In March, the UNC women's basketball team showcased its future as its young core led the way to a Sweet 16 berth in the NCAA Tournament. That future got even brighter on April 11, with the commitment of Ciera Toomey, a five-star center and No. 3 recruit in the nation for the class of 2023.
Toomey had an outstanding junior campaign at Dunmore High School, averaging just over 18 points and 7.0 rebounds per game with a 67.2 shooting percentage from the floor. Toomey received around two dozen offers from NCAA Division I programs, including UNC, Duke, Maryland, Notre Dame and Connecticut.
UNC may not have the credentials that multiple-time national champions UConn and Notre Dame have, but for Toomey the clear decision was to join head coach Courtney Banghart in Chapel Hill.
“I have always liked UNC,” Toomey said. “It's one of those colleges that you just root for even if you don’t have any connection.”
For anyone close to Toomey, her decision was not surprising at all.
“Really from the beginning, North Carolina seemed to be the school that stuck out the most,” Toomey’s high school coach Ben O'Brien said.
Toomey’s draw to UNC began when she played in the Drive, Chip and Putt golf tournament at Pinehurst, N.C. at the age of 12. That day, she told her mom that she would go to school in North Carolina.
Still, it was more than just the initial pull of North Carolina that led Toomey to her decision. She was won over by the Tar Heels’ coaching staff, style of play and academics.
“I loved coach Banghart right from the beginning,” Toomey said. “I always knew that she was going to be the coach for me.”