Posted On: 06/30/19 4:02 PM

**UPDATE** Abby Schulte of Maple Grove announced her commitment July 3 to North Dakota State. She is the 10th player in the class to verbal to a D1 program.**

Things were a little slow getting rolling in the college commitment department for Minnesota’s Class of 2020. The first verbal we’re aware of happened in January when 6’3 post Paige Thompson of Hawley and North Tartan Haugo announced her commitment to MSU-Moorhead. Since that time 15 more players have made their decision public as far as we know, although it is certainly possible there have been others who are keeping things on the down low.

Emily Russo of New Prague and Minnesota Stars Antl committed this week to MSU-Mankato.

The latest to commit was 6’0 Ella Grove of Alexandria and Minnesota Fury UAA who announced her decision this week to attend school at the University of Mary in North Dakota. Grove’s commitment comes on the heels of an announcement by Annie Guentzel earlier in the week. The low-key star from Lakeville South and Southern Minnesota Fury committed to Wayne State University in Nebraska. That brings the total number of verbals to date to 16: Nine in Division 1 and seven in Division 2.

There are two high major commits. #1 Paige Bueckers of Hopkins and Metro Stars Starks is headed for UCONN. She is the top-ranked 2020 in America. The University of Iowa landed #2 Lauren Jensen of Lakeville North and North Tartan EYBL. Two players have committed to the Big East (Creighton, Marquette), two to the Big Sky (Montana State), one to the Missouri Valley (Bradley), one to the Patriot League (Lehigh), and one to the Ivy League (Brown). All seven D II commits are to schools in the Northern Sun conference.

The Class of 2020 is still a little behind the curve but that will likely be rectified following the July viewing period, which normally spurs a lot of announcements in August and September. There will be at least one more high major commitment. That would be #3 Alyssa Ustby of Rochester Lourdes and Fury 2020 UAA, who is weighing multiple big-time offers including one from coach Lindsay Whalen at the University of Minnesota. If Whalen lands Ustby it will mark the second class in a row that the Gophers were able to recruit one of the state’s top three players. Sara Scalia of Stillwater and North Tartan EYBL was #2 in 2019 and is on campus preparing for her freshman season.

Mackenzie Kramer of STMA and Fury 2020 UAA is the latest Minnesotan to commit to Lehigh in Pennsylvania,

How many more will sign on the dotted line?

In our estimation, the 2020 class may produce another 15 Division1 players, although some prospects with scholarship offers may opt for Division 2 instead. That’s what 5’11 forward Emily Russo of New Prague and Minnesota Stars Antl did last week when she decided to play close to home at MSU-Mankato. It is a choice we are seeing more often now. Rather than play far away from home in a lower D1 program, athletes are choosing D2 programs where the caliber of play is comparable, the degree is just as valuable and mom and dad can come to most of their games. In the past we have seen many D1 players transfer home after a year or two.

Others have a decision to make between basketball and another sport. The most interesting of those is probably #18 Ava Hill of Mesabi East and North Tartan EYBL. The athletic guard has a couple of D1 options so far in basketball, but has countless offers to run track for the most high profile programs in the nation. She finished second in the country last year in the 800 so this shouldn’t be surprising.

Here’s a summary of the 2020 commitments heading into July.

DIVISION 1 COMMITMENTS

#1 Paige Bueckers – Hopkins, Metro Stars Starks (UCONN)

#2 Lauren Jensen – Lakeville North, North Tartan EYBL (Iowa)

#4 Mackenzie Kramer – St. Michael-Albertville, Fury 2020 UAA (Lehigh)

#5 Mallory Brake – Hastings, North Tartan EYBL (Creighton)

#7 Liza Karlen – Stillwater, Metro Stars Starks (Marquette)

#15 TeeTee Danso – Simley, Metro Stars Starks (Bradley)

#24 Sydney Stensgard – Simley, Fury 2020 UAA (Montana State)

#33 Taylor Janssen – Rosemount, Fury 2020 UAA (Montana State)

Paige Thompson of Hawley and North Tartan Haugo was the first of the 2020s to verbal. She committed to MSU-Moorhead.

DIVISION 2 COMMITMENTS

#8 Emily Russo – New Prague, Stars Antl (MSU-Mankato)

#30 Taya Hakamaki – Cromwell, Northern Lights (UM-Duluth)

#39 Annie Guentzel – Lakeville South, Southern Minnesota Fury (Wayne State)

#47 Paige Thompson – Hawley, North Tartan Haugo (MSU-Moorhead)

#51 Ella Grove – Alexandria, Fury 2020 UAA (U of Mary)

#54 Karley Motschenbacher – Park Christian, North Tartan Haugo (MSU-Moorhead)

#84 Haylee Wheeler – Lakeville South, Stars Antl (UM-Crookston)

*Grace Kirk of Duluth Marshall was a highly-rated player in the 2020 class but was removed from the Prep Girls Hoops rankings at her family’s request. She has committed to Brown University.

Top photo: Point guard Lauren Jensen of Lakeville North committed to the University of Iowa. The #2 player in the Class of 2020 plays AAU ball for North Tartan EYBL. (Photo courtesy of University of Iowa) Other photos courtesy of the players’ Twitter accounts.