Coming off his first bid to the big dance at Northwestern, Joe McKeown has been hard at work on the recruiting trail to propel the Wildcats to even higher levels of success. McKeown has a trio of recruits in a variety of different positions coming to Evanston for the 2015 season, and he’s already locked up a couple commitments in the 2016 class. Here’s a look at the future of Northwestern women’s basketball:
Jordan Hankins – PG – 3-star – 5-foot-7 – Indianapolis, IN
ESPN.com’s profile on Hankins calls her an “explosively athletic lead-guard with a scorer’s mentality.” She runs the break well and can score in transition. Hankins’ Hudl highlight reel shows off her silky smooth jumper, which helped her set Lawrence North High School’s record for three-pointers in a season with 51 treys. She’s also strong and agile; the Hudl page lists Hankins’ vertical leap at 23 inches and her bench press at 125 pounds. Unfortunately for Hankins, Ashley Deary has the point guard spot locked up for the next couple years, but as a freshman, Hankins may be a legitimate option off the bench. And if we are lucky, the uniforms that Hankins’ team wore in high school will inspire NU women’s hoops to make an alternate set because they look strikingly similar to the men’s team’s shorts from 2014.
Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah – PF/C – 3-star – 6-foot-3 – Rabun Gap, GA
If someone in the freshman class can be a difference maker right away, it’s Kunaiyi-Akpanah. ESPN ranks her as the 17th best post in the 2015 class, and with Alex Cohen’s departure, the Wildcats are thin on the block. Kunaiyi-Akpanah is extremely athletic and has extraordinary potential. She moved to the United States from Nigeria about two and a half years ago and knew little about the game before coming to the US. She quickly developed into a star at Rabon County High School – where she averaged a double-double in her junior season – and garnered interest from Auburn, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Washington, among others. Her highlight tape shows off Kunaiyi-Akpanah’s athleticism and rebounding skills, and it looks like NU is getting a less polished Nia Coffey. Kunaiyi-Akpanah, who was also all-state in track and possesses a 5’0″ high jump – may be Joe McKeown’s next star after time and development.
Amber Jamison – SF – 3-star – 5-foot-10 – Rochester Hills, MI
What’s crazy about the 2015 class is Kunaiyi-Akpanah may not be the most athletic player in it. Amber Jamison is strong, quick and can jump out the gym. As a sophomore, she set the Rochester Adams High School single season record for blocks with 77 swats. The following year, she averaged 15 points, 11 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 3.2 blocks per game to earn all-state honors. Jamison chose NU over offers from Oakland, Marquette and Western Michigan, among others. The Wildcats’ two starting wings are already solidified, as Christen Inman and Maggie Lyon return, but Joe McKeown could use more depth among his off-guards. Lydia Rohde and Maya Jonas saw limited action last season, and Alexis Glasgow is transferring to Penn, so someone needs to step up off the bench. Based on Jamison’s all-around game and ability to score off the bounce, demonstrated in her highlight reel, it would not be surprising for her to absorb some minutes as a freshman.
Bryana Hopkins – SF/PF – 3-star – 6-foot-2 – Schaumburg, IL
Joe McKeown’s 2016 class kicked off with a commitment from the Chicagoland area. Bryana Hopkins – a 6-foot-2 forward from William Fremd High School – committed to Northwestern in February after watching the Wildcats defeat Illinois. At the time, she was averaging 12 points and eight rebounds per game for the Vikings. The “versatile faceup-4 performer with midpost attack,” as described by ESPN.com, also had offers from Arizona State, Wisconsin, DePaul and Denver. Hopkins is a strong defender and rebounder with the potential to play both forwards spots. She’s currently ranked 16th nationally among forwards by ESPN, so the Wildcats got another solid prospect.
Abbie Wolf – PF/C – 3-star – 6-foot-4 – Greenwich, CT
Wolf is the recruit that Northwestern really needed in the 2015 class. She is a true post and would have been the ideal replacement for Alex Cohen down low. Wolf averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds per game in her junior season at Greenwich High School, and she committed to NU in May over offers from Boston College, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, George Washington and many others. Wolf even received some interest from UCONN head coach Geno Auriemma, who attended one of her games in December. Based on her highlight tape, Wolf needs to improve her footwork and offensive skill set, but because of her size, she can immediately protect the rim and contribute on the boards when she arrives in Evanston in 2016.