The ACC enjoyed another impressive year in women's basketball in 2015-2016 with five teams finishing in Sagarin's final top 25 rankings (three in the top 10). Those same five teams (Notre Dame, Syracuse, FSU, Louisville and Miami) made the NCAA Tournament and three of them (ND, FSU and Syracuse) made the Sweet 16 with the Orange making it all the way to the final game.
No matter the sport, recruiting is the life blood of any program. Accumulating impressive talent is a necessary (but not sufficient) requirement in order to have sustained success. Therefore, looking toward next season it may be useful to consider the talent level of the teams in the ACC that Florida State will have to compete against in order to capture an ACC title.
We can use player recruiting rankings as a proxy in order to examine the individual talent level of the teams in the ACC. The chart below details the top 100 and top 50 recruits that appear on the 2016-2017 rosters of each team in the ACC. Therefore the 2016 recruiting classes for each team have been included. The rankings are courtesy of HoopGurlz. There are four players left uncommitted in the top 100 but none of them are reportedly considering ACC schools.
Before we get to the chart a few caveats are in order. First, as we all know recruiting rankings are an inexact science and sometimes players are overrated and sometimes impact players fall through the cracks. However, generally speaking, the best teams tend to dominate the recruiting rankings as well. Secondly, the chart only considers players who will be eligible in the 2016-2017 season. Therefore transfers like FSU's Chatrice White (more on her later) are not considered in the numbers contained in the chart. However, transfers who are eligible for the 2016-217 season have been considered. Third, many international players aren't rated properly because they don't attend American high schools or participate in tournaments (primarily AAU) where they can be seen by talent evaluators. An example is Leticia Romero. Romero is not reflected in the numbers in the chart below because she didn't attend an American high school so she didn't get a fair evaluation. Therefore it is fair to add one to FSU's totals because Romero would have certainly been rated in the top 50 had she attended high school in America. Fourth, the best teams aren't always the most talented because there are other ingredients needed for success beyond talent (coaching, chemistry, luck, experience, etc) but talent is obviously an extremely important condition for sustained success.
With that in mind, the following chart details the players ranked in the top 100 and top 50 that will appear on ACC rosters next year.
The chart helps us form some initial impressions about the conference heading into next year. Notre Dame, Louisville and Florida State will all battle for the top. Syracuse used superior chemistry along with a distinctive style to catch fire at just the right time last year. It will be interesting to see whether the Orange can keep this going or whether they will be a one year wonder. Duke is another talent laden team according to the chart. They underachieved a bit last year missing the tournament. They will be challenged to overcome all of their offseason turmoil to return to the tournament next year. Finally, UNC would have at least four more players included in their total if not for the academic scandal that is currently engulfing their campus. We will have more on the ACC race in the next weeks and months leading up to the season.
Florida State has secured a transfer commitment from F/C Chatrice White formerly of Illinois. The 6'3 White averaged 18.4 points and 9.3 rebounds for the Illini last year earning second team All Big 10 honors as a sophomore. White announced last Tuesday that she had chosen FSU over Louisville and Notre Dame. White is a former McDonald's All-American who was ranked as a 5* player in 2014 (#27 overall) by HoopGurlz.
FSU projected to be a bit thin in the post in 2017 with the impending graduation of center Kai James. White's addition will go a long way toward solving this problem. White is an impact addition for FSU both because of her talent and because FSU had such a need at the position.
After sitting out the next season due to NCAA rules White will have two years of eligibility remaining in Tallahassee.
We will have more coverage of this and other summer developments in the weeks and months leading up to the season.