Nov. 13, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - A major focus of the recruiting process each year for Minnesota women's basketball head coach Pam Borton and her staff is to be able to retain the state's top players.
When Carlie Wagner signed her name to a National Letter of Intent Wednesday morning to continue her basketball career with the Golden Gophers, Coach Borton could put a check mark next to that goal for the Class of 2014. In reality, Borton is probably more likely to write an exclamation mark.
"Carlie will soon be a household name in the state of Minnesota. It's always exciting when the No. 1 player in the state, and a top-50 player nationally, wants to stay home and play for their state school," Borton said. "We're very excited to have Carlie at Minnesota. She is extremely athletic, she's great scorer, she's humble, has a great family and has tremendous support around her."
"I am so excited to be a Golden Gopher. I think the thing that excites me the most about becoming a Gopher is the support and familiarity of the state," Wagner said. "I know that I will always have people from home attending my games and supporting the team and myself. I like knowing that I will always see a familiar face somewhere, just from so many years of basketball (in this state) and all the new incredible people I have met."
Wagner is regarded as the state's top-ranked player according to numerous recruiting sites, including espnW HoopGurlz/Scouts Inc., which gives her a four-star rating and a grade of 95, while listing her 54th nationally. She has similar ratings from Dan Olson's Collegiate Girls Basketball Report and All-Star Girls Report. Wagner brings some amazing prep accomplishments with her to the U of M.
As a junior, she led New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva (NRHEG) to a 32-1 record and Minnesota's Class AA state title, averaging 33.6 points per game for the season. In the state championship game, a 60-59 win against previously undefeated Braham, she made a late free throw to cap a state tournament record-setting 50-point performance. Then, seconds later, she made a great defensive play near midcourt to force a turnover that sealed NRHEG's first-ever state title.
During the run to the state championship, Wagner averaged 43.0 points over the three games, establishing new state tournament records for points scored in a tournament (129) and game, field goals attempted in a tournament (110) and game (43), and field goals made in a tourney (48). She also tied the state tournament record for field goals made in a game (21).
"I think playing at Minnesota keeps Carlie close to her family and fan base. I think she has a sense of loyalty to the Gophers, being from the state," NRHEG head coach John Schultz said. "She is a very loyal person. In her mind, going to Minnesota is the right thing to do. I thought Coach Borton and her staff did an excellent job recruiting her and making her feel comfortable. That really encouraged her to stay home and play for the team she has followed her whole life."
Wagner's incredible performance at last year's state tournament upstaged her effort at the 2012 event, when she also led NRHEG to a 32-1 record and a third-place finish. She scored a then-tournament record 48 points during the consolation victory against Pequot Lakes and finished with a record total of 112 points during the three games.
"Carlie has a definite scorer's mentality, and she is one of the elite players in this Class of 2014," Dan Olson of Collegiate Girls Basketball Report and espnW HoopGurlz said. "She is a prolific scorer in high school and should bring that to college, which will offer the Gophers additional scoring punch in the backcourt. She can handle the ball in transition, and has an opportunity to step right in as a freshman. Carlie is definitely the marquee player among Minnesota's class."
In addition to her amazing basketball accomplishments, Wagner also excels in the classroom, as she is an "A" Honor Roll student, a member of the National Honor Society and is the editor of NRHEG's yearbook. She also is an all-conference performer in both volleyball and track & field, and she holds NRHEG's school record in the high jump at 5-6.
"Carlie has natural ability that is rarely seen. She can out-jump most people six inches taller than she is," Minnesota Stars AAU coach Mark Smith said. "She has natural jumping ability and is just a natural basketball talent. She has never had a lot of training, so it just came naturally to her."
Wagner and Benilde-St. Margaret's guard Grace Coughlin, who also signed with Minnesota, are AAU teammates for the Minnesota Stars.
"Carlie (Wagner) and Grace (Coughlin) played with the Minnesota Stars for a full season and became very good friends," Smith said. "Grace is somebody who wants to feed the ball to set up others, and Carlie is flat-out a scorer." That combination should work well for the Gophers going forward.
"Carlie has the potential to be the next big star at Minnesota, because she can score and handle the ball," Smith said. "She has all three facets of the game -- the outside shot, the short jumper, and the ability to get to the basket. That skill set is something a lot of people do not possess."
"To be able to play in the Big Ten excites me, because it's very competitive, and challenging," Wagner said. "I am a very competitive person, and I like trying new challenges, so I know playing in the Big Ten is going to make me a much better ball player and going to teach me so many new things. It is one of the toughest conferences in the nation, and I can't wait to be a part of it."
"I chose the University of Minnesota for so many reasons. One reason was because of the awesome coaching staff and the relationships that I have with them," Wagner said. "Another reason is that I really wanted to stay closer to home, and what better place than staying in your home state and playing ball!"
"I really wanted to put on the Minnesota jersey and help represent where I come from," Wagner added. "It has always been a dream of mine to be a Golden Gopher, ever since I was little. I also felt comfortable with the girls and felt comfortable with the campus and environment. Something in my heart told me that this is where I needed to go."
--Michael Molde, Athletic Communications Assistant
More Information on Minnesota's Signing Class
Rangie Bessard: Story | Official Release | Fact Sheet | Borton Video | Loyd Video
Josie Buckingham: Story | Official Release | Fact Sheet | Borton Video | Riverso Video
Grace Coughlin: Story | Official Release | Fact Sheet | Borton Video | Roysland Video
Tory Jacobs: Story | Official Release | Fact Sheet | Borton Video | Loyd Video
Carlie Wagner: Story | Official Release | Fact Sheet | Borton Video | Roysland Video
Complete Signing Day Class
Five Gophers Reach Double-Digits in Win
Minnesota had five players score more than 10 points for the fifth time this season in a 110-73 win over Nebraska
Game Preview: Gophers vs. Nebraska
Minnesota has won six of its last seven games, and will look to continue the trend Thursday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
Three Gophers Named Academic All-District
Mullaney, Hedstrom and Wagner received recognition for their performance in the classroom and on the court.