With about 6-weeks to go before the November National Signing Day, Cal women’s coach Teri McKeever isn’t leaving much suspense for the last minute. She picked up another early verbal commitment from a top-10 recruit, this time it was #8 Kelly Naze out of Colorado, marking her 4th verbal commitment in the class of 2012.
Naze will fill a very important spot for this Cal roster, as she is a phenomenal breaststroker. After the graduation of current Cal junior Caitlin Leverenz, Cal won’t be left with a ton of breaststroke depth (and even this season, with Leverenz focusing on the 200 and the IM’s, it leaves only freshman Yvette Kong to hold down the 100).
But the young swimmer out of Colorado will bring to Berkeley bests of 1:01.3/2:13.10 in the two breaststroke races, with a year left to go to improve those times.
She’s extremely versatile, and also goes a 53.7 in the 100 fly and a 50.1 in the 100 free, either of which could be killer events for her as a freshman. Her weak stroke, if she has one, is the backstroke, which coach McKeever – the hottest women’s backstroke coach in the country right now – should be able to shortly rectify and turn Naze into an even better IM’er (she’s already got bests of 2:00.1 and 4:13.7). It’s a lofty standard for anyone to develop into, but Naze is very similar to the afore-mentioned Leverenz, only maybe as a slightly better butterflier and a better sprint breaststroker than distance.
Either way, she’s another well-fit piece to a potential Cal dynasty over the next four years or so. Looking at scholarship numbers, this is now four big-time recruits that they have brought in for next year. That’s offset by the graduations of Liv Jensen, Sara Isakovic, Colleen Fotsch, and some combination of NCAA qualifiers Shelley Harper and Katherine Raatz. The assumption is that that combination is a pretty even scholarship swap, and that they will be done in terms of the ultra-elite, top-10 recruits, so don’t be surprised of #1 Bonnie Brandon (who’s expected to make a decision this week) and #2 Jasmine Tosky go elsewhere. Then again, I could be very wrong, and McKeever’s program could be such a draw at this point that she’s getting these swimmers for lower offers than other schools would.
Now we said Kelly Naze is from Colorado. Specifically, she used to swim for the Colorado Stars program where none-other than World Champion Missy Franklin trains (though Naze has since started training with the Denver University Hilltoppers). she was the breaststroker on the incredible relay that also included Caroline Piehl (who is a freshman at Cal this year) and Jordan Mattern (who’s beginning at Georgia). Those are the two schools that Franklin has named as front-runners for her services beginning in the fall of 2013, which I think is no coincidence.
Now, though, Cal has two parts of that medley relay to Georgia’s one. Consider that Cal has only one swimmer who will be headed out as Franklin is coming in, and that’s the big one in Leverenz, meaning that they will have one bullet to use on next year’s recruiting class. I’m sure that even she hasn’t made her decision yet, but the pull will be very strong to Berkeley.
The other recruits for Cal in the class are #3 Liz Pelton, #4 Lauren Driscoll, and #5 Rachel Bootsma.