Per reports from the Kansas City Star and Lawrence Journal-World, Rachel Hickman, a sophomore at Lawrence Free State High School, has verbally committed to the University of Kansas.
Why is this notable, you might wonder?
Primarily because she chose the Jayhawks over perennial power Nebraska.
Prior to the season, Hickman was named to PrepVolleyball.com's club volleyball All-American honorable mention list, which meant she was ranked in the top-40 in the nation for 15-year-olds.
And from the KC Star:
“She is not even scratching the surface of how great she’ll be,” Dynasty Volleyball Club director Bryon Larson said of the 6-foot-3 Rachel Hickman. “She is one of the best prospects in the country. Nebraska was in on her.”
“Obviously the program is doing well,” (Rachel’s dad) Ryan Hickman added of KU. “It’s fun to see. She wants to continue being part of that tradition. She really believes if we keep our best players home there’s a lot of great volleyball in the Heart of America region. No reason we can’t compete for national titles.”
This is big news for Ray Bechard and the Kansas volleyball program. Yes, Hickman is only a sophomore and still has two years in which she could have a change of heart, but the Jayhawks look to be set up to be a Top-25 team for the next several years. Additions like this are key for Kansas if they want to continue to challenge Texas for the Big 12.
For example, last year the Kansas City area produced several top-50 talents. Two notables include Orie Agbaji of Oak Park High School in Kansas City, MO who went to Texas while Alexis Hart of Truman High School in Independence, MO went to Minnesota. Texas and Minnesota joined Kansas at the Final Four in Omaha last year.