GoDuke Weekly l www.GoDuke.com/gdw
By A.J. Carr Bright October sunlight filtered through the
gym windows, further illuminating a basketball court in Duke’s practice facility that was already aglow with sparkling veterans and future stars. Along with returning players from last season’s
30-6 women’s team was the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class, perspiring purposefully in a pre- season workout. Ultimately, these freshly minted rookies will
be measured by their production. But the potential of McDonald All-Americas Chesela Gray, Richa Jackson, and Haley Peters, plus highly regarded Tricia Liston and Chloe Wells, heighten Duke’s hopes for immediate and more long-term success. The diverse group brings varied perimeter and
post skills, yet all possess one needed element: good shooting strokes. “They give us more ability to score and we
needed that,” said fourth-year coach Joanne P. McCallie, whose 2010 ACC champs thrived on de- fense, but at times lacked offensive clout. Selective and relentless in recruiting, McCal-
Feature of the Week Five Fab Freshmen Bring Varied Perimeter and Post Skills to D-First Blue Devils
lie and her staff signed every player they targeted, several of whom had long aspired to play at Duke. The result is a “really balanced class” with multiple assets.
“They are quick, athletic, good shooters, confi-
dent ... with a higher basketball IQ as well,’’ said Mc- Callie, yet cognizant the transition from high school hoops to Division I’s highest level requires an adjust- ment.
Now the game is quicker. Now it is faster,
more intense, more physical and the schemes are sophisticated. Adapting to McCallie’s man-to-man, presses, and matchup zone, in particular, demand discipline, toughness, and must be learned rapidly -- or a player will see greater pine time than playing time.
YOUNG AND EAGER These rookies seemed eager, determined, and
looked comfortable in the recent drills. Take a closer look at them, starting with Gray, the 2010 Gatorade National High School Player of the Year. A 5-11 guard considering a pre-law curriculum, Gray averaged 16 points, 6.1 assists and 5.1 steals
as a senior in Stockton, Calif. “Strong, one of the best passers in the open
court, wonderful IQ, attack artist and can hit the three,’’ McCallie said. Ranked the No. 4 prospect by ESPN HoopGurlz,
Gray exudes California cool and flashes a a passion for passing and getting teammates involved. Simply put, she has come to play and from a long distance. “I made (other) official visits,’’ Gray said. “I
came here and felt something different between the coaches and team. Something in my heart told me this is where I was supposed to be.” Richa Jackson, No. 6 on ESPN HoopGurlz’ re-
cruiting list, left her native Oklahoma to play for her “dream” team. She had watched former Blue Devil stars like
Lindsay Harding, her favorite Duke player, Alana Beard, Monique Currie and others on TV. She also saw the Blue Devils battle for national titles, only to fall short, at times in heartbreaking fashion. “Hopefully, we can accomplish that goal,” said
Jackson, her eyes already set on bringing the miss- ing NCAA championship trophy to the women’s pro- gram.
“Quicker than a cat; athletic, can score, attack,
play off the bounce,’’ McCallie said of action Jack- son, who averaged 17.6 points as a high school se- nior and can play the No. 3 or No. 4 positions. Haley Peters, a 6-3 swing player from Red
Bank, N.J., also had her sights set on playing for Duke since childhood. She had the basketball skills and smarts --
valedictorian of her senior class -- to get that op- portunity. Now she’s on the same campus with her brother, Casey, who plays for the Blue Devil men’s team.
“I loved Duke when I was little because it’s a
great school and because of basketball,’’ Peters said. “But I loved Coach P, what she is trying to do, the attitude around the program, what they are look- ing to accomplish and thought I would fit in.” Peters, who was rated the 19th top recruit by
ESPN HoopGurlz, averaged 19.8 points and 8.1 boards at Red Bank last year. McCallie revels in her versatility, strength, ag-
gressiveness, competitive fervor and touch from 3-point distance. Speaking of the three, Tricia Liston can light it
up behind the arc, which she demonstrated during practice. On the other hand, play her tight and she’ll take a defender off the dribble. A 6-1 guard from River Forest, Ill., Liston
torched high school opponents for 28.8 points per game as a senior, connected on 55.6 percent of all her field goal attempts and was the No. 33rd ranked
GoDuke Weekly The official online magazine of Duke Athletics
Managing Editors Contributors
Jon Jackson Matt Plizga
Ben Blevins, Lindy Brown Art Chase, Chris Cook,
Ned McGraw, Kristina Morrison Meredith Rieder, Ashley Wolf
Al Featherston Barry Jacobs Jim Sumner
Digital Publishing YUDU
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recruit in the country. “A pure three-point shooter,’’ McCallie said. Chloe Wells is a 5-7 guard from Colton, Calif.,
and all-around athlete. In high school, she earned letters in golf and excelled in track as a triple jumper as well as attracting recruiters with her flair on the basketball court. “She’s a pure point guard, sets the tempo,
distributes the ball, and is an excellent three-point shooter,’’ McCallie said, noting that Wells and Gray assure her of two sharp ball handlers now and in the future.
There are uncertainties, of course. For exam-
ple, these newcomers don’t have an official nick- name yet. Jackson hinted that she likes “Fab Five,” which also was the label long ago placed on a men’s freshman class at Michigan. Regardless of the name, it’s really all about
their game, achieving at a higher level, producing the deeds to equal the promise. How the frosh might blend, mix and match
on the court this year with returning starters led by All-America Jasmine Thomas, hasn’t been deter- mined.
But McCallie relishes the opportunity to put
this basketball puzzle together, blend the old with the new and perhaps create an even brighter hue around the traditionally powerful women’s program.
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