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Maya Nnaji, No. 7 recruit in class of 2022, commits to Arizona

Maya Nnaji, ranked the No. 7 overall recruit in the Class of 2022 by ESPN HoopGurlz, has committed to play for Arizona, she told ESPN on Monday.

The 6-foot-4 forward from Hopkins High School in Minnesota is the second commitment from the rising senior class for the Wildcats, joining No. 18 Kailyn Gilbert, a 5-8 point guard from Seffner Christian Academy in Florida.

Nnaji is the sixth player from the HoopGurlz's top 10 for 2022 who has committed, along with No. 1 Lauren Betts (Stanford), No. 3 Ayanna Patterson and No. 5 Isuneh Brady (both to UConn) and No. 4 Timea Gardiner and No. 10 Raegan Beers (both to Oregon State).

Nnaji's older brother, Zeke Nnaji, also played at Arizona and was Pac-12 freshman of the year in 2020. He was the No. 22 draft pick by the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 18, 2020, and has played in 40 games thus far in his NBA rookie season.

Maya said Zeke's experience through college recruiting helped her and their parents through her process, but she picked Arizona for her own reasons.

"The biggest areas for me were academics, playing style, player development, strength and conditioning, the community, and nutrition, too," said Maya, whose family is vegan. "I want to be a doctor, so having a good pre-med program was really important to me. And having the support staff that will help me balance that heavy load, while also being able to be my best on the court as well."

Nnaji, who also considered Stanford, Maryland, UCLA and Illinois among other schools, said she was leaning toward Arizona even before the Wildcats' run this season to the Women's Final Four.

"But I feel like that kind of sealed the deal as well," she said of the Wildcats' success and the excitement in Tucson, Arizona, around coach Adia Barnes' program. "I kind of wanted to go to a school that wasn't a dynasty already but where they have the tools to get there, so I know I can come there and continue to help build that.

"Coach Barnes can be a great mentor for me as well ... she knows like the stuff I need to work on to get to the next level."

Nnaji said she will continue to work a lot on her perimeter shooting so she can be an effective player as a power forward with range (stretch four).

Nnaji was high school teammates with current UConn guard Paige Bueckers, who was the consensus national player of the year as a freshman this season.

"This week she was texting me, saying, 'I'm really proud of you. Wherever you go, you're going to make an impact. Just continue to keep grinding, keep working,'" Nnaji said. "So, yeah, she's a big role model, she's definitely inspiring. Being able to look up to her and know that she has that heart, and I can do that as well."