Duke Women’s Basketball hits a grand slam in recruiting

Ricah Jackson
Ricah Jackson

DURHAM, N.C. - Duke University women's basketball Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie along with recruiting coordinators Samantha Williams and Trisha Stafford-Odom have announced the signing of Haley Peters of Red Bank, N.J., Chelsea Gray of Manteca, Calif., Tricia Liston of River Forest, Ill., Richa Jackson of Midwest City, Okla., and Chloe Wells of Colton, Calif., to a national letter of intent on Wednesday to attend Duke in the fall of 2010 and play basketball.

"Each and everyone one of the players are so phenomenal as people, and each story of them joining the Duke family has been incredible along the way," said McCallie.  "So it's hard to wrap my arms around it in terms of how much fun it's been -- in terms of the effort that's put in. Our staff here has been absolutely terrific, certainly Samantha [Williams] and Trisha [Stafford-Odom], spear-heading the entire effort. I can't just single them out because everybody on staff, whether it was Al [Brown], Bobby [Sorrell], Kevin [Lehman], Sarah [Smoak] or Kate [Senger].

The five-member group is ranked No. 1 nationally by ESPN HoopGurlz in the class rankings and is the best recruiting class in Duke's school history with four student-athletes in the top 33 of the ESPN HoopGurlz rankings, including No. 4 Gray and No. 6 Jackson.

"It really is one of those incredible team deals -- everybody coming together, everybody playing their role to recruit these great women," said McCallie.  "And then these great women coming on board, being decisive with their decisions, being clear about their time tables, being clear about their passion for Duke, sometimes taking multiple visits at their own expense. It's truly been one of the most amazing and unique experiences I've gone through in recruiting and I think that this class has an opportunity to have an incredible career together."

Here is a closer look at each future Duke student-athlete.  The signees are listed in order of when they committed--

Haley Peters
6-3  *  Guard/Forward  *  Red Bank, N.J. (The Peddie School)

Rankings: No. 9 (Blue Star Report), No. 18 (ASGR), No. 19 (ESPN HoopGurlz), No. 23 (Collegiate Girls Basketball Report)

New Jersey Prep and Mid-Atlantic Prep League Player of the Year in 2009 ... three-time NJ Prep Division First Team All-State ... two-time Mid-Atlantic Prep League First Team All-League ... has totaled 1,028 career points ... averaged 17.8 points, 11. 6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.1 blocks as a junior ... totaled a career-high 34 points on 17-of-20 field goals against Lawrenceville in just over half a game ... led her squad to a 24-2 record and No. 43 ranking by ESPN Rise ... two-time Sporting News Honorable Mention All-America ... attended the Nike Skills Academy in 2009 ... a 2009 Boo Williams Invitational All-Tournament team selection ... Girls MVP of the 26th Eastern States Invitational ... 2008 Myrtle Beach Holiday Invitational All-Tournament team ... as a sophomore, averaged 12.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.8 steals ... led Peddie to a 22-4 record ... First Team All-League for the N.J. Mid-Atlantic Prep League ... for her freshman year, averaged 10.0 points, 11. 8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals ... team posted a 17-10 overall record ... named New Jersey Prep Rookie of the Year in 2006-07 ... Newcomer of the Year for the N.J. Mid-Atlantic Prep League ... played for the Philadelphia Belles AAU Nike Sponsored team from 2007-09 ... her brother, Casey, is a junior on the Duke men's basketball team.

McCallie on Peters:
"Haley to me is so intelligent, so hard working and yet so prideful in the sense that she wasn't going to just choose Duke because she had a family member here. For Haley, it was about finding her fit and we are so grateful that she found her fit here at Duke. On the court, versatility and toughness are the two things that really frame her. Haley is a fierce competitor -- I've seen her hit tough shots, situation shots. The tougher the situation, the better Haley is going to perform. She'll play the three and the four. Who knows, by the time she's done with Duke she might play some point. I'm very serious about that; she really is a 1 through 4. Her work ethic and competitive nature separates her. She's incredibly committed to Duke, to the whole academic side and the whole athletic side."

Chelsea Gray
5-11   *  Guard  *  Manteca, Calif. (St. Mary's High School)

Rankings: No. 4 (Blue Star Report), No. 8 (ASGR), No. 4 (ESPN HoopGurlz), No. 5 (Collegiate Girls Basketball Report)

Two-time Parade Third Team All-America ... her St. Mary's squad is preseason ranked No. 1 in the nation by HoopGurlz ... the 2009 Stockton Hall of Fame, California Junior, Comcast Sports and Stockton Player of the Year ... has taken 24 charges in three years, while totaling 1,619 career points ... her St. Mary's squad was the California State Champions and won the Division II CIF Tournament in 2009 ... named Stockton Record Player of the Week seven times ... as a junior, averaged 19.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.4 steals ... hit 53.3 percent of her field goals ... 2008 California State Player of the Year ... participated in the Nike Skills Academy in 2008 and 2009 ... played for the Nike AAU Team California Storm and Team Taurasi ... selected the 2008 Farmers Insurance Student-Athlete of the Year  by Comcast Television ... Cal Hi Sport First Team selection ... her sophomore year, averaged 17.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 4.9 steals ... 2008 Stockton Player of the Year ... earned Arizona Grand Resort All-Tournament Team honors ... Cal Hi Sport Athlete of the Month selection ... as a freshman, averaged 11.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.8 steals ... MVP of the West Coast Jamboree in 2007.

McCallie on Gray:
"Chelsea's strength is incredible -- she is a powerful guard who can play off the bounce on any occasion, can shoot the pull-up jumper, can drop the three and can defend with great savvy. To me she's a point essential point guard, but she can play 1, 2, or 3. The reason why I say she's a point essential point is because having the ball in her hands is a good thing with her incredible passing ability. Her size and athleticism give her great freedom in terms of where to play on the floor. She's also a great rebounding guard with her size and strength. To me she's one of the best guards in the country; Chelsea has truly separated herself."

Tricia Liston
6-1  *  Guard  *  River Forest, Ill. (Fenwick High School)

Rankings: No. 46 (Blue Star Report), No. 62 (ASGR), No. 33 (ESPN HoopGurlz), No. 28 (Collegiate Girls Basketball Report)

Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year in 2009 ... two-time First Team All-State by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times and Associated Press ... Pioneer Press Player of the Year and Suburban Life Player of the Year as a sophomore and junior ... two-time Eastern Suburban Catholic League Most Valuable Player ... All-Area Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times  in 2007-08 and 2008-09 ... three-time ESCC All-Conference ... and as a junior, averaged 22.1 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.3 steals ... hit 38.3 percent from three-point land ... notched 20 or more points in 23 contests, while posting 30 or more points in four contests ... played only 21.0 minutes a game ... totaled a season-high 36 points and eight rebounds against Hinsdale Central ... MVP of the Niles North Thanksgiving Tournament ... two-time All-Tournament selection at the Dundee Crown Christmas Tournament and the Niles North Thanksgiving Tournament ... averaged 21.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists as a sophomore ... her freshman year, averaged 10.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

McCallie on Liston:
"Tricia is one of the best shooters I've ever seen in the game of basketball.  She has a purity to her shot, a savvy and an IQ in terms of when to take the shot. Tricia does not rush, she's a very patient player -- she plays off the catch a lot, but she can play off the bounce as well. She's more of a two guard, like a 2-3; I don't she her running to much point guard.  Tricia is somebody who has great respect for Duke and wanted the opportunity to play at Duke, while wanting to impact our program right away. She was very patient through the process and was very decisive when we got to that point where we were able to offer her a scholarship. She accepted and was very decisive.  She is a very fun person, and I'm just really excited to have her coming to Duke."

Richa Jackson
6-1  *  Forward  *  Midwest City, Okla. (Midwest City H.S.)

Rankings: No. 12 (Blue Star Report), No. 6 (ASGR), No. 6 (ESPN HoopGurlz), No. 25 (Collegiate Girls Basketball Report)

A 2009 Big All-City First Team, Oklahoma Super 5 All-State, First Team All-State Tournament and Jenks Tournament MVP selection ... her Midwest City squad is preseason ranked No. 16 nationally by HoopGurlz ... a two-time Mid-State MVP ... has scored 1,066 career points ... a 2008 Big All-City Player of the Year honoree, while being named Jenks Tournament MVP, First Team All-State Tournament and MVP of the Springfield Tournament ... as a junior, averaged 15.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 3.9 steals ... hit 56.6 percent of her field goals ... led her squad to a 26-1 overall record and was the runner-up at the State Championship ... selected to the Jenks All-Tournament team in 2007 and the Harrah Tournament MVP in 2006 and 2007 ... her sophomore year, averaged 17.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.6 steals ... had a field goal percentage of 57.6 ... her team finished with a 25-2 record and advanced to the final four of the State Championship ... as a freshman, averaged 15.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.9 steals in only 14 games played ... played for the KC Selects club team in the summer of 2008.

McCallie on Jackson:
"Richa is a power player, a fantastic athletic power player. She is like Joy [Cheek] because she can shoot the three ball with ease - piece of cake for her.  She can play off the bounce with ease, she can pull stuff on the block with ease, she can run clear outs, can drop every run to the baseline and go one-on-one against her opponent. I think that's the best way to describe Richa.  She can play away from the basket or she can play in the paint.     She went through the entire process of recruiting and had lots of visits to take, lots of pressures placed on her by many, many people -- yet all Richa could talk about was her love of Duke and wanting a great education.  She mentioned Alana Beard in the process -- somebody who she just admired so much. She handled her recruiting so beautifully considering the pressures put on her. It was amazing to watch her and when she announced Duke that was a very special time for us because she had been through an awful lot; it had been a very long process."

Chloe Wells
5-7  *  Guard  *  Colton, Calif.  (A.B. Miller H.S./Apex H.S.)

Rankings: No. 36 (Blue Star Report), No. 37 (ASGR), No. 62 (ESPN HoopGurlz), No. 26 (Collegiate Girls Basketball Report)

The 2008-09 Tri-Eight Player of the Year ... led Apex to a 24-0 record in the regular season before falling in the second round of the playoffs ... as a junior at Apex H.S., averaged 19.1 points a game ... All-Conference First Team selection ... NCPreps.com All-State honoree ... attended A.B. Miller H.S. as a freshman and sophomore ... two-time CIF-SS 2AA, The Press-Enterprise, San Bernardino Sun and San Bernardino Daily Bulletin Player of the Year ... Citrus Belt League MVP as a freshman and sophomore ... led Miller to its first two C.I.F. Conference titles in school history ... two-time All-State and First Team All-C.I.F. selection ... averaged 17.5 points, 5.7 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 4.8 steals her sophomore year ... led A.B. Miller H.S. to a 30-3 overall and 14-0 league record ... posted a triple-double against Redlands with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists ... scored 922 points as a freshman and sophomore ... totaled three other double-doubles on the year ... notched 20 or more points in 10 contests, while registering a season-high 32 points against Redlands East Valley ... as a freshman, averaged 16.2 points, 4.8 steals, 3.4 assists and 2.1 rebounds ... notched eight games with 20 or more points ... led her high school squad to a 33-3 overall record and 14-0 league mark ... won two AAU National Championships and had one runner-up with the team Beyond The Rym ... lettered in golf as a sophomore and track & field as a sophomore and junior ... was All-League MVP in the triple jump as a junior.

McCallie on Wells:
"Chloe has versatility and speaking to her shooting, she's got a long three ball.  She truly can be a two in the sense of coming off screens and shooting, shooting, shooting. She's got a natural point guard mentality in terms of her ability to distribute the ball to post players in particular. Her post entry is very good and she is very savvy about how to get the ball in there. Chloe is a strong ball handler, excellent three-point shooter, one of the top guards in the country, and a real scrapper on defense.  She is a pick-up person on defense -- somebody who could pick up the ball full court and harass it."

The Blue Devils will lose three seniors following the 2009-10 campaign -- Joy Cheek, Keturah Jackson and Bridgette Mitchell -- but will return nine student-athletes to go along with the group of four signed today.  Duke will feature a roster of 13 student-athletes in 2010-11.

"We've got incredible guards in this class," said McCallie.  "The group together just speaks of versatility, work ethic, commitment to Duke, excitement for the future in pursuing championships. They all kind of say the same thing."

"Shooting and being able to shoot off the pass, off the bounce, the variety of ways in which to shoot the three is what this class really speaks to," commented McCallie.  "Of course you start with Tricia there, but they all can shoot the three ball and all can play multiple positions. I'm not a big fan of boxing people into 1,2,3,4,5. This is a group that can move and with all the four-out work that we do - four people on the perimeter a lot -- there is a lot of places to accent their skills and their talents. And that's going to be one of the exciting things, is meshing that all together with the returning group that we'll have."