There are numerous reasons we don’t talk about recruiting much, most of them related to the corner of the sports world we occupy. In college football and high-major men’s basketball (and for the select upper crust in women’s basketball), there are piles of prospect information available. Several websites rank recruits with their infamous star ratings and scouting reports, and most of those also have dedicated reporters to monitor school offers and the prospect’s interest level. The players themselves often help things along by sharing “graphic design is my passion”-caliber social posts revealing their top choices in progressively smaller numbers before announcing their destination.
For those interested in Horizon League women’s basketball, there’s almost none of that. A couple sites, Prep Girls Hoops most notably, help fill the scouting report gap, but they don’t do much offer monitoring. WBB Blog and its mysterious curator, Raoul, is an indispensable resource for its list of commitments, but its work prior to the announcement deals almost exclusively with power conferences.
So what do we have? Mostly, just a series of high school players who share their scholarship offers on Twitter and Instagram with boilerplate “after a great call/visit with [coach]…” language followed by, at some point, a commitment announcement. That, combined with some loose scouting reports from PGH and others, is about it. We know there was some mutual interest at some point thanks to the offer, but the degree of interest (from either party) is generally unknown until the player commits (usually) somewhere else. Occasionally, prior to a commitment, a player will start stacking offers from high majors, leading to reasonable assumptions of their mindset. But most of the rest of it is a black box other than to the people at the center of the process.
All of that is a long-winded way of saying that there could be an entirely separate post just for the caveats that need to be attached to what we’re about to do. With 300 or so words before this paragraph, we’ve almost arrived there already.
Oh, one more thing: Wisconsin post player Paulina Hernandez, Cleveland State’s only 2023 signee as of this writing, gave zero indication of a connection to the Vikings prior to her verbal. It’s entirely possible that CSU’s next high school player is invisible to the outside world right now.
With all of that said, is examining the scholarship offers that Chris Kielsmeier and his staff are known to have made to 2024 prospects a fool’s errand? Probably.
Let’s do it anyway.
Jumping into the 2024 Pool
The Vikings tend to extend offers in bursts, and not surprisingly, the largest of those bursts typically comes in a couple different waves over the summer, when the AAU megashowcase circuits are in full swing.
This past summer, those offers went to both 2023 and 2024 prospects, though by mid-September, following Hernandez’s commitment and the loss of Dutch prospect Iris Vennema to Ball State, the staff seemed to unofficially pivot into 2024 just ahead of the early signing period for 2023 entrants. That likely means that the transfer portal will once again factor heavily into stocking the Vikings’ roster for next season. CSU certainly hasn’t been shy about using the portal – nor should they be, given that most of the current roster, including top players like Brittni Moore, Amele Ngwafang, and Gabriella Smith, arrived through the portal or indirectly though the juco ranks after playing at a different Division I school.
The Known 2024 Offers
I decided to separate Cleveland State’s outstanding offers to still-uncommitted players (again, the ones we’ve seen advertised on social media, I can’t emphasize that enough) into an early wave and a later wave. We don’t know how things are really going with any of these prospects of course, but the timing of the offers at least presents a faint clue: if an early-offered player isn’t interested, a later offer might represent the coaching staff moving on to their next choice at a position. It’s a bad idea to read any deeper than that broad sentiment – after all, there are numerous other reasons why someone might receive an offer in the fall instead of the summer – but it still seemed appropriate to highlight the time dimension to present as full of a picture as is available.
PG – 5-8 – Batavia HS
PGH state rank: 10 (IL)
Other offers: Wright State, Butler, Bradley, Evansville, DePaul, UAB, Illinois State, NIU, Central Michigan
Carlson is touted as an explosive ballhandler who loves to attack the rim, as well as a lockdown defender on the other side of the floor. She seems like an ideal fit for how CSU likes to play, though she’s starting to get some high-major interest.
PG/SG – 5-7 – Pikeville HS
PGH state rank: 2 (KY)
Other offers: UNC Wilmington, Radford, Chattanooga, Akron, Southern Miss
Another high-motor point guard, Rowe is a bit different stylistically than Carlson, as she’s more of a shooter and an occasionally-flashy passer, though she does both of those things at an extremely high level – she shot 48.7 percent from three last season.
SG – 5-9 – Toledo Christian Schools
PGH state rank: 5 (OH)
Other offers: Elon, Pittsburgh, Kent State, DePaul, North Dakota, Bradley, Youngstown State, Eastern Michigan, Murray State, Wright State
Though every Ohio-based Horizon League school is interested in the in-state product, pure shooter Braden may be another case of a player slipping away to the high major ranks as her stock rises and interest ramps up.
C – 6-2 – Barrington HS
PGH state rank: 16 (IL)
Other offers: Kent State, Drake, Milwaukee, St. Thomas, Western Michigan, Illinois State, Murray State, Elon, UIC, Bradley, Dayton, Valparaiso, Loyola
Very few people are going to say no to a highly-ranked post player who has range out to the arc and can handle the ball, as evidenced by O’Riordan’s growing offer list. To this point, she seems within the Vikings’ range, but there’s also a ton of competition.
SG – 5-10 – Saint Viator HS
PGH state rank: 11 (IL)
Other offers: Evansville, Saint Louis, Murray State, St. Thomas, NIU, UIC, Omaha, Valparaiso, Bradley
Bergstrom is a bit of an exception as someone who has gotten attention as a defense-first perimeter player who is capable of slowing down even 4s and 5s if caught in a bad matchup. She has great length and athleticism, along with a very good shot.
PF – 6-0 – Hortonville HS
PGH state rank: 9 (WI)
Other offers: Milwaukee, DePaul, Indiana State, St. Thomas, Green Bay, Toledo
Peppler is the younger sister of Milwaukee freshman point guard Kamy Peppler, so the Panthers will likely be tough to beat in this case. Nevertheless, with a big frame, good athleticism around the basket and the capability to take over games for stretches, she’d fit in a lot of programs if she decides to go elsewhere.
SF – 5-10 – North Ridgeville HS
PGH state rank: 9 (OH)
Other offers: IUPUI, Wright State, Youngstown State, Eastern Michigan, Akron, Niagara, Radford, Ball State, Providence, Murray State
Kingery, out of Isabella Geraci’s high school, is considered an elite sharpshooter who can also attack the rim, a skillset that maybe veers more towards Destiny Leo than Geraci’s athletic, defense-first game. She’s another player whose stock seems to be on the rise, though CSU does read as being in the mix.
PF – 6-2 – Bay Port HS
PGH state rank: 15 (WI)
Other offers: Bradley, Evansville
Another – stop me if you’ve heard this before – big, yet athletic, prospect from Wisconsin, offered by a team that seems to relish those types. McDermid is primarily considered to be an under-the-basket player, though some think her shot is underrated.
PF – 6-2 – Laurel School
PGH state rank: 11 (OH)
Other offers: Purdue Fort Wayne, George Washington, Elon, Bradley, Dayton, Miami, Canisius, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Toledo, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Akron
Holley is a hard-working local player who is billed as an absolute demon when it comes to rebounding and contesting shots. Though she’s in high demand, it is at least worth mentioning that Holley took a visit in October (it’s a very short trip obviously, but she still didn’t have to make it).
CG – 5-8 – Carroll HS
PGH state rank: 10 (IN)
Other offers: Purdue Fort Wayne, Eastern Michigan
Though on the smaller side, Harness is another offensive sparkplug with logo range. Her attacking game and her ability to finish through contact are developing, but still a bit of a work in progress. She’s deceptively a stat sheet stuffer as well, averaging five rebounds and three steals per game as a sophomore.
SF – 6-0 – Incarnate Word Academy
PGH state rank: 6 (MO)
Other offers: Southern Indiana, Cal Poly, Drake, Illinois State, Lipscomb, Illinois, Kansas City, Saint Louis
Janes is a wing with a versatile skill set, who can make plays inside and score outside, another broad player type that Cleveland State values (think Barbara Zieniewska here). While Janes does have an Illinois offer, she seems to still be a bit off the radar.
C – 6-6 – Lincoln-Way East HS
PGH state rank: 20 (IL)
Other offers: North Dakota, Butler, Rice, Purdue
It’s hard to imagine that a 6-6 player with good skill and athleticism will end up anywhere other than the high major ranks, but Smith was one of CSU’s more recent offers, and they felt comfortable shooting their shot on a likely game-changer.
C – 6-2 – Ryle HS
PGH state rank: 10 (KY)
Other offers: Northern Kentucky, Miami, Xavier, East Tennessee State, Akron, Toledo, Eastern Kentucky, Marshall
Though often listed as a center, Baker is described as a stretch 4 who can play with her back to the basket but also step out for a mid-range. Notably, Baker is close friends with Rowe, and while that doesn’t necessarily decide college choices, it can’t hurt that Cleveland State is on the short list of schools with offers out to both of them.