Update on Mizzou women’s basketball recruitment targets
While the Missouri men’s basketball team has been hot on the recruiting trail, so has the women’s basketball team.
The Tigers added Kaitlyn Gilbert, a transfer from Notre Dame, to the 2022-23 squad, but the 2023 and 2024 classes offer a chance to add top talent from the state and region.
Here are the players that coach Robin Pingeton has received commitments or is targeting:
Players committed to Mizzou
Continuing a recent trend, Pingeton continues to take on the Show-Me State’s best players.
This past cycle, Averi Kroenke and Ashton Judd, the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 6 and 5 Players of the Year, respectively, signed with the Tigers.
Other state players are also on the way.
Grain Valley’s Grace Slaughter and Jefferson City’s Hannah Linthacum have signed on to play for Missouri.
Slaughter is recovering from a torn ACL during her junior season and is one of the best players in the state, having scored over 1,500 points early in her senior season at Grain Valley. She earned MBCA All-State honors last season, even after missing the end of the campaign due to injury.
Slaughter gained national notoriety on hardwoods beyond Missouri. She was selected to the 2021 Team USA U16 squad and averaged 8.3 points per game in six games played.
She is firmly committed to United, having signed up in 2020. Slaughter is also ranked 47th overall in ESPN’s Top 100.
Linthacum was a Class 5 all-state player after averaging 19 points per game as a junior at Jefferson City. She got involved in Missouri last October.
Linthacum has the opportunity to eclipse 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds for his high school career this coming season. His older sisters, Sarah and Micah, are currently on the MU roster.
Players targeted by Mizzou
While Missouri landed two Class of 2023 players in-state, there are three out-of-state players the Tigers are also in on it for.
One of the biggest recruits the staff are currently targeting is Flower Mound (Texas) High School forward Maddie Cox in the Class of 2023, according to a source. ESPN considers her a four-star forward, writing that she is an agile player who can knock down shots, play in transition and drive to the basket at 6-foot-2.
Not only does basketball run in Cox’s family, but she also has family ties to Missouri. His sister Kaylee plays on the United volleyball team. Another sister, Lauren, won a national championship with Baylor Women’s Basketball in 2019.
Another sought-after prospect is Blue Springs South’s Kendall Puryear, a 6-foot-4 forward in the Class of 2024.
Puryear helped Blue Springs South finish third in the Class 6 tournament. Puryear has offers from Cincinnati, Missouri, Missouri State, Kansas State and Purdue.
The highest-rated rookie is S’mya Nichols, a forward from Shawnee Mission West High School in Kansas. According to ESPN’s Class of 2023 Top 100, Nichols is ranked No. 21 overall.
This summer, Nichols won a gold medal with Team USA’s U18 team at the FIBA Americas Championship WU18 2022.
According to ESPN’s recruiting page for Nichols, she’s touted as an athletic guard who can attack the rim through traffic and score in multiple ways. She has a mid-range game that can extend beyond the arc as well.
Last November, Nichols announced his first eight destinations, including Missouri. She also listed Wisconsin, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, UCLA, Mississippi State, West Virginia, and Kansas.
What this could mean for MU
Having Kroenke and Judd this coming season adds two pieces on the bench who can guard and score respectively. Kroenke improved as a rebounder last season and Judd was a capable player at West Plains.
A recruiting class in 2023 with height in Linthacum and pure offense in Slaughter would take on a new look if Nichols and Cox joined as commits.
Nichols and Cox would be two crucial elements in Pingeton’s movement offense who could play on the wing and extend defenses to the perimeter. Linthacum would pair well with Jayla Kelly, who showed growth at the end of the 2021-22 season.
This class of 2023 would chart a clear future for Missouri women’s basketball, which lost LaDazhia Williams, Aijha Blackwell, Izzy Higginbottom and Kiya Dorroh this offseason through the transfer portal.
Chris Kwiecinski is the sports editor for the Columbia Daily Tribune, overseeing sports coverage for the University of Missouri and Boone County. Follow him on Twitter @OchoK_ and contact him at [email protected] or 573-815-1857.