Arizona Wildcats head coach Adia Barnes got the kind of birthday present any college coach wants. On Saturday, Barnes got her first commitment for the 2024 class from Long Island Lutheran High School point guard Lauryn Swann from New York.
Swann has come on late in her career as she has recovered from injuries, including shoulder surgery prior to the 2022-23 season. Being healthy has allowed her to get in the kind of shape that enabled her to improve her skills, including being “quicker both off the bounce and defensively and her shooting numbers have grown as well,” according to ESPN HoopGurlz. The recruiting service states that the senior is edging in on the Top 100 due to her development at one of the top high school programs in the country.
Her overall improvement in both health and skills helped her recruiting pick up. In addition to Arizona, Swann had visits to Georgetown, Wisconsin, Marquette, Clemson, and Missouri.
Swann joined the LuHi squad in the summer of 2022. It has been one of the top programs on the national stage for years, including during Swann’s time there. This year, it has been ranked both No. 1 and No. 2 behind Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.). The Crusaders’ only loss of the year came to Mitty.
LuHi is 16-1 so far this season. On Feb. 2, the Crusaders won their seventh game in a row and their 10th home game in a row stretching back to last season when they were 22-2 overall.
On the club circuit, Swann plays for Exodus EYBL. Both LuHi and Exodus also produced former Wildcat Paris Clark.
In many ways, Swann is like some of the most successful players in the Barnes era: not high on the national radar and with something to prove. Players like Sam Thomas and current Wildcat Skylar Jones were both ranked just inside the top 100 when they signed with Arizona. Thomas was Arizona’s top defender and do-everything glue player for a five-year period that she has called the best five years of her life. Barnes has compared Jones to Thomas, saying she is a better-shooting version of the fan favorite. Now that she is not as hard on herself, Jones also shows the kind of upbeat personality that Thomas was known for.
Even the best player in Arizona history was relatively under the radar. Aari McDonald was ranked just outside the top 50 in high school. In college, despite being one of the top scorers and defenders in college basketball throughout her three years on the court at Arizona, she got little national attention. That only changed over the final six games of her college career when she made the national media take note—and pronounce her name correctly—during the 2021 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Barnes alluded to a shift back toward that philosophy earlier this season. She spoke about how even Arizona’s first McDonald’s All-American, Cate Reese, was more of a blue-collar type of player. And she was the only All-American the Wildcats had when they won the WNIT and got to the NCAA title game.
“I think that...after you have that success, then you start getting McDonald’s [All-Americans] and all this and that—and I think that that’s great—but I think you have to get people that are hungry, have a chip, they really want to be somewhere, really want to develop,” Barnes said after the team defeated Utah last month. “And I think that’s going to shift a little bit the recruiting because I’m not super caught up in McDonald’s this, McDonald’s that, because I think the reality is most come in as a freshman, they’re not ready. And most teams around the country aren’t winning with freshmen. So I think that you have to get players in your program that want to work, that want to get better, and then that you keep and retain to develop, because they won’t be great till they’re juniors or seniors anyway. And so I think that that’s going to be more of an approach I’m gonna take in some situations. Instead of taking like five McDonald’s All-Americans, you take some maybe they are right under the radar, blue-collar, really tough, and are bought in. I think like some of the players that Utah has, you didn’t hear of them and they come out and they play really well. So I think there’s value to that. You see that on Colorado. There’s no superstars. So I think some blue-collar workers that really want to get better and are bought in. So I think that that’s going to be a little bit of shift we have.”
Is Swann the next blue-collar player who sticks around, develops, and helps the program succeed? She seems to tick a lot of the boxes.
Recent highlights of Swann’s game can be found on her HUDL profile.