McGraw signs top 5 recruiting class for ND women's hoops

University of Notre Dame head women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Wednesday that four of the country’s top high school student-athletes have chosen to continue their academic and athletic careers with the Fighting Irish, each signing a National Letter of Intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2013.

Lindsay Allen, a 5-7 guard from Mitchellville, Md. (Saint John’s College High School), Kristina Nelson, a 6-3 forward from Buford, Ga. (Buford High School), Taya Reimer (pronounced TAY-uh RYE-mer), a 6-3 forward from Fishers, Ind. (Hamilton Southeastern High School) and Diamond Thompson, a 6-4 center from Wheaton, Ill. (Wheaton Warrenville South High School) all made their official commitments to the Fighting Irish during the early signing period that began Wednesday andcontinues through Nov. 21.

All four student-athletes are rated among the top 75 players in the country, including two in the top 20, by various national recruiting services. This marks the second consecutive year the Fighting Irish have had their incoming class ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation (currently in that spot according to Blue Star Basketball), and it’s a second consecutive consensus top-10 class by all major recruiting outlets (final class rankings will come out following the early signing period), all but assuring Notre Dame will have a Top 25 class for the 17th consecutive year, a streak only two other schools in the country (Connecticut and Tennessee) can match.

“I am really excited about this class,” McGraw said. “We got everyone we needed in this group, and to have back-to-back top-five classes, I think it says a lot about (assistant coach) Niele Ivey and (associate head coach) Carol Owens, our chief recruiters.”

“Notre Dame has used their Final Four success last season to lock in our No. 3 class in the country, making this back-to-back (consensus) top-10 recruiting classes for Muffet McGraw and her staff,” said Chris Mennig, national evaluator for Blue Star Basketball. “Keeping in-state star Taya Reimer has been a priority for the Fighting Irish for quite some time, and Taya will give all the fans in South Bend something to cheer about in the years to come. Lindsay Allen give them another great competitor at the guard position, cut from a similar mold as Jewell (Loyd) and Skylar (Diggins) – she can score in multiple ways (attacking rim, three-pointer, pull-up) – but one of her best traits is her leadership skills. Kristina Nelson is a lefty with asolid build that would be labeled as a ‘banger’ as she is not afraid to mix it up down low. Diamond Thompson is a tall and lanky forward with a decent touch around the rim – still needs to work on her overall strength and polish, but has all the attributes you can’t teach. By the time she becomes an upperclassman with the Fighting Irish, she will prove to be a great addition.”

“For the second consecutive year it looks like the Fighting Irish have notched a top-five signing class,” said Chris Hansen, managing editor for Peach State Media. “Yet again, Coach McGraw has signed one of the truly elite prospects in the class in Taya Reimer. This is an important class as Notre Dame looks to solidify itself as an elite program even as itfaces the inevitable reality of life without Skylar Diggins. But in a lot of ways this class may actually raise the bar as three of the four signees project as multi-year starters but without the pressure of having to play savior asfreshmen with nine players returning next year. The addition of so many front court players is important as you could see this year the Fighting Irish playing that four-guard lineup without a true center. That all changes nextyear, and the other bookend to the roster is a true point guard, which Lindsay Allen surely is, and a very good one.

“While you cannot replace a player like Diggins directly, when you project the depth this team will have beginning next year, the team may actually be tougher to match up with,” Hansen added. “I think this shows that Notre Dame will be a fixture in the elite landscape of women’s basketball and not a ‘once-a-decade, flash-in-the-pan’ Final Four threat.”

Ranked No. 7 in this week’s Associated Press poll and No. 6 in the latest ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, Notre Dame (1-0) will tip off the home portion of its 2012-13 schedule at 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday when it plays host to Massachusetts inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. At that game, the Fighting Irish willhold several special events to honor military veterans, as well as hold a pregame ceremony to honor junior Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary’s Catholic) for her play with the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team, which reached the Olympic quarterfinals for the first time since 1984.

Individual tickets for 2012-13 Notre Dame women’s basketball home games are on sale through the Murnane Family Ticket Office by calling (574) 631-7356 or visiting the ticket windows inside Gate 9 (the Rosenthal Atrium) at Purcell Pavilion, or by going on-line to the official Fighting Irish athletics ticketing web page ( Ticket availability may be limited for some games, so fans are advised to make their purchases in advance when possible.

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