Breaking down the top women's basketball recruits who will define GEICO Nationals

After she finishes her high school career with Montverde Academy (Fla.), Janiah Barker, the No. 3 prospect in the 2022 class, will take her talents to Georgia. Marc Piscotty

This year's GEICO Nationals high school basketball tournament will have a slightly different format, with the field being made up of independent schools and also adding a fifth team and a play-in game on the girls' side.

All five teams are ranked in the SC Next Top 25, and there are 12 players from the espnW ranks. Each team played national-level competition throughout its schedule, and a couple have faced each other head-to-head previously this season.

No. 4 IMG Academy (Fla.) faces No. 5 Bishop McNamara (Md.) in the first round on Thursday at 10 a.m. ET (ESPN+/ESPN App).

The winner of that game faces top seed New Hope (Md.) in the semifinals on Friday (12:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU/ESPN App). DME Academy (Fla.) and Montverde Academy (Fla.) square off in the other semifinal on Friday (10:30 a.m. ET, ESPNU/ESPN App).

The championship is Saturday at 10 a.m. ET (ESPN2/ESPN App).

We analyze the five teams in the field and break down which players can be the biggest difference-makers this weekend.

1. New Hope Academy (Md.)

Record: 27-2
Head coach: Sam Caldwell
Best wins: St. John's (D.C.), Fremont (Utah), Grandview (Colo.), Westtown (Pa.)

Key players:
G Kennedy Fauntleroy | Class of 2022 | 5-foot-8 | Georgetown signee
W Jalyn Brown | Class of 2022 | 6-foot | Louisville signee

Both Fauntleroy and Brown, Nos. 75 and 78 respectively in the espnW ranks, fit and maximize their talent in New Hope's full-court pressure style of defense. Fauntleroy will bring long-range shooting and ballhandling skills to Georgetown.

Jeff Walz has a top-15 recruiting class this cycle, and Brown will bring length, versatility and major potential to Louisville. Her 3-point consistency has improved this year, and that complements her slashing ability when she attacks the paint.

2. DME Academy (Fla.)

Record: 25-3
Head coach: Michael Panaggio
Best wins: Montverde (Fla.), Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), St. Paul VI (Va.)

Key players:
W Chloe Kitts | Class of 2023 | 6-foot-3
PG Sydney Shaw | Class of 2022 | 5-foot-6 | Auburn signee

Kitts, currently No. 16 in the 2023 class, is a highly sought-after wing prospect. She holds offers from every major conference in the country. She is very effective in the mid-range and around the paint in face-up opportunities. As she expands the consistency of her range, her stock will rise even more. She averages 18.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game to lead DME.

Shaw is headed to Auburn as part of Johnny Harris's first signing class. She is quick and explosive with the ball and can knock down the 3. The No. 50-ranked prospect in the Class of 2022 averages 12.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and three assists per game.

3. Montverde Academy (Fla.)

Record: 18-3
Head coach: Special Jennings
Best wins: Duncanville (Texas), The Webb School (Tenn.), Lake Highland Prep (Fla.)

Key players:
F Janiah Barker | Class of 2022 | 6-foot-3 | Uncommitted
PG Mjracle Sheppard | Class of 2023 | 5-foot-10

Barker is one of the toughest matchups in the country. Sitting at No. 3 in the espnW rankings, her skills, agility and physicality at the forward spot are hard for opponents to deal with. She averages 17.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. She reopened her recruitment by decommitting from Georgia following coach Joni Taylor's departure to Texas A&M.

The junior Sheppard is the primary ballhandler for a very talented Montverde squad and she distributes to the team to the tune of 4.3 assists per game. She is good in the pick-and-roll and does a good job pressuring defensively. This will be a big summer for her recruitment.

4. IMG Academy (Fla.)

Record: 12-4
Head coach: Shell Dailey
Best wins: St. John's (D.C.), DME (Fla.)

Key players:
G Kailyn Gilbert | Class of 2022 | 5-foot-8 | Arizona signee
F Grace VanSlooten | Class of 2022 | 6-foot-2 | Oregon signee

VanSlooten, No. 13 in the 2022 class, leads IMG in scoring (16.7 points per game) and rebounding (9.2). She is an active and physical presence at the forward position and will give Oregon a rugged and versatile rebounder next season.

Gilbert will bring a dynamic offensive threat to Arizona next season. As espnW's No. 31-ranked player, she averages 14.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game. She is as gifted a scorer as there is in the country and can erupt for 40-point games on any given night. She can really create off the dribble, and her footwork allows her to make space for her jumper.

5. Bishop McNamara (Md.)

Record: 20-5
Head coach: Frank Oliver
Best wins: Grandview (Colo.), St. Mary's (Calif.), St. Paul VI (Va.), LUHI (N.Y.)

Key players:
W Qadence Samuels | Class of 2023 | 6-foot-2
G Gia Cooke | Class of 2022 | 5-foot-8 | Texas A&M signee

Samuels has been McNamara's leading scorer this season at 15.2 points per game and has complimented that with 7.4 rebounds. She is a long wing who knocks down the 3, has a nice pull-up jumper and utilizes her length well defensively. She recently received an offer from Louisville and has hosted Miami, Maryland and Tennessee in home visits.

Cooke, No. 52 in the espnW 100, is a quick guard who applies ball pressure defensively and really pushes the ball up the court fast and with a purpose. She averages 13.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. The Texas A&M signee fits with the Aggies' style historically, however, they will be making a new hire with coach Gary Blair announcing his retirement.