In other words, there's a post, there's a wing, there's a point guard, there's a shooter. Joslyn Massey from Michigan, April Wilson from Kentucky, Taylor Manuel from Missouri, and Hayden Hamby from Alabama are the 4. They won't be on the Boilers' roster this-coming season, these are (again) the class of 2012 coming out of high school.
While reading up on the 2012s, I took a quick review of HoopGurlz' ratings of the Big 10 classes back to 2008--2008 now being seniors in college, assuming they've come straight through without injuries, redshirts, etc. etc. Here's a composite of their rankings of the 2008s through 2011s who for the most part make up the school's rosters today.
1. Ohio State. No surprise here. All 4 of the Buckeyes recruiting classes are ranked in the top 30 at #17 (2011), #19 (2010), #29 (2009) and #25. I used a point system based on 50--#1 gets 50 points, #50 gets 1 point--and the Buckeyes add up to 114 points on that basis. It's best class, according to Hoopgurlz, is it's incoming freshmen.
2. Minnesota. OK, you can get up off the floor now. That's right, Minnesota, all 4 of whose recruiting classes from 2008 to 2011 were rated at #23 (2011), #46 (2010), #34 (2009) and #16 (2008). That #16 are now seniors--Kiara Buford, Jackie Voigt and Brianna and Nicole Mastey. To say the 2008s have been a disappointment is, of course, a gross understatement. But Gopher fans probably believe in their hearts that the talent is still there, so who knows. With the #5 point guard nationally in the class of 2011 coming in to take charge, maybe if everybody gets better....
The 2010s, rated #34, include Kionna Kellogg, Shonte Clay, Sari Noga and Micaella Riche, who have the potential to be better than the 2008s unless the 2008s indeed pick it up in their senior year.
The 2009s, rated #46, include Katie Loberg, Leah Cotton and Amber Dvorak--the 1st 2 juniors while Dvorak is officially a redshirt sophomore.
The 2011s, rated #23, are Rachel Banham and Kayla Hirt.
The 2012s, for the record, are as yet unrated (HoopGurlz will eventually rate a top 60 and it is this rating that the Gophers have been in for all of the past 4 years. Only Ohio State and Purdue have done the same. But the 2012s, as you will recall, are Shayne Mullaney and Mikayla Bailey. Nothing that Jackie Johnson couldn't boost up into the top 40 again.
3. Purdue, with a #46, #41, #21 and #20, and now of course that #10 for next year. Nice trendline.
4. Illinois based mostly on a #3-rated class in 2009, one which seems unlikely to fulfill such a lofty prediction.
5. Iowa based mostly on 2011's #12-rated class led by Samantha Logic, the #10-rated player in the country in her class.
6. Northwestern who is coming on like gangbusters with a "close" rating last year (2010) and #14 this year. Northwestern's freshman class includes a 6-5 post, a 6-2 wing and a point guard from the Canadian national 17U team. Then the sister of the highly-regarded 6-2 wing is also transferring in. So look out.
7. Penn State but that's based entirely on the 2009s, now their junior class.
8. Michigan State, believe it or not, though at least the 2009, 2010 and 2011 classes have all been mentioned, but never as a highly-rated class.
9. Wisconsin got a couple of mentions in 2009 and 2010.
10 and 11. Indiana and Michigan have received no mentions of any kind through the past 4--now 5--years.
If recruiting were an exact science, then the Big 10 standings should look just like this list. But of course you come a cropper right away there at #2 in trying to do that. The Gophers #2? That would be a shocker. The 2008s would have to turn into world-beaters in their last shot. And who's to say that Kiara Buford, with a great new point guard, couldn't score 20 points a game and cut her turnovers in half?
But it seems more likely that the pre-season dope will run something like this. #1 will be Ohio State, same as their recruiting ratings. Then will come Iowa (#5), Michigan State (#8) and maybe Purdue (#3). After that it's a crap shoot, which means that nobody knows if the Big 10 has even 5 NCAA tournament caliber teams.
Given their recruiting results over the past 4 years, the Gophers should have as good a shot at #5 as anybody. Expecting as much means that you think Rachel Banham is a game-changer and, again, maybe Kiara Buford will really blossom after all. That and then Katie Loberg and Jackie Voigt will be better in supporting roles, and ditto Brianna Mastey or perhaps Kionna Kellogg proves to be a diamond in the rough that was the 2010s.
The pressure, of course, should be on Pam Borton and not on Rachel Banham or Kiara Buford. But I'll put it on all 3 and say, hey, the talent is there. 5th place ought to be the least that Gopher fans will accept for 2012.