Each senior at the Webb School (Knoxville) is required to give a chapel talk about a significant life experience, and
The element of surprise was lost on anyone in the audience who turned around: Sitting near the back of the chapel was Tennessee coach Pat Summitt. For the second straight year, Summitt hauled in the top recruiting class, signing six players, including five ranked in hoopgurlz.com's top 20. The Vols saved the best for last in Johnson, whom they've watched since she was in middle school. Last season she averaged 16.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in leading Webb to a 29-4 record and the Tennessee Division II title, the first in school history. Johnson has played all five positions for the Spartans. "She's a tremendous athlete," says Webb coach Shelley Collier. "She's quick off the dribble and a state champion in the long jump and 200 meters."
And so Summitt sat in the Webb chapel, her eyes having seen the Glory.
College recruiting may be adding a new tool. A test called SPARQ (Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness), conducted by a Nike-affiliated company of the same name, measures athleticism in sport-specific skills. The SPARQ test for basketball consists of a vertical jump, 20-yard dash, 30-second endurance jump, power ball throw and agility cone drill. The testing, conducted by a traveling group of certified trainers, is free, but the company charges for gear to improve players' SPARQ scores. College coaches can obtain results on the official website.
Last month SPARQ tested seven of Rivals.com's dozen best basketball recruits.
The data may prove more useful in evaluating lower-tier prospects, who don't receive the same exposure top recruits do in AAU tournaments. SPARQ is so new that at least three SEC coaching staffs admitted never having heard of it, and other top schools are tentative about the data. "The rules allow us a lot of opportunities to see kids with our own eyes rather than just reading something on paper," says Arizona assistant Josh Pastner.
Of course, the test can only predict so much: Golden State rookie Brandon Wright has the alltime record of 91.06, while the Sonics' Kevin Durant scored a meager 68.80.
Two of the nation's top recruits, seniors