Maya Nnaji, ranked the No. 7 overall recruit in the Class of 2022 by ESPN HoopGurlz, has committed to play for Arizona, she told ESPN on Monday.
The 6-foot-4 forward from Hopkins High School in Minnesota is the second commitment from the rising senior class for the Wildcats, joining No. 18 Kailyn Gilbert, a 5-8 point guard from Seffner Christian Academy in Florida.
Nnaji is the sixth player from the HoopGurlz's top 10 for 2022 who has committed, along with No. 1 Lauren Betts (Stanford), No. 3 Ayanna Patterson and No. 5 Isuneh Brady (both to UConn) and No. 4 Timea Gardiner and No. 10 Raegan Beers (both to Oregon State).
Nnaji's older brother, Zeke Nnaji, also played at Arizona and was Pac-12 freshman of the year in 2020. He was the No. 22 draft pick by the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 18, 2020, and has played in 40 games thus far in his NBA rookie season.
Maya said Zeke's experience through college recruiting helped her and their parents through her process, but she picked Arizona for her own reasons.
"The biggest areas for me were academics, playing style, player development, strength and conditioning, the community, and nutrition, too," said Maya, whose family is vegan. "I want to be a doctor, so having a good pre-med program was really important to me. And having the support staff that will help me balance that heavy load, while also being able to be my best on the court as well."
Nnaji, who also considered Stanford, Maryland, UCLA and Illinois among other schools, said she was leaning toward Arizona even before the Wildcats' run this season to the Women's Final Four.
"But I feel like that kind of sealed the deal as well," she said of the Wildcats' success and the excitement in Tucson, Arizona, around coach Adia Barnes' program. "I kind of wanted to go to a school that wasn't a dynasty already but where they have the tools to get there, so I know I can come there and continue to help build that.
"Coach Barnes can be a great mentor for me as well ... she knows like the stuff I need to work on to get to the next level."
Nnaji said she will continue to work a lot on her perimeter shooting so she can be an effective player as a power forward with range (stretch four).
Nnaji was high school teammates with current UConn guard Paige Bueckers, who was the consensus national player of the year as a freshman this season.
"This week she was texting me, saying, 'I'm really proud of you. Wherever you go, you're going to make an impact. Just continue to keep grinding, keep working,'" Nnaji said. "So, yeah, she's a big role model, she's definitely inspiring. Being able to look up to her and know that she has that heart, and I can do that as well."
Lindsay Whalen keeps mining for (maroon) and gold here at home.
The Gophers women's basketball coach added a fourth home-grown member to her 2022 recruiting class with Amaya Battle's announcement in Instagram that she had chosen the Gophers.
Battled posted a picture of herself in a Gophers uniform, with the message: "Committed."
Battle is a star guard at Hopkins; her brother, Jamison, recently transferred to the Gophers men's team from George Washington.
This gives Whalen a very strong, local 2022 class that also includes Chaska forward Mallory Heyer, Wayzata guard Mara Braun and Eden Prairie forward Nia Holloway.
Heyer, Braun and Battle are all ranked in the top 100 in the 2022 class by ESPN. This spring, the Star Tribune named Braun and Heyer to its All-Metro first team. Battle was part of the second team.
How long does it take to develop talent in Women's basketball? Serious question. I don't follow the game closely enough to know how much incoming frosh are ready to contribute, but it seems like there are highly rated players who don't see a lot of floor time their fist year. I know one personally whose family doesn't expect her to play much her first year.I think this has to be one of the best, if not the best recruiting class Minnesota has ever had. Great to keep in state talent home!
Its definitely different in the womens game, 2 extra scholarships per team and no one goes pro early. Teams are just older. Guards definitely have the best chance to play early, bigs typically take more time. Braun and Battle are players that will play early for sure. I think Holloway and Heyer will take some time and I wouldnt be surprised if Czinano redshirted this year.How long does it take to develop talent in Women's basketball? Serious question. I don't follow the game closely enough to know how much incoming frosh are ready to contribute, but it seems like there are highly rated players who don't see a lot of floor time their fist year. I know one personally whose family doesn't expect her to play much her first year.
With the darkness on the men's side, it's nice to read some good news on the women's side.
Nike live streamed their nationals this week for free so i caught all the north tartan games. Braun and Holloway were really good as well. Braun is one of the more complete players in the country, just does everything well. Holloway has so much potential defensively and she rebounded at a high level. She held Ruby Whitehorn (5 star from Michigan) to 5-21 shooting and Judea Watkins (5 star from California) to 7-24 shooting. This is a dam good class.I watched the Fury championship game. Heyers first half was so good. She reminded me of Ashley Jones from Iowa State. She has more foot speed then I thought. Y’all are going to get sick of me writing about how good this class is.