Hammond picks UofL over UConn

Jeff Walz proved again Tuesday that he's one of the nation's best recruiters, beating out Geno Auriemma and UConn for the commitment of Sara Hammond, the No. 12-ranked prospect in the Class of 2011.

A year after signing one of the Top 5 recruiting classes in the nation, Louisville women's basketball coach Jeff Walz proved against Tuesday that he's one of the best recruiters around.

Sara Hammond, a 6-2 forward from Mount Vernon (KY) Rockcastle County, announced Tuesday that she will attend Louisville next year, spurning a late charge from Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma.

Hammond, the frontrunner for Ms. Basketball honors, recently narrowed her list to Louisville and Uconn, eliminating Western Kentucky and Vanderbilt from consideration. She made official visits to both schools and last week hosted in-home visits from both programs.

Nobody has beaten UConn on the court the past two seasons, but UofL coach Jeff Walz scored a major recruiting victory over Geno Auriemma Tuesday when Sara Hammond chose the Cardinals over UConn.
Hammond, ranked the 12th-best prospect in the Class of 2011 by Hoop Gurlz, averaged 15 points, 10.8 boards and blocked 120 shots as a junior. She led Rockcastle County to the Sweet 16 semifinals last season before losing to Scott County.

One of the highest-rated prospects to commit to Louisville, Hammond, who can play inside or out, had a rare quadruple-double last year against Pulaski County, getting 18 points, 17 rebounds, 12 blocks, and 10 steals to lead her team to victory.

Rated the No. 4 power forward by Hoop Gurlz in the nation, Hammond secured her status as one of the nation's top recruits with her outstanding play over the summer. ESPN Hoop Gurlz offered this evaluation:

"The Kentucky Premier star has the physicality that allows her to score on the block, but her ability to involve others while on the perimeter is what's most attractive about [her]. Displaying the ability to find cutting teammates with pinpoint precision on her passes, Hammond was more than comfortable away from the basket. She has the ability to shoot and make the 3-point shot with consistency. The lefty plays at a pace that keeps her under control and one step ahead of the competition."

Brett McCormick, publisher of All Star Girls Report, also has Hammond ranked in the Top 20. McCormick lists the talented forward No. 17 overall.

"She plays really hard, she's a great kid, but she's skilled and can play," McCormick said. "She has all the intangibles and plays hard every play. She has all the skills, but it's all the other things that put her above everybody else."

"She has a high ceiling and she's going to get a lot better," McCormick added. "She's probably going to play the four, but she will play some three. She can step out and shoot the three. She's an athletic kid."

McCormick believes that Hammond will make a quick impact for the Cardinals.

"She should be able to and the reasons I say that is because of those intangible things -- rebound, play hard, defend and score," McCormick said. "I think she will be able to make an immediate impact. Absolutely. I think she could have gone up to Connecticut and made an impact right away, too."

McCormick currently rates Louisville's 2011 recruiting class No. 6 nationally and says there's a chance Hammond's addition could vault the Cardinals into the Top 5 for the second year in a row. Besides Hammond, Louisville has a commitment from Quaneisha McCurty, who is ranked No. 16 nationally by All-Star Girls Report. North Carolina transfer Cierra Robertson-Warren, a former Top 20 prospect, is also sitting out at UofL this year.

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