November 16, 2018 2:33:33 PM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
The wait was worth it.
On Friday afternoon, Rickea Jackson, the No. 9 recruit in the Class of 2019 according to espnW HoopGurlz, announced on Twitter she will attend Mississippi State for the 2019-20 school year.
Jackson, a 6-foot-2 forward, was the Gatorade Player of the Year from the state of Michigan in 2018. She also was named the Detroit Free Press' Girls Basketball Player of the Year and the Female Athlete of the Year at the 2018 Free Press' Sports Awards.
Jackson averaged 21.9 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.3 steals, and 1.6 blocked shots per game to lead Detroit Edison Public School Academy to a 24-1 record last season. Detroit Edison beat Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 51-34 to win the Class C title.
Jackson is believed to be the highest-ranked signee in MSU women's basketball history.
Former MSU standout Victoria Vivians, who led the program to back-to-back national title game appearances before graduating in 2018, was a five-star prospect who was rated No. 24 in the nation (No. 7 guard) by espnW HoopGurlz.
Jackson's decision ended a week's worth of good news for No. 6 MSU, which Wednesday -- the first day of the early signing period -- announced the signing of Jayla Hemingway, a 5-9 guard from Houston High School in Germantown, Tennessee, who is ranked No. 88; JaMya Mingo-Young, a 5-7 point guard from Louisiana's Loranger who is ranked No. 98 in the Class of 2019; Esmery Martinez, a 6-foot forward at Hamilton Heights Christian (Chattanooga, Tennessee); and Aliyah Matharu, a 5-7 point guard at Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Maryland). Hemingway and Mingo-Young are four-star recruits, while Martinez and Matharu are three-star prospects.
"This class is special!" MSU coach Vic Schaefer said in a statement released by MSU on Friday afternoon. "Not only is it highly ranked and will allow us to continue to compete for championships, but these student-athletes will impact our university, our community, and our state in many different ways.
"I want to thank my staff -- Johnnie (Harris), Dionnah (Jackson-Durrett), and Elena (Lovato) for their tireless efforts in securing yet another top-10 recruiting class. We appreciate so much the trust and confidence given to us by the families of these student-athletes."
Earlier this week, Jackson and Hemingway were two of 50 players named to the watch list for the Naismith High School Player of the Year.
The Atlanta Tipoff Club will announce the player of the year and All-America teams in March.
On Thursday, MSU was No. 19 in espnW HoopGurlz's ranking of the top-20 recruiting classes, according to Dan Olson, of Collegiate Girls Basketball Report.
The addition of Jackson most likely will catapult the Bulldogs up the rankings.
Bret McCormick, of All-Star Girls Report, a national recruiting service, said Jackson's decision to attend MSU elevates Schaefer's recruiting class from No. 11 to a top-five class. He said ASGR has Jackson ranked No. 5 in the Class of 2019 and with a grade of 97, which is a determination of how she projects as a professional.
"She is probably more of a four than she is a three right now, but she is a great athlete," said McCormick, who also is a former college coach. "Vic liked her because of her energy and she is a great rebounder. She is great in the open floor, and her 3-point shot has improved a lot. She is going to be a pro. There is no doubt about it."
McCormick said ASGR also has the other four signees in the class -- Martinez (No. 25), Hemingway (No. 41), Matharu (No. 67), and Mingo-Young (No. 72) ranked in the top 100.
In May, Jackson was named one of 18 finalists for the USA Basketball Women's Under-17 National Team. Olson, a former college basketball coach and a longtime evaluator, described Jackson as an "athletic, versatile perimeter prospect who drains jumpers to the arc. She cleans the glass and attacks coast to coast in the transition game. She manufactures shots, rises on her jumper in the mid-range game with body control to rim, and is a shot-maker who yields results. She is a coveted prospect in the Class of 2019."
Jackson reportedly had narrowed her college choices to MSU, South Carolina, and Rutgers before eliminating Rutgers earlier this week.
This marks the second-straight season MSU has landed a recruiting class with at least three players in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100. Last year, MSU signed Daphane White (No. 45), Jessika Carter (No. 46), and Xaria Wiggins (No. 54). Carter has since transferred from MSU.
Jackson also reportedly had scholarship offers from Connecticut, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State.
South Carolina had the No. 1 class in espnW's ranking entering Friday. Tennessee (No. 8), Missouri (No. 11), Georgia (No. 13), and LSU (No. 20) also were ranked in the top 20.
This story will be updated for Sunday's print edition.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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