Whalen signs best class in Gophers' history, top-10 with 4 local players
MINNEAPOLIS - The University of Minnesota women’s basketball season is less than a week old, and Lindsay Whalen has already been through the low of a loss and the high of an exciting future.
On Tuesday, the Gophers opened the season with a 69-66 loss to Jacksonville at Williams Arena. About 24 hours later, Whalen signed four of the best Minnesota high school seniors to play for the Gophers in 2022. All four recruits, Mara Braun, Amaya Battle, Mallory Heyer and Nia Holloway, are top-100 recruits nationally.
They all signed national letters of intent on Wednesday to play for the Gophers, making Whalen’s 2022 class the highest in program history at No. 7 in the country, according to ESPN. Jr. All Stars has Minnesota at No. 4 in the country, as of the end of October. The recruiting process started for all four when Whalen first took the Minnesota job, and was still a point guard for the Minnesota Lynx.
"Sitting here on paper right now, it is the highest recruiting class ever here at the University of Minnesota, for our team, for our program. A lot of work has gone into it, a lot of relationship-building and a lot of time," a giddy Whalen said Wednesday. "It’s been a lot of fun recruiting them too, they’re great kids."
Braun, a 5-11 guard from Wayzata, is ranked as the No. 8 guard in the country and No. 28 player nationally overall. She’s earned all-state honors twice, averaging more than 18 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.5 steals. She’s shooting better than 43 percent from the field, and 40 percent from the perimeter.
Battle is a 5-11 guard at Hopkins, and is the No. 11-ranked guard in the country, also ranked No. 39 overall. Her brother, Jamison Battle, transferred to Minnesota this year and is one of the top scorers for Ben Johnson and the Gophers’ men’s team. Amaya averaged 14 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals a game last season, earning all-state honors last year.
Heyer is a 6-1 forward from Chaska and is the No. 11-ranked forward in the country, also the No. 55-ranked overall player. In her career for the Hawks, she’s averaged 17 points, nine rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.4 steals.
Holloway is entering her fifth varsity season at Eden Prairie and has averaged 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and nearly three steals per game in her high school career.
They’re all Twin Cities natives, and they’ll all be Gophers next year for Whalen.
"I expect them to have big impacts on our team. I know they want to come in and compete, they all want to play and they want to win, so it’ll definitely be good," Whalen said.