RICHMOND, Va. – It was June 5, 2012 when Marlene Stollings (pictured) stood behind a podium inside VCU's Sports Medicine Building.
During her introductory press conference that Tuesday afternoon, she explained her vision for VCU Women's Basketball, and admitted that recruiting will be the "lifeblood" of her program.
Stollings' June arrival put her staff slightly behind on the recruiting trail, but that didn't seem to matter however, as just five months later she and her new staff had rapidly assembled a six-player recruiting class, which gained attention as one of the country's best.
Blue Star Basketball, a respected national women's basketball recruiting service, tabbed VCU's 2013 class as the 38th-best in the nation, tops among all Atlantic 10 Conference squads, and third-highest among non-BCS schools.
One of those players – incoming freshman guard/forward Camille Calhoun (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Spalding) – is listed as a four-star recruit by ESPN, which also grades her as the 92nd-best overall player in her class and 27th at her position. VCU joins nationally-ranked Dayton as one of just two A-10 schools to boast an ESPN Top 100 recruit.
The highly-touted recruiting class also includes Briana DuBose (5-10, G, Bowie, Md./Bishop McNamara, 1st Team All-WCAC), Monnazjea Finney-Smith (6-1, G, Portsmouth, Va./Wilson, Eastern District Offensive Player of the Year, 1st Team All-District), Ashlee Mitchell (5-7, G, Bristol, Tenn./Tennesee, back-to-back Region Player of the Year), Keira Robinson (5-8, G, Columbia, S.C./Keenan, South Carolina 2A Player of the Year) and Isis Thorpe (5-8, G, Reading, Pa./Reading, back-to-back Berks County Player of the Year).
Stollings has long been recognized as an outstanding national recruiter. As an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Ole Miss, she signed arguably the school's best class in nearly 30 years in 2010, while her final two classes with the Rebels ranked as the 39th and 42nd best in the nation.
Under Stollings' guidance last year, VCU qualified for the Atlantic 10 Tournament in its inaugural season in the league, despite returning just 20 percent of its offense (fewest in A-10) and 31 percent of its minutes played (second fewest in A-10) – a sign that the future is bright for the Rams.