The University of Wisconsin volleyball team signed three of the top 30 players in the country to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday.
The 2020 recruiting class will include Jade Demps, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter from Raleigh, North Carolina; M.J. Hammill, a 6-foot setter from Greenwood, Indiana; and Devyn Robinson, a 6-2 middle blocker from Ankeny, Iowa.
"I really like this class a lot,” coach Kelly Sheffield said. “All three absolutely love to compete. They don't flinch and they don't back down in big moments. All three of them are very confident in themselves but they all are extremely driven to learn and get better.
“They've all had coaches around them that have pushed them and helped them develop. They also have personalities that people are drawn to. I think Badger fans are really going to enjoy watching this group."
Demps, who plays for Broughton High School and the NC Volleyball Academy, is ranked as the No. 13 player in PrepVolleyball.com’s Senior Aces and a three-time PrepVolleyball All-American. She averaged 7.3 kills per set and hit .385 this season in leading Broughton to the Class 4A final four of the state tournament. She recorded 45 kills in third-round victory over top-seeded South Central.
With outside hitters Molly Haggerty and Grace Loberg returning next year, Demps could compete for the right side spot that will be vacated by Madison Duello.
"Jade is a beast,” Sheffield said. “She's got a heavy arm and is someone who hits with power. She's young for her grade and still has a way to go to grow into her incredible potential, but it's there. She's a really nice athlete and was a track and field All-American in the pentathlon. I can see her on the left or right here."
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Hammill, whose given name is Madison, is ranked No. 30 on the Senior Aces and a three-time first-team All-State selection. She had more than 3,500 assists and 1,000 digs in her career at Center Grove High School. Her mother Julie played volleyball at Clemson and her sister Taylor played at Auburn and Middle Tennessee State.
Hammill, who committed to UW during her freshman year, is a possible redshirt candidate with Sydney Hilley and Izzy Ashburn returning at the setter spot next year and she figures to compete with Ashburn for the job post-Hilley.
"MJ is a very mature, focused, and driven competitor,” Sheffield said. “People love playing with her and for her. She has a very high motor and is constantly searching for ways to get better. One of the traits that great setters have is the ability to make those around them better, and MJ has that."
Mike Lingenfelter, her coach at Munciana club, sees many of the same qualities.
“She has become the consummate leader,” Lingenfelter recently told the Indianapolis Star. “She understands she’s going to take everybody with her. She’s always been a gifted player, and she’s evolved into a gifted leader. When it’s all said and done, that’s more important than the volleyball. For some kids, success is probable. For her, it may be inevitable. She works and takes others with her.”
Robinson, the No. 14 Senior Ace, was a member of the 2018 and 2019 USA Volleyball Girls Youth National Team and was named the best blocker at the 2019 World Under 18 Championships in Egypt.
She led Ankeny Centennial to the Iowa Class 5A state title in 2016 and 2018 and averaged 4.8 kills per set this season. Her father Daniyal is an assistant coach for the Iowa State men’s basketball team.
Robinson is expected to compete for the starting spot on the right side next season.
"Devyn has the potential to be a big-time player for us,” Sheffield said. “She wants to own the net, which is a mentality that every great blocker must have. She can hit first, second, and third tempo and off of one or two feet. I can see her in the middle or on the right for us."