It’s been a quiet time on the Marquette Golden Eagles women’s basketball recruiting front lately. We haven’t had any new material to work with since head coach Megan Duffy extended an offer to Ayanna Patterson back in late May. That has changed now, as we have two new scholarship offers from the west side of the McGuire Center to talk about. One of them is in the Class of 2021, and the other is in the Class of 2022. While we’re on the topic, let’s go ahead and drop the scholarship chart in here at the top so you know what we’re looking at as we go along.
The 2021 offer is the more interesting one of the two, as that’s the recruiting class that will be eligible to sign national letters of intent in just four months. With Makiyah Williams verbally committed to Marquette, Duffy is looking at having three more spots available to fill. Two of those are scholarships that are still available for the 2020-21 campaign and will presumably just be rolling over to 2021-22. With Williams listed as a guard, I think it’s safe to say that she would be taking Selena Lott’s roster spot in theory. Duffy is then looking to replace Lauren Van Kleunen as the other projected departing senior, but with the incoming group of freshmen in the Class of 2020, getting a talented interior player in 2021 isn’t a major need.
For 2022, the only senior projected to be coming off the books is Chloe Marotta. It’s possible that purely for roster balance — that 2019 class of six women is a lot to deal with in one go in 2023 — Duffy might keep scholarships open in order to bring in a bigger class in 2022. At some point, something needs to be done to fix the issue that was created heading into Carolyn Kieger’s second season. Kieger didn’t really do herself a lot of favors along the way, and so now that’s Duffy’s problem to deal with down the road. In any case, with just one planned departure from the roster, it’s hard to say exactly what Marquette needs in 2022 other than “a good basketball player that Duffy and her staff can develop into an even better basketball player.”
Okay, enough dilly-dallying, let’s get into the two new names you need to know.
We’re going in recruiting class chronological order here, so Gillespie is the Class of 2021 prospect. First things first, we have to talk about why Marquette is offering a scholarship to a 2021 prospect at what would seem to be such a late juncture. It’s a really simple thing: Gillispie was committed to Ole Miss as late as April of this year. On April 10th, she announced that she was reopening her recruiting.
Staying Humbled and Focused... pic.twitter.com/JzlZHG5X75— Special K (@kendragillispie) April 10, 2020
Now, I suppose you’re figuring that the “structural changes” that you’re reading in her notes app statement is a head coaching change. That’s not the case, as Yolett McPhee-McCuin is still running the show in Oxford. However, she did make a change to her coaching staff, bringing in Shay Robinson on April 8th — two days before Gillispie’s announcement — to replace — drumroll please — new Marquette assistant coach Tony Greene. I don’t think we need to do a lot of work to play connect the dots here, just wonder why it took until July for the Golden Eagles to reach out to Gillispie.
That question is the big one, because we will now to turn to details about the young lady. Most notably, the Oklahoma native is currently ranked 100 in the Class of 2021 by ESPN., and as the 13th best wing in the recruiting class. Not even three full months on the payroll and hiring Coach Greene is already paying dividends for the Golden Eagles. Gillispie is listed as a 6’0” wing by ESPN, and the Worldwide Leader includes this scouting report from summer 2018:
Deceptively athletic perimeter prospect rebounds and handles in uptempo game; weaves through traffic and finishes plays in transition game; creates in the key, elevates on jumper in the lane, brings consistent offensive production in the key; pounds the glass, exploits mismatches.
Blue Star Basketball still lists Gillispie as an Ole Miss commit, which is helpful to what we’re doing here as it makes sure I can see her recruiting ranking. They have her at #54 in the country, but they also say she’s a 6’2” center. That’s interesting.
In general, Gillispie’s recruiting ranking is fascinating, as she was #31 in the country when she transferred from Norman High School to Harding Charter Prep back before the 2019-20 school year started. NHS won the 2019 Oklahoma 6A state title with Gillispie as one of the starters during her sophomore campaign. She scored 59 points in what Oklahoma counts as three state title tournament games, including 16 points and 15 rebounds in the state title game. Gillispie averaged 20.8 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3 blocks per game during that sophomore season, so that’s pretty good.
I’d love to tell you lots of things about how her junior campaign went, but apparently the transfer to Harding moved Gillispie out of the conversation of things that newspapers in Oklahoma want to write about on a regular basis. I don’t have any useful highlight clips for you, but I did find this full game video of a district championship game in February against Heritage Hall. Gillispie is #23 in black and Harding wins easily, so I presume she had a good game?
We get to keep ESPN involved as we move to the Class of 2022. The Worldwide Leader has the 6’0” guard from Carmel, Indiana, ranked #59 in her recruiting class. Seems pretty good to me. Clarke is the #12 ranked guard in the country as well. Here’s what ESPN’s scouts say about her first in May 2018:
Fundamental guard manufactures, displays smooth stroke on jumper; knocks down shots at the arc; rebounds and handles in transition game.
And then in May 2019:
Skilled guard with versatility on the perimeter; executes in half-court sets, moves off the ball, keeps the defense honest with range, quick release at the arc; competes on both ends of the floor.
Both scouting reports are annotated as coming from the same scout, and that’s important to note that it’s the same set of eyes figuring Clarke out here.
Here’s a long scouting report from Prep Girls Hoops, although it’s from November 2018, and it’s from a game that Carmel lost by 19.
Clarke was impressive to me once again. At this stage, you kind of know what you’re getting when Clarke is on the floor. She is going to patrol the 3-point line and shoot the ball if she has any type of space. Clarke doesn’t need any room to get a shot off and she doesn’t take poor shots. Length allows her to be pretty solid on defense but right now in her development you can expect her to mainly be shooting the ball, which she does extremely well. Put the ball on the floor a few times but was unable to finish at the rim. Once she adds strength this is something that will take her offensive game to the next level.
I’d like to point out that this is from the very beginning of Clark’s freshman year of high school, and she was “impressive once again” and “you kind of know what you’re getting.” For what it’s worth to you, PGH has Clarke as the third best player in the class in the state of Indiana, with fellow MU prospect Ayanna Patterson coming in at #1.
MaxPreps has data on Carmel High School girls’ basketball, noting them at 15-8 on the season. According to their page for Kate Clarke, she averaged 17.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game in the 22 contests that they have stats recorded. That’s pretty good for a sophomore playing varsity hoops.
I’m not sure how valuable this three-plus minute highlight reel from May 2018 is. It’s from her club team, Indy Magic, so it’s all club team footage. As such, it’s highlights of Clarke against her peers, more or less. You can make an argument that because this is the very tail end of her eighth grade year, it’s not that indicative of what kind of a player she is, and that’s why I’m not sure how valuable it is. I’m also not turning down a three minute long highlight reel especially when it’s the only footage we have available to us.