Summer is recruiting time, and as that fall signing date in November inches closer, prospects about to enter their senior year of high school start to want to clear the deck and decide where they’re going to college just to get that out of the way. Whether that was on Leila Wells’ mind when she announced her commitment to Marquette women’s basketball or not, I can’t really say, but she is the newest Golden Eagle as of Monday afternoon.
Here’s the statement from her tweet, for posterity’s sake:
I first want to thank God for allowing me to play the sports that I love with such a great support system around me! Next, I want to thank all of my parents for bringing me into this world and raising me to be the young woman I am today, I wouldn’t be who I am with out both of your dedication, commitment, love, blood, sweat, and tears through the ups and down of life through this sport! Next, I want to thank my siblings, family and close friends that have always been by my side, been my biggest supporters and my loudest cheerleaders. Last but certainly not least, I want to thank all my teammates, coaches, mentors and trainers that have pushed me to be the best me even when things got hard and kept my head up when I was beginning to doubt myself! Thank you all for everything you have done to help me along this wild journey! With that being said, I would like to say that I will be committing to Marquette University! A huge thank you to Coach Duffy and the amazing Golden Eagle women’s basketball staff and players - for welcoming me with open arms! I can’t wait to get started! LETS GO!!! #MU #GoldenEagles
It’s been a rapidfire recruiting situation for Wells and Marquette. Her offer only came through in late May of this year, and less than a month later, she was in Milwaukee for an official visit.
After an amazing conversation with @CoachMeganDuffy, I am extremely thankful to have received an offer to play basketball for @MarquetteWBB ! Thank you for the opportunity and believing in me! @Legends_Bball @BryceMcKey pic.twitter.com/kAueuw4dYM— Leila Wells (@LeilaRose2024) May 23, 2023
Thank you @CoachMeganDuffy and the amazing Marquette Women’s Basketball staff and players for a truly first-class official visit and an unforgettable experience! @MarquetteWBB @Legends_Bball @BryceMcKey pic.twitter.com/O1etIL94eO— Leila Wells (@LeilaRose2024) June 20, 2023
This is just a guess, but there’s a chance that new assistant coach Khadijah Rushdan played a part in this whirlwind. MU announced that she was on staff in Milwaukee in early May. It’s not crazy to think that she brought Wells to the table in an early meeting, and Duffy took her new assistant’s advice. This tweet from Rushdan in the wake of Wells’ announcement certainly doesn’t put a damper on my rampant speculation.
Wells has been getting scholarship offers dating back to April of 2020 when West Virginia was first through the door, at least according to Wells’ own tweets. Things seems to generally speaking have slowed down for her, with her most recent offers other than Marquette coming from Buffalo (late May) and Central Michigan (late April). Wells did have an offer to play at Xavier along the way, but it was from Melanie Moore, who was relieved of her duties after this past season. I don’t know how you want to read that as “is a Big East caliber player” relative to Moore’s win/loss record with the Musketeers, but there you go.
Whatever direction you want to go with that is up to you, but Wells’ own high school coach called her the best point guard in the state this past season. She made it onto the Michigan Associated Press Division 2 First Team, one of just four underclassmen, so that’s a pretty resounding endorsement. Wells was already the captain of her Chelsea High team as a sophomore, opening up that season by averaging 24 points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals, and if those numbers are holding up, that’s really great stuff.
She’s also a bit of a speedster. That’s the only conclusion that I’m drawing from Wells winning the Michigan 2022 state championship in the 100m hurdles.
Video Clip of my photo finish from the 100m hurdle finals! Won by 0.01 seconds! Love the support from mom in the background! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/IP9921P9VZ— Leila Wells (@LeilaRose2024) June 5, 2022
If she can use that speed while dribbling a basketball as well, then you can easily see how she can be a dangerous player for Marquette.
If you’d like to watch some highlights, I can point you towards Wells’ Hudl page, which was last updated in early March of this year. Here’s the most recent video, because who doesn’t like watching fast breaks? All three in one game, all three on steals by Wells, and she added 17 points, two rebounds, and four assists in the game.
Scholarship chart time!
The addition of Wells alongside Kayl Petersen and Jaeda Wilson for the Class of 2024 gives Marquette three incoming freshmen. That’s a perfectly reasonable number of incoming freshmen to mix into your roster, but there’s a chance that Megan Duffy is not done. Even if she’s holding three scholarships for Claire Kaifes, Liza Karlen, and Rose Nkumu to use their bonus seasons of eligibility in 2024-25, that would still leave the Golden Eagles with three scholarship slots available.
With that said, getting extra heavy in freshmen one year throws your entire system off balance. It’s possible that there could be another freshman to add to the recruiting class between now and the fall signing period.... or perhaps Duffy sits back and takes a look at the transfer portal next spring and adjusts her roster from there.
As far as fit within the roster, that’s a little bit harder to tell at this point. The 2024-25 Marquette roster projects to have just one player to have played more than 100 minutes for the Golden Eagles as I write this, although that could change if any of that Kaifes/Karlen/Nkumu trio return for their COVID bonus seasons. Lee Volker and Bridget Utberg are unknowns for MU at this point, while Skylar Forbes and Halle Vice are still figuring out whether it makes more sense to cut through the AMU on the way to the McGuire Center. One thing we know for sure is that Jordan King will be gone by this time next year, as she’s coming back for her fifth season in 2023-24. As such, adding a point guard is probably a good idea for Duffy and her staff.