University of Louisville women's basketball coach Jeff Walz was involved with a bunch of top prospects in the Class of 2015. The Cardinals offered about a dozen of the top 60 players in the country, but needed someone to start the class.
And Taja Cole was happy to oblige.
Cole, a 5-foot-7 point guard from Chesterfield, Va., Lloyd Bird High School, is considered one of the top 30 prospects in the country and was the first piece to the puzzle that ended up being the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.
"It's been a lot of fun," Cole said. "Louisville is great and the coaches are great and when I went there, I just loved the environment. It was so great.
"Everything they do, on and off the floor, everybody is so happy. It just felt like I was at home so I was happy to be the one who started (off the class)."
Cole was an All-State guard as a junior after averaging 26 points, five rebounds and four assists a game for Bird. Her AAU coach, the legendary Boo Williams, said she is "ready to go in and play right away," at Louisville.
"Her basketball IQ has gotten so much better," Williams said. "She's athletic, she can do a little bit of everything and she's going to be able to play in Louisville's style. Jeff is going to like what he's getting in her from day one."
Williams, who runs the Boo Williams All-Star travel team and is a longtime fixture on the AAU scene - both men's and women's - called the class that Walz landed "very special."
"It reminds me a lot of the classes Kentucky has been getting on the men's side," Williams said. "There's a lot of talent there. The only difference is with this talent, it's going to stick around for four years."
Cole is the one who got the ball rolling. She picked U of L over Texas, West Virginia, Florida and more than a dozen other schools.It was then time for Cole to start recruiting. She said this summer than she "wanted to play with the best players," and was talking up U of L to other top prospects.
"Brianna (Jones) is a great player and I can't wait to play on the same team with her and Asia (Durr) is so good. I want to play with the best."
Cole is not only good at the game of basketball but also in life. She started her own clothing line - Team Cole - when she was 13 and the business is still going.
"She started it out on social media and it just took off," her mother, Star Willis, said. "She created her own logo, creates all of her own stuff. She created the design and is growing the brand."
Now, she's helped the U of L women's hoops brand take off as well.