As she entered her third season as the UCLA women’s basketball coach, Nikki Caldwell put together one of the nation’s top recruiting classes during the fall signing period.
Caldwell left that class behind when she left the West Coast in April to become the new LSU coach.
But she’s going to coach Sheila Boykin after all.
Boykin, a 6-foot-2 forward from California powerhouse Long Beach Poly, signed with LSU on Wednesday after being granted a release by UCLA from the letter of intent she signed last year. She joins previous LSU signees Krystal Forthan, listed by ESPN/HoopGurlz as the nation’s No. 5 prospect, and Anne Pederson in the 2011 class and plans to enroll at LSU in August.
“Sheila is one of those players that a coach always dreams of having on her team,” Caldwell said. “She’s so unselfish in her play and plays until the whistle blows. She’s going to compete. She’s going to take on any challenge you put in front of her, whether it’s guarding the best player on the opposing team or establishing herself as a top offensive threat.”
Ranked the nation’s No. 27 prospect by ESPN/HoopGurlz, Boykin teams with Forthan to give LSU two of the nation’s top 30 recruits.
She comes to the Lady Tigers after averaging 10.0 points and 8.3 rebounds for a Long Beach Poly squad that went 25-3 last season and finished the year at No. 17 in USA Today’s national rankings.
Boykin will become the fourth California-bred Lady Tiger, the first since Oxnard product Vanessa Hackett in 1994-95.
“She knows how to win. She knows how to win the right way,” Caldwell said. “Only greatness lies inside of her.”
UCLA has now lost two of the four recruits Caldwell signed in the fall. McDonald’s All-American Justine Hartman, the nation’s No. 7 prospect, signed with Cal.
“I know it was a difficult time not only for the (UCLA) players returning,” Caldwell said of her departure, “but also for the incoming players we had recruited.”