Article on The Gophers 20-21 recruiting class from Gophersports.com.
Gophers' Recruiting Class Ranked 18th by ESPN
Women's Basketball | 11/19/2019 4:19:00 PM
Recruiting Class Rankings
MINNEAPOLIS – Last Wednesday, head coach Lindsay Whalen announced the addition of three student-athletes that signed National Letters of Intent to join the Minnesota women's basketball program for the 2020-21 season. Signing NLIs with the Golden Gophers were Erin Hedman, Alexia Smith and Caroline Strande.
"I am so thrilled to announce this recruiting class," Whalen said. "We have three players joining our program who are not only great players on the court but great ambassadors off the court for the University of Minnesota."
Minnesota's three-person recruiting class is ranked No. 18 in the country by ESPN, the team's highest ranking since at least the 2012 class.
"Alexia Smith (No. 46) is a physical point guard who has a remarkable ability to finish plays in traffic," reads ESPN's recap of Minnesota's class. "The Gophers also have No. 75 Erin Hedman, a 6-3 post player who is a workhorse on the glass, and Caroline Strande, an agile guard who manufactures her own shots."
A native of New Berlin, Wis., Hedman currently attends Eisenhower High School. A four-star recruit according to ESPN, she is the 75th-ranked player overall in the class and the No. 8 post player. The 6'2 Hedman was named second-team all-conference a year ago after averaging 8.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. As a sophomore, Hedman posted 7.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest.
"We are thrilled to welcome Erin to our Gopher family," Whalen said. "She brings great size and skill at position that adds great depth to our post group."
Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, Smith has helped lead Columbus Africentric Early College to two state titles in her career. A five-star recruit according to ESPN, Smith is the 46th player overall in the class, as well as the 15th-ranked guard. She is the first five-star recruit for either the men's or women's programs at Minnesota since at least the 2011 class.
The 5'8 guard has twice been named to the Super 12 First Team and first-team all-city. As a junior, she was named second-team all-state as she averaged 19 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks per game. This came after posting 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks per contest as a sophomore and 12 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in her freshman campaign.
In addition to four letters already earned in basketball, Smith has also earned four letters in volleyball and two more in track and field.
"Alexia has a tremendous ability to get in the paint and finish with contact," Whalen said. "Defensively, she is someone we will count on to keep us improving on that end of the floor."
Strande comes to the Gophers from Racine, Wis., and Racine Lutheran High School, where she is already the school's all-time leader in points, field goals made, free throws made, steals and assists. A three-star recruit according to ESPN, the 5'11 Strande is touted as the No. 29 guard in the country. She was named all-state and earned Racine County Player of the Year honors last year after averaging 29.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 4.8 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.
A three-time all-conference and all-county pick, Strande previously put up 23.1 points, 10.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 3.6 steals and 1.7 blocks as a sophomore and 16.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.1 steals, 2.8 assists and 1.2 blocks per game as a freshman.
On the AAU circuit, Strande plays for Wisconsin Flight Elite and helped the team to a third-place finish on the Under Armour Association Circuit in 2019.
In addition to four letters earned in basketball, Strande also lettered twice in soccer (holds state record with nine goals in one game) and has one letter each in cross country and track and field. Off the court, she was named a Racine County Sports Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete last year and has been on the school's High Honor Roll three times.
"Caroline is someone who has a knack for making the right basketball play," Whalen said. "She can score from all three levels on offense and brings rebounding to the guard position, as well."
"So let it be written.
So let it be done."