Dubbed the “Fierce Five,” Caitlin Bickle, Aquira DeCosta, Queen Egbo, Honesty Scott-Grayson and NaLyssa Smith comprise the second No. 1-ranked Baylor women’s basketball class in program history as they each signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, the first day of early signing period.
“I am thrilled to welcome these five talented and well-rounded young ladies to the Lady Bear basketball family,” Mulkey said in a release. “Our program is gaining elite student-athletes, but more importantly invested parents and families, who were very involved in each of their daughters’ college decision. This group is some of the most versatile in program history.”
The group is ranked No. 1 in the nation by ESPN Hoopgurlz and Prospects Nation as each player is has a five-star rating and is ranked in the top 30 overall by ESPN Hoopgurlz. The only other consensus top-ranked class in program history came in 2008-09, when Brittney Griner (No. 1 by ESPN Hoopgurlz), Mariah Chandler (No. 16 by ESPN Hoopgurlz), Jordan Madden (No. 58 by ESPN Hoopgurlz), Shanay Washington (No. 64 by ESPN Hoopgurlz) and Kimetria “Nae-Nae” Hayden (unranked by ESPN Hoopgurlz) signed with Baylor.
Bickle, a 6-foot-2 forward from Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek Ariz., is a three-time all-state honoree and is rated No. 28 overall and No. 4 by position by ESPN Hoopgurlz. She has led Cactus Shadows — a program that was 23-54 in the three years before her arrival — to back-to-back state championship title games.
Last season, she averaged 16.2 points, 6.8 boards, 5.1 assists, 2.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per contest while shooting 63 percent from the floor. Bickle has scored 1,364 points and pulled down 590 rebounds so far in her high school career. She chose Baylor over Louisville, California and Michigan.
“Caitlin is a hard-nosed player with a no nonsense attitude when she steps onto the court,” Mulkey said. “I think she can add a lot to our team as an aggressive player and a confident three-point threat. What I loved about her is her infectious personality. She’s somebody that puts the team first, loves to compete at the highest level and has a high IQ for the game that can’t be taught.
“Caitlin is the ‘glue’ player of this class. Every team needs a kid like her, and we’re excited to have her at Baylor.”
DeCosta, a 6-foot-3 forward from St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, Calif., is a two-time USA Today All-California team selection and is ranked No. 4 overall and No. 1 by position by ESPN Hoopgurlz.
She has led St. Mary’s to three-straight sectional championships and a state championship in 2016. DeCosta was awarded Naismith Trophy honorable mention All-America accolades in 2016. As a junior, she averaged 18.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game.
DeCosta has been selected to compete for USA Basketball on three occasions, winning gold with the 2017 U18 World Cup Team and bronze with the 2016 U17 World Championship and 2015 U16 National teams. She picked Baylor over South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisville and USC.
“Aquira is a winner who has played at the highest level in high school, AAU and USA Basketball,” Mulkey said. “She presents matchup problems with her ability to hit threes, finish difficult shots and own the offensive glass. We pride ourselves on the ability to create opportunities through mismatches. Her athleticism is limitless and her best days of basketball are in front of her. We can’t wait to continue to grow her game and see her make an impact on our team.”
Egbo, a 6-foot-3 center from Travis High School in Houston, is a three-time all-district selection and is ranked No. 15 overall and No. 4 by position by ESPN Hoopgurlz. She is the reigning District MVP after leading Travis to a 30-8 overall record and a 15-3 conference mark. She averaged 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per contest as a junior.
Egbo, who has helped Travis to three consecutive bi-district and playoff appearances, chose Baylor over Texas, Florida State and Mississippi State.
“We saw Queen at Baylor camps throughout the years and quickly realized she is one of the best post players in the country,” Mulkey said. “Watching her play, you can see she has strong post skills and has the ability to face up and score. Her athletic ability to track down and block shots is second to none.”
Scott-Grayson, a 5-foot-10 guard from Riverdale Baptist High school in Brick New Jersey, is rated No. 18 overall and No. 2 by position by ESPN Hoopgurlz. She is Mulkey’s first recruit from the state of New Jersey.
Scott-Grayson, who played for Paul VI High School as a junior, led the team to a 32-2 mark overall, an 18-1 conference record and a VISAA tournament championship in 2017. She averaged 8.7 points, running an offense for a squad full of talented recruits as a junior, and is set to finish her high school career at Riverdale Baptist this season.
Scott-Grayson, who captured a bronze medal with USA Basketball’s U16 National Team in 2015, selected Baylor over Connecticut, Notre Dame, Louisville, Maryland, Duke and Texas.
“Honesty is one of the most explosive and dynamic combo guards in this class,” Mulkey said. “She is a floor general, wants the ball at the end of games and is a great playmaker. She is a competitor that wants to win. Her quickness and athletic ability separates her from the rest. For us to be able to have a versatile guard that can do multiple things is so important. I’m excited to see how much she adds to the perimeter next season.”
Smith, a 6-foot-3 forward front East Central High School in Converse, Texas, is a three-time all-region selection and is ranked No. 8 overall and No. 3 by position by ESPN Hoopgurlz.
Last year, Smith secured second team All-America and Super Team honors after averaging 23.2 points, 17.5 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per contest. She has led East Central to three playoff appearances so far in her career. Smith, who gained national attention after dunking at practice, chose Baylor over South Carolina, Ohio State and Louisville.
“We’ve been following NaLyssa and recruiting her heavily for the last five years,” Mulkey said. “She is one of the most versatile players in the 2018 class. NaLyssa has the ability to play and defend every position on the floor. She has expanded her game from just being an interior force to now being an outside threat from the perimeter. She can certainly be one of the most impactful players we’ve had in our program, and keeping her in-state was a high priority for me and my staff.”