Roster stocked with young players, Lady Tigers may pass on 2013 recruiting class

Itoro Coleman: 'The 2014 class will be a big one, and we want to try to balance that class with our 2015 and 2016 classes'

Clemson women's basketball head coach Itoro Coleman addresses the crowd during the Rock the 'John event at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson Friday night as the Clemson men's and women's basketball teams tip off practice for their 2012-13 seasons.

Mark Crammer Independent Mail

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson women's basketball head coach Itoro Coleman addresses the crowd during the Rock the 'John event at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson Friday night as the Clemson men's and women's basketball teams tip off practice for their 2012-13 seasons. Mark Crammer Independent Mail

All's quiet on the recruiting front.

For Clemson women's basketball coach Itoro Coleman and her staff, that's good news.

Over the past 12 months, Coleman has stocked her program with young talent, including the addition of a highly-rated class of four freshmen plus two transfers, one of whom will be eligible after Christmas, and the other who'll join the Lady Tigers as a full-time player next fall.

Those six additions, on top of a solid 2011 signing class, have given Coleman and recruiting coordinator Yolette McPhee-McCuin the option to concentrate their recruiting attention on the class of 2014.

"We really don't have to sign anybody this year," Coleman said. "We are still looking at a few, but if we don't sign anybody, we're still OK. We'll have 13 players returning next year (2013-14). The 2014 class will be a big one, and we want to try to balance that class with our 2015 and 2016 classes.

"I want to keep a roster of 13 or 14, and leave it open for some walk-ons to have an opportunity to make the team. So if we sign one this year, that's fine. But we really don't have to."

When Coleman took over program, she saw that a major talent upgrade was a necessity. Toward that end, she refocused the Lady Tigers' recruiting efforts to significantly expand the program's regional base.

A year ago, she went to Austin, Tex. and added sharpshooting guard Kelly Gramlich, and this year she went into New Jersey to sign highly-regarded Danaejah Grant, and to the Bahamas (via suburban Maryland) to add top-30 national prospect Jonquel Jones.

"There's a method to our madness, actually," Coleman offered. "We try to recruit nationally, in the sense that while we base our recruiting in the Southeast, if there's interest up north or anywhere, really, then we'll go there and recruit.

"If we can get them on campus, then we know immediately that there's genuine interest. And once they get on campus, Clemson just sort of sells itself."

She says Grant is a case in point.

"Danaejah is a very special player, in the sense that she wanted to go somewhere that she could make a difference," Coleman said. "There were a lot of big schools recruiting her, but she came to Clemson, fell in love with it, and was really excited about the opportunity to make a difference here.

"Her parents were comfortable with it, in that her being far from home was not an issue, and it just worked out."

Coleman said she and her staff try to recruit specifically.

"In recruiting, we try to work efficiently," she said. "We don't like to churn our wheels a lot. We'll go wherever interest is, and then if we get them on campus, then we'll know that they're serious, no matter where they're from."

She wholeheartedly agrees with what Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney learned from recruiting long-shot C.J. Spiller: "If we can get 'em on campus, then we've got a shot."

Coleman said prospects not familiar with Clemson "really don't know what to expect" when they arrive on campus.

"We try to tell them, but when they can get here and see our academic center and our facilities, and now we're getting our new practice facility built and we're going to make headway in recruiting because of that, then it's confirmation of what we've told them," she said.

"All those things are important. The thing we find out is that people leave campus thinking 'wow, I can be at home here.' And that's simply because of the people...

"If you're fake in front of people, they pick up that and sense that. At Clemson, the people make the university. We have some great individuals here, from the athletic department and from the community. No matter who the recruits are talking to when they visit, they get the same thing.

"They leave here thinking 'wow, this really is a family.'"

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