By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports
Northwestern State women’s basketball coach Anna Nimz has her National Signing Day check list ready for today. New Demons’ coach Corey Gipson has already started, but admittedly and purposefully, doesn’t have a firm idea of the size of his first NSU recruiting class.
Tuesday, he announced the signing of three transfers, two from the Missouri State program he left to take his first head coaching job two weeks ago, and another from Missouri.
“We’re going after the right guys for the culture of the program. The guys we have targeted, and are aggressively going after, they fit what we’re looking for as a foundation.
“We’re going to exhaust all options,” said Gipson, indicating his first signing class could include players from high school, prep school and junior college along with from the transfer portal.
He said he doesn’t have a set number of newcomers in mind for the 2022-23 roster.
“I really can’t say as far as inventory and what we have. We take it one day at a time and try to actively recruit the right guys. It’s more about what we have in hand right now, and let’s take care of that versus trying to worry about what we’re going to have down the road in regards to numbers. We’re just so excited about going after the right guys and having the right guys interested in us.”
The transfer portal has radically changed the recruiting process. No matter what the sport, Division I coaches have to constantly monitor their own roster, understanding the status of each player, and must be alert to players looking for a new home who might be good additions. The conventional recruiting paradigm has dramatically shifted.
“It’s less about what’s available and more about what’s right for us now. We may hold scholarships for the future. It’s more about (getting) the right guys,” said Gipson.
Nimz’ recruiting focus has moved 180 degrees in a year. Only four players returned in 2021-22 from the 1-19 team in her first season, a roster she inherited and supplemented during the early stages of the pandemic, when there were no recruiting campus visits or any off-campus evaluations. Everything was virtual.
“It’s an incredible turnaround. Last year we were signing an entirely new team, and this year we were able to really focus on pieces to the puzzle,” she said. “Last year, we had to dump all the pieces out of the box and find the ones that fit. This year, instead of signing 1-5, two times over, we are signing a perfect fit at the 4-spot, or at the 3-point. We are able to be very selective.”
Assuming last night’s weather doesn’t derail things in Bossier City today, Nimz expects to sign a high school standout there and will add a junior college point guard and a post player.
“We have a good core group coming back, a group that I think the community can rally behind and be excited about. Ten of our 14 kids from last season were on the Dean’s List or the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll,” she said. “These latest pieces are about complementing the players here.
“The young ladies that are going to continue to move the program forward, we retained all of those. We have a couple who won’t be back, and that’s OK. It allowed us to bring in players we’re really excited about,” she said. “We’re bringing back eight core people who are just tremendous.
“We’re hoping more and more people will buy into these young ladies, and the improvement we showed last year (along with the sparkling academics, the Lady Demons had 11 more wins in Nimz’ second season) and who these players are as young women, and that will help us to continue to progress,” she said.
While he wasn’t specific on the composition of his first team at this stage, Gipson was bullish on one fundamental point.
“This is a great community, and I can already tell from having recruits on official visits, you don’t have to sell this community. It has an unbelievable personality, and rises up at the right times showing hospitality.
“We have one of the best downtowns in the southeast part of the United States, and that has all to do with young men wanting to choose to be in this program. We’ve received A-plus treatment and that’s what it takes to attract a high level of talent. It is a collaborative effort and I want the people to know we truly appreciate it and do not take that for granted,” he said.
“That point is more important than how many scholarships we have and how many we have to fill. That’s going to take care of itself. We’re going to get some guys here and at the end of the day, it will be visible and the proof will be in the pudding.”