Recee’ Caldwell, the No. 7 ranked junior in the country, is known for taking the road less traveled. She played her way into the discussion as one of the nation’s top players without playing on a nationally ranked high school team or a shoe company sponsored club team. In choosing UCLA, the talented point guard has gone against the grain once again.
“I visited schools all over the country,” Caldwell said. “But I knew in my heart I wanted to help a program get to a Final Four. We can do that here and I want to be a major factor.”
When she hangs up her sneakers, Caldwell of San Antonio, Texas, wants to be a basketball coach. Her father, Ray, has been instrumental in the process, serving as her club coach with San Antonio’s Finest. He also has been the driving force in her individual skill development sessions and film study.
Her finalists included some of the game’s top programs, including Connecticut and Texas A&M. In UCLA, Caldwell sees a chance to make a name for herself at the college level like she has at the grassroots level.
“UCLA reminds me so much of my club team,” Caldwell said. “I’ve never gone to the juggernaut but I’ve always tried to make quality teams the juggernaut with my ability.”
UCLA’s second-year coach Cori Close made a huge impact on Caldwell during the recruiting process with her energy and passion.
“Even though she’s a relative newcomer to being a head coach, she is so smart,” Caldwell said. “She has so much love for the game. She’s always asking me what I did today to get better as a person and a player.”
Though Los Angeles is two time zones away from her current home, location was also a major factor as Caldwell estimates that she has over 200 relatives within a 90-mile radius of Pauley Pavilion where the Bruins call home.
“Both sets of my grandparents are right there in the area,” Caldwell said. “I’m really excited to play in front of them consistently during my career.”
In becoming their first commit in the 2014 class, Caldwell gives the Bruins their second top 10 ranked recruit in the past three years. Current freshman Nirra Fields was ranked No. 6 by the JumpOffPlus.com National Report. Fields was both a McDonald’s and a WBCA All-American in the spring of 2012. Caldwell and Fields will team up in the backcourt looking to cause havoc on the Pac-12 for two seasons.
Looking ahead to Caldwell’s freshman season, the Bruins will also have then-juniors Lauren Holiday and Kari Korver in the backcourt, as well as then-sophomore Dominique Williams. The aforementioned Fields is the signature scorer in the group while the other three all bring different specialties to the table. Holiday was one of the nation’s top perimeter defenders as a high school senior. Korver takes after her cousin Kyle, who is one of the NBA’s top standstill shooters. Williams will bring a myriad of talents to the table mainly her energy and willingness to do whatever is needed to win games.
That said, Caldwell should fit in just nicely as a primary ballhandler who can make shots and help to lead the team both on and off the floor. She’ll arrive as Thea Lemberger leaves due to graduation, opening up over 30 minutes of playing time a game. Our staff views Caldwell’s approach to the game as that of a future 10-year WNBA veteran.
With her pass-first mentality, Caldwell is the type of player who players around the country will be interested in playing with. She should help UCLA attract even more talented players as the Bruins will look to add one more guard and a couple of bigger players to the frontline in the 2014 class. An emerging post presence, Monique Billings, appears to be a primary target for the Bruins and incoming freshman Savanna Trapp could be a redshirt candidate giving her time to fill into her 6-8 frame.
#PeachStateTV with a look at what Recee’ Caldwell will bring to the UCLA roster from her summer play with San Antonio’s Finest:
Brandon Clay is the publisher of the JumpOffPlus.com and the owner of Peach State Basketball, Inc. The service is picked up by more than 200 colleges and universities nationwide. He serves as the Executive Camp Director for the EBA All-American, Fab Five and Super 64 Camps. Clay has been involved in the community since 2001 as an evaluator, event operator and trainer. You can reach him atBrandonClay@PeachStateBasketball.com