Harlan County High School has become the center of one of the nation’s top recruiting battles in women’s college basketball in the Class of 2018.
The University of Tennessee became the latest major program to offer a scholarship to Harlan County sophomore star Blair Green when assistant coach Kyra Elzy made a stop at James A. Cawood Elementary School on Monday to watch open gym, according to HCHS coach Debbie Green. The Lady Bears played at JACES while work continues on the Harlan County gym floor.
Kentucky, Louisville, Vanderbilt and Dayton had previously offered scholarships. A member of the Kentucky coaching staff was at HCHS earlier in the fall recruiting period, and Louisville head coach Jeff Walz also visited last week.
Shea Ralph, an assistant coach from Connecticut, the nation’s top program, was at HCHS on Friday.
“This recruiting process has really been very exciting and a bit overwhelming for Blair, for the number one, three and seven preseason ranked teams in women’s college basketball to be recruiting you and all in your gym over the past seven days, makes you think is this really happening,” said the HCHS coach, who is also Blair’s mother. “For the No. 1 team in the nation, UConn, to be recruiting you is really a reality check, and all this has really just made Blair want to work harder.”
The fall recruiting period is a busy time for major college programs, and also a crucial part of a program’s success, according to Elzy, a former Kentucky prep star from Oldham County who went on to play for Pat Summitt at UT and was a member of two national championship teams.
“Players are the lifeline of your program and September is a big month. It’s a month when you can get out and evaluate and have home visits and most importantly cultivate relationships,” Elzy said. “We’ve been in a different city every day from Sept. 9 until tomorrow (Tuesday). We’ve traveled coast to coast.
“Any time you can get back to Kentucky it’s a special place. I was born and raised here, so I always love to recruit my Kentucky girls to Tennessee.”
Green’s said her daughter’s recruiting experience has also been memorable for all the HCHS players.
“It’s also really exciting for all our players because it’s coaches and teams they watch on television. Blair is really taking it in stride, enjoying the process and happy to be sharing the process with her teammates, but taking none of it for granted,” the HCHS coach said. “Blair is very fortunate that every school that has offered would love for her to commit now, but she will be taking several unofficial visits this year to really try and find what school fits her best. They are all dream schools for her. They all compete for national championship, draw the most attendance in women’s basketball and have future pros on their teams.”