelphia, Pa.
Since 2010, head coach Jeff Walz and his staffs have built five top-10 classes. The Cardinals welcomed the No. 1 class last year, the No. 5 class in 2010, and the eighth-best group in 2014. Overall, Walz and his staff have signed seven McDonald’s All-Americans – with this year’s honorees still yet to be announced.
Bionca Dunham, 6-3, Forward, Philadelphia, Pa. (Imhotep Institute Charter)
Bionca Dunham, a 6-foot-3 forward, comes to Louisville after leading Imhotep Institute Charter to consecutive Public League championships in Philadelphia. Despite having played basketball for just three years, with limited AAU experience, she is rated a three-star recruit by espnW HoopGurlz.
Dunham scored a team-high 18 points in the 2015 league title game and was named the most valuable player in 2014 after totaling 10 points and 12 rebounds. She also has helped her team to consecutive city championships.
Dunham also was recruited by North Carolina, South Carolina, Temple, Pittsburgh, and Houston.
What they’re saying about Bionca Dunham
“Louisville, watch out. Bionca Dunham is on her way. This young lady is phenomenal and has that old-fashion passion and love for the game. The team and fans will love her.” – Marty Washington, Imhotep Institute Charter High School Coach
“(Louisville is adding) to the front court with an unheralded post prospect with possibilities. (She is) quick, athletic, mobile, and a sleeper prospect in 2016.” – Dan Olson, owner and director of the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report and director of espnW HoopGurlz
“Bionca is a hybrid post player that loves the transition game. She can affect and alter shots on the defensive end and pursues loose balls and rebounds. She is a high energy player that will no doubt have a bright future.” – Jeff Walz, Louisville Head Coach
Ciera Johnson, 6-4, Center, Duncanville, Texas (Duncanville)
Ciera Johnson, a five-star recruit according to espnW HoopGurlz, is ranked as the 15th-best overall player in the class of 2016. At the post position, she is the second-best player in the class.
A 6-foot-4 Texas native, Johnson averaged 14.9 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 3.2 blocks and 1.2 steals as a junior. She shot 57 percent from the floor that year.
During her sophomore season, she led Duncanville High to a 35-1 mark, with its only loss coming in the Class 5A state championship. Johnson produced 21 points, 16 rebounds, and two blocks that game. Heading into the championship, the school boasted a 105-game winning streak.
Johnson chose Louisville over Duke, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Texas, South Carolina, and Notre Dame.
What they’re saying about Ciera Johnson
“Ciera Johnson is a very strong leader on the court and off the court. She knows what it takes to win championships and the strength of character and family love that a team must have to accomplish success. I have thoroughly enjoyed coaching her the past three years and watching her flourish. I know she is going to do great things at Louisville and in her life, and I wish her the best.” – Cathy Self-Morgan, Duncanville High School Coach
“(She is) among the elite low-post prospects in the nation for 2016 and a winner from a superb high school program in Duncanville (Texas). Johnson brings size, footwork, and mobility, providing a second piece to an outstanding frontcourt.” – Dan Olson, owner and director of the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report and director of espnW HoopGurlz
“Ciera Johnson is a true low-block player with great footwork. She is strong and finishes in traffic. (She is a) good rebounder that runs floor well, and a double-double player that is WNBA prospect.” – Bret McCormick, Advanced Scout and publisher of All-Star Girls Report
“Ciera is a low-post player with developed back to basket moves and finishes around basket. (She) runs the floor, can defend, and rebounds on both ends. (She has) unlimited potential.” – Harry Elifson, Southern Girls Basketball Report
“Ciera adds an element of versatility in the post as she can engage in contact and finish in the low block as well as face up and shoot from the perimeter. She too comes from a very successful high school program and knows how to win at the highest level. Ciera is comfortable in a leadership position and will no doubt have a vocal presence on our team.” – Jeff Walz, Louisville Head Coach
Jazmine Jones, 5-10, Guard, Tallahassee, Fla. (Florida A&M Developmental Research School)
Jazmine Jones, a highly athletic guard from Florida, is a four-star prospect in the class of 2016 according to espnW HoopGurlz. She was tabbed as the 55th-best prospect overall, 14th at the guard position. She is tabbed 19th overall by ProspectsNation.
Jones, who averaged 18 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals as a junior, guided her school the Class 2A state title in both 2012 and 2013. She is a four-time all-Big Bend first team member and was selected as the 2015 player of the year. Heading into her senior campaign, she boasts 1,632 points, 768 rebounds, 410 assists, and 409 steals.
The 5-foot-10 guard was named to the 2014 U.S. Women’s U-18 National Team Trials roster.
Jones, a 2A all-state and all-Final Four Team pick, chose Louisville over Ohio State, Miami (Fla.), and hometown Florida State.
What they’re saying about Jazmine Jones
“The sky is the limit for Jaz. If she continues to work hard, remain coachable, and keep working on her weaknesses, you will see her name in the WNBA. I am so proud of her; she stated from the beginning that she wanted to play basketball at the Division I level. She set her goals, and now she is seeing them come to pass.” – Ericka Cromartie, Florida A&M Developmental Research School Coach
“(She is an) athletic guard who brings size to the back court and untapped potential. Jones can score in bunches and is effective off the dribble as her strong suit. An emerging deep threat game will give the Cardinals two potent offensive threats in the back court.” – Dan Olson, owner and director of the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report and director of espnW HoopGurlz
“Jazmine Jones is a freaky athlete and explosive leaper. (She is) acrobatic in traffic and elevates on the mid-range jumper. (Her) potential is through the roof and I expect her to be a pro one day.” – Bret McCormick, Advanced Scout and publisher of All-Star Girls Report
“Jazmine is an ultra-athletic wing player with emerging offensive skills. (She) can score when she wants to, gets to the basket, and elevates on the jumper. The best basketball is in front of her; untapped potential at the next level.” – Harry Elifson, Southern Girls Basketball Report
“Jaz brings quickness and athleticism on both ends of the floor. Her ability to get to the rim at the offensive end and step into passing lanes for steals will be a huge asset for our program. She is a proven winner with a state championship under her belt and will no doubt bring toughness and tenacity to our program.” – Louisville Head Coach
Kylee Shook, 6-4, Center, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Mesa Ridge)
A top-20 recruit according to espnW HoopGurlz, Kylee Shook will head to Louisville as the 18th-best overall player in the rankings and the fourth-best post player in the class of 2016.
The five-star recruit has compiled a highly decorated career at Mesa Ridge High in Colorado, breaking the school’s career blocked shots record in her junior campaign. Through three seasons, she has produced 1,086 points, 941 rebounds, 142 assists, 120 steals, and a stellar 496 blocks. Shook is shooting 75 percent from the charity stripe and 52 percent from inside the arc.
A two-sport athlete, also playing volleyball, she totaled 24 points, 21 rebounds, and 13 blocks in her first varsity basketball game and was named to the Denver Post all-state Class 4A first team as a freshman.
At the conclusion of her junior campaign, when she averaged 18.3 points, 14.9 rebounds, and 8.1 blocks per game, she was named the Colorado 4A Player of the Year and to the all-state first team. She even recorded a quadruple-double that season (24 points, 22 rebounds, 12 blocks, and 11 assists).
She chose Louisville over Washington and Colorado.
What they’re saying about Kylee Shook
“(She is) perhaps the best shot blocker in the class of 2016. (She has) great timing, hands, mobility and a quickly emerging face-up game. Shook could yield quick results on the college scene early.” – Dan Olson, owner and director of the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report and director of espnW HoopGurlz
“Kylee Shook is athletic, skilled, versatile, and has a good motor. (She has) great hands and finishes in the paint. (She is a) shot blocker that likes to face up to 16 feet and will be a WNBA player after graduation.” – Bret McCormick, Advanced Scout and publisher of All-Star Girls Report
“Kylee is a finished, fundamental, versatile player, with polished offensive skills. (She) can score from anywhere on floor, inside and out. (It will be) a total nightmare for opposition to decide on who to defend her. (She is) college ready.” – Harry Elifson, Southern Girls Basketball Report
“Kylee is a presence on both ends of the floor. She has already broken the record for blocks in the state of Colorado, and is a versatile post player that can stretch a defense out to the 3-point line. Her untapped talent level is off the charts and we are thrilled to add such a game-changer to our roster.” – Jeff Walz, Louisville Head Coach
Sydney Zambrotta, 5-9, Guard, North Babylon, N.Y. (Christ the King)
Sydney Zambrotta, a five-star recruit according to espnW HoopGurlz, is listed as the 29th-best player in the class of 2016, ninth at the guard position.
Zambrotta is coming to Louisville from New York, where she attended Christ the King High – the same school as former Louisville standout Bria Smith and basketball greats Tina Charles, Sue Bird, and Chamique Holdsclaw.
During her junior campaign, she averaged 23.4 points per game and led the school to the Catholic High School Athletic Association Brooklyn/Queens crown and the Class 2A catholic state championship. In the win, she had 32 points and six rebounds. That year, she was named to the MSG Varsity All-New York City first team.
The New York native first started garnering attention as an eighth-grade student, when she broke the Long Island single-game varsity record by scoring 63 points. She also had 13 rebounds and 11 steals that day. Earlier that year, she fell two points shy of the record with a 58-point performance.
Zambrotta, a three-sport athlete who also starred in soccer and lacrosse, chose Louisville over Miami (Fla.), Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and South Carolina.
What they’re saying about Sydney Zambrotta
“Sydney has continued to develop and rise in her ability. She plays with an edge, toughness and can certainly score from deep with a quick pull-up game off the dribble. What I may most admire of her ability is her competitiveness. (She is) among the stock-risers in the 2016 class.” – Dan Olson, owner and director of the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report and director of espnW HoopGurlz
“Sydney Zambrotta is a lefty that can really stretch the floor. (She) has NBA range and can flat shoot it. (She is) fundamental, with a great feel for the game. (Opponents) cannot leave her alone; all teams have to know where she is on the court.” – Bret McCormick, Advanced Scout and publisher of All-Star Girls Report
“Sydney is a combo-guard that scores in all facets of game, drives it to basket with ease, and also is a threat from 3. (She) has a good feel for game and keeps teammates involved with her awareness in open court.” – Harry Elifson, Southern Girls Basketball Report
“Sydney is our second protégé from legendary Christ the King High School, following in the footsteps of Bria Smith. Syd is a deep-scoring threat that we have been in need of, and can play multiple guard positions. Her ball-handling allows her to score in a multitude of ways and she loves to play and attack in transition.” – Jeff Walz, Louisville Head Coach
Recruiting Class Rankings at Louisville Under Jeff Walz (per espnW/ESPN.com)
2016 – No. 5 (Johnson, Shook, Zambrotta, Jones, Dunham)
2015 – No. 1 (Durr, Cole, Jones, Fuehring, DeGrate)
2014 – No. 8 (Hines-Allen, Brackemyre, Moore, Carter, Freeman)
2013 – NR (Henderson, Cannon, Breedlove)
2012 – NR (Walton, Deines)
2011 – No. 10 (Smith, Hammond, J. Schimmel, Niamke)
2010 – No. 5 (S. Schimmel, Tay, Slaughter, Vails, Dyer, Harrington)
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