By Dylan Manfre, Capital News Service
Baltimore City was home to 22 of Maryland’s 133 Division I women’s basketball players last season, the most of any city or town in Maryland, according to the Sports Roster Data Project at the University of Maryland.
The database is a product of the Sports Data Analysis and Visualization course at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. It includes a database of over 13,800 women’s basketball players from all divisions.
Last season’s players came from 67 towns and cities in Maryland. Baltimore City produced some of the strongest college women’s basketball talent, including LSU’s Angel Reese. LSU won the national championship against Iowa last April in Reese’s first season after transferring out of Maryland.
Baltimore City, with a population around 570,000, may be Maryland’s largest producer of tallent, but the data shows that smaller towns in Maryland also produce women’s basketball players. Ellicott City, with a population of around 76,000 in 2020 according to the U.S. Census, was home to three Division I women’s college basketball players last year.
Maryland women’s basketball head coach Brenda Frese loves recruiting in the DMV. She believes it produces the best talent and wants to keep those homegrown players close to home.
“I feel like the DMV has some of the best talent and leagues across the country, I mean better than any out there,” Frese said. “There’s just a level of basketball in this area that’s second to none. That’s the thing about the DMV, there’s so much high-level Division I talent.”
The 133 players from Maryland represented 26 NCAA Division I conferences last year. Coppin State University, Howard University, Morgan State University and Temple University had the most Maryland natives with five players each.
An established pipeline
Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland, had four alumna at the Division I level last season, including Gigi Cooke, who transferred to the University of Houston after playing at Maryland.
Catholic schools sent the most Maryland players to the Division I level last season. Riverdale Baptist School and Bishop McNamara High School, both located in Prince George’s County, sent seven players each to Division I programs.
Bishop McNamara girl’s basketball head coach Ronald James is entering his first season as head coach of the program. He is familiar with some of the players on his team since he coached them on TeamTakeover, a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) team based in Washington, D.C., that competes against other 17-and-under Amature Athletic Union (AAU) teams in the area.
James said many of his players will be on Division I rosters in the coming years and described a pipeline between Bishop McNamara and Division I women’s basketball.
“We have two seniors on the team, the other is probably going to go to a mid-major Division I school or possibly a Power 5,” James said. “We’ve got a boatload of juniors that are on varsity, they’re slated to go Division I and a freshman who I would consider one of the top-10 persons in the country.”
One of his players at Bishop McNamara, senior Madisen McDaniel, has been playing for James at various levels since she was in fourth grade, he said. McDaniel is committed to playing for the University of South Carolina.
Another Bishop McNamara alumna, Jakia Brown-Turner, transferred to the University of Maryland as a graduate student from NC State.
This season, there are 114 Division I players from Maryland, down from last season’s 133.
Marylanders are represented in different collegiate conferences
There were 24 Marylanders at Power 5 schools in 2022-23. These are institutions in the Big Ten, Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coastal Conference, Big 12 and Pac-12.
The Big Ten had eight Marylanders last season. That will likely increase when four new programs join the conference in 2024. The data shows most Marylanders attend schools outside of the Power 5 conferences.