WACO, Texas -- Hall of Fame head coach Kim Mulkey signed the best Baylor women's basketball class in program history, as the `Fierce Five' signed National Letters of Intent on day one of the early signing period on Wednesday.
The Lady Bear 2018 class, comprised of forward Caitlin Bickle (Cave Creek, Ariz.), forward Aquira DeCosta (Sacramento, Calif.), forward Queen Egbo (Houston, Texas), guard Honesty Scott-Grayson (Brick, N.J.) and forward NaLyssa Smith (Converse, Texas), is ranked No. 1 nationally by ESPN Hoopgurlz and Prospects Nation.
Each player owns a five-star rating and is ranked in the Top 30 overall by ESPN Hoopgurlz, solidifying Baylor's most talented class to date. 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 Hayden (unranked by ESPN Hoopgurlz) signed NLIs.
"I am thrilled to welcome these five talented and well-rounded young ladies to the Lady Bear basketball family," Mulkey said. "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. They will continue to help us keep our program at an elite level, which gives us a lot to look forward to in the future. We are excited to welcome the Fierce Five to Baylor."
Caitlin Bickle | 6-2, Forward
Caitlin Bickle, a 6-2 forward, is a three-time all-state honoree from Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek, Ariz. She is rated No. 28 overall and No. 4 by position by ESPN Hoopgurlz, and No. 85 overall and No. 14 by position by Prospects Nation.
Bickle has led Cactus Shadows to back-to-back state championship title games, turning around a program that was 23-54 in the three years prior to her arrival. As a junior, she averaged 16.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game, while shooting 63 percent from the floor.
Bickle, who has scored 1,364 points and pulled down 590 rebounds so far in her high school career, 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."
Aquira DeCosta | 6-3, Forward
Aquira DeCosta, a 6-3 forward, is a two-time USA Today All-California team selection from St. Mary's High School in Stockton, Calif. She is ranked No. 4 overall and No. 1 by position by ESPN Hoopgurlz, and No. 2 overall and No. 1 by position by Prospects Nation.
DeCosta has led St. Mary's to three-straight sectional championships and a state championship in 2016, and 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 3x3 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."
Queen Egbo | 6-3, Center
Queen Egbo, a 6-3 center, is a three-time all-district selection from Travis High School in Houston, Texas. She is ranked No. 15 overall and No. 4 by position by ESPN Hoopgurlz, and No. 27 overall and No. 8 by position by Prospects Nation.
Egbo was named district MVP in 2017 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. It was a priority for our staff to keep her in-state, and we are pleased to have Queen as a part of our Baylor family."
Honesty Scott-Grayson | 5-10, Guard
Honesty Scott-Grayson, Mulkey's first recruit hailing from the state of New Jersey, is a 5-10 guard from Riverdale Baptist High School located in Upper Marlboro, Md. She is rated No. 18 overall and No. 2 by position by ESPN Hoopgurlz, and No. 5 overall and No. 1 by position by Prospects Nation.
Scott-Grayson, who played for Paul VI High School as a junior, led her squad to a 32-2 mark overall, an 18-1 conference record and a VISAA tournament championship in 2017. The elite floor general 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."
NaLyssa Smith | 6-3, Forward
NaLyssa Smith, a 6-3 forward, is a three-time all-region selection from East Central High School in Converse, Texas. She is ranked No. 8 overall and No. 3 by position by ESPN Hoopgurlz, and No. 3 overall and No. 2 by position by Prospects Nation.
As a junior, 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."
The No. 3/3 Lady Bears open the regular season at home against Lamar on Friday, Nov. 10. The 7 p.m. (CT) game is Military Appreciation Night. The weekend continues with a Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Game against Coppin State on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 2 p.m.