UPPER MARLBORO, Md.—Now in its eighth year, the She Got Game classic has evolved into a staple on the scholastic holiday tournament landscape. Set in metropolitan Washington, D.C., the event hosts both local schools as well as a line-up from multiple states and Canada. This year 117 teams made their way to the nation’s capital for three days of action. In all, 12 states, the District of Columbia and our friends from north of the border made up the rosters carried on the sidelines by over 125 college recruiters. The seven playing venues featured 10 courts with Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro and St. John’s College High School in D.C. serving as the cornerstone locations for the event.
While the President-elect won’t be hitting town until next month and his transition team continues the struggle to put together their administration “recruiting class”, the true talent was already on the floor in Washington this weekend and there was nothing “conservative” about it. The extensive field and geographical layout (see “D.C. Traffic”) made it impossible to catch all the teams in action and as always there was way more talent on hand than we’ll be able to reasonably share with you. None the less here are some of the standouts from the 2016 She Got Game Classic. Check back with Blue Star media later in the week for additional coverage from Travis Ponton and Joe Fenelon.
Coaches love their point guard to have that deep bag of tricks to call upon and not many can call on as many as Nia Clouden of St, Frances Academy. The 2018 floor leader can create both shots and passes of the dribble at will. She mixes up her attack but particularly gets results from a hesitation to a crossover. On penetration the 5-6 point guard handles the contact with the ability to finish or thread the pass among the rotating defenders. The form on her jumper is smooth and fluid though her knees come together as she gathers for her jumper. On the break she sees the floor and kicks it ahead or pulls it back with better and better decisions every time out. Clouden seems to be embracing on ball defense more and more and could become a genuine nightmare for opposing ballhandlers.
It’s always a promising sign in an athlete when they show the ability to learn within the boundaries the game they’re currently playing in. We’ve seen that time and again from National Christian freshman guard Liz Martino and this weekend was no different. Her ability to recognize and correct in the course of a game at such a young age takes some to bend out of a sharp learning curve at the elite level. While she forced some things at times she still found a way to make plays and be productive on both ends of the floor. Several times she was able to set up options for teammates off her penetration by drawing defenders and making reads that she wouldn’t have made six months back. The depth of her attack makes her a challenging match-up for the opposition both in terms of skill and physical size (5-10). Martino continues to evolve defensively as well getting multiple touches on and off the ball.
We always enjoy seeing the players who are works in progress with strong upsides. Madison Moore, a junior, may just be hitting her stride for Forest Hill Academy. The left handed forward has plenty of length and possesses the agility to make herself a presence both in transition and the halfcourt. She demonstrated the tools to put it on the floor in one and two dribble drives while finishing with a vertical that allows her to play effectively among the bigs. Without the ball she’s an active cutter and looking to make herself an option. On the catch she had some moments both scoring and passing the ball, particularly from the high post. It would be inaccurate to call her raw but there are still some rough edges to refine. Lots of promise.
Georgia signee Que Morrison of McEachern continues to be one of the most dynamic guards in the 2017 class. Calling her explosive would be an understatement. On the catch the first step is long and quick. She can take it to the rim and finish or pull up over rotating helpside defenders. The body control is there to allow her to navigate traffic allowing her to either get her shot off or make the interior pass for the layup. Fail to close out and she’ll make you pay from long range with a hard to find true jumper. Morrison plays with an attacking mentality on both ends of the floor. Defensively she’s long and active on ball but anticipates equally well one and two passes away. Strong senior year in front of her but already has that “college” look to her play.
There are very few guards as explosive as Nuemann-Goretti’s senior Chyna Nixon. The 5-9 Ole Miss signee has the physical tools to line up with the small ultra-quicks or the long, wiry wings. Her first step on both ends of the floor is long, quick and produces results. With the ball in her hands Nixon is now using a change of speed and direction on par with some players already at the collegiate level. The ensuing results leads to not only her own opportunities but breaks down defenses and leaves multiple options for her teammates. Her elevation allows for a soft floater or a strong finish at the rim as needed. Defensively and on the boards she’s aggressive, dynamic and a pain in the backside for the opposition. With focus, Nixon can be an impact player in any game she takes the floor.
While Mary Louis rode the roller coaster this weekend,2018 guard Jordan Nixon offered up a few reminders of why defenses need to pay attention to her coast to coast. With a solid, strong build at 5-9, she’s efficient on the attack and has no reservations about taking it in among the bigs. Her hesitation dribble will draw most any defender out of her stance and the acceleration will leave them behind hoping to recover. Nixon plays with impressive body control once she gets deep into the paint. She and her teammates did surprisingly struggle against full court pressure in a high profile match-up Sunday digging themselves a hole with turnovers that proved to be too deep to overcome. Defensively herself, Nixon is quick both with the feet and hands and can be an on ball nightmare.
Riverdale Baptist is in the unique position of having some evolving talent this time around. Junior Rochelle Norris has been on the radar for a while but is just starting to come into her own. The 6-3 post plays with lots of length and has an understanding of how to use it. She posts hard and makes herself an option holding her ground with a solid frame and some good strength. On the catch she goes up strong and can even call on a jump hook if the opportunity is there. Norris reads well and isn’t hesitant to pass out of the post rather than force the issue if it isn’t there. She did resort to a fall away shot a couple of times that didn’t seem to pack too much punch. Defensively she works hard one pass away but needs to stay active and ready on the weakside of the floor.
Though just a sophomore, Ashley Owusu has made sure recruiters and opponents alike are well aware of what she can do on the floor. The Paul VI guard is a power player first and foremost. That being said, she’s not the player you want to take a charge from. The explosiveness in her game is deceiving and her leaner build is serving her well on the attack. Owusu can and will knock it down deep but comfortably goes to a mid-range game or all the way to the rim when it’s called for. Her passing is evolving and teammates are getting more and more interior feeds off the drive with some zip on them. Defensively she’s assertive on ball but could turn it up a notch on the weakside of the floor. The 5-9 Owusu has the tools to be a perimeter presence on the glass as well.
There’s a glut of small, quick point guards out there these days but several are beginning to set themselves apart. Lauren Park-Lane of the Sanford School has been in the recruiting mix for a while now but there’s new maturity coming into her game that may allow the 5-4 sophomore to separate herself from the crowd. Her attack is a strong mix of speed, quickness and skills that keeps on ball defenders on their toes. She’s using combination moves in a smoother manner than the past and finding results on a consistent basis. Park-Lane keeps the ball low and all of her moves are both quick and attacking. She’s pushing the ball at opportunity and has good vision on the break leading to some downfloor options. Obviously Mother Nature is going to help out as time goes by but in the interim size doesn’t really matter if they can’t catch you.
Seton Hall signee Selena Philoxy offered up a performance that may have made other recruiters jealous of the Pirate’s November signee. The 6’1 forward is strong, aggressive and plays with a tremendous amount of confidence…and rightfully so. On the catch she regularly utilized a one dribble drive (high and low) to improve her options. She understands the traffic in the paint and handled the contact well both off the move and off the glass. Philoxy is willing to put it on the floor but appears upright at times taking it to the rim. In the end her success comes in not trying to be a three or making a living as a five. She’s a forward and an effective one at that.
We’ve watched Lindsey Pulliam evolve over the years and now the Northwestern signee appears to be playing some of her best basketball yet. The 5-10 guard has continually added depth to her skill set and demonstrates the ability to spot up, attack off the dribble or deliver the ball to a teammate with a better option. This weekend the pull up was on display to a great degree and the elevation she’s releasing the ball at will serve her well as she moves on to face Big-10 defenses. Pulliam is mixing up her speed and direction and improving both her own looks as well as those of the teammates around her. She’s reading the floor on the break and in the halfcourt and making sound decisions with the ball. The consistency will need to continue to evolve for her to keep the defenders honest this year and beyond.
Athletic, explosive, dynamic…emotional…pick your adjective. Rock Creek Christian sophomore forward Anissa Rivera fits all of those descriptions and more. A swing player with the size to play the four at 6-1 but the skills to move to the perimeter, she’s a match-up headache. The individual skills are there to create her own scoring options both off the dribble or the cut. Rivera works on her defender with both pass and shot fakes before picking her spot to attack. The jumper has elite elevation both spotted up or off the pull up. Around the rim she can finish with the opposition’s size. With all that in mind she’ll have to reel in some of the emotion that allows that last play to get in the way of the next one. The toughest defense she faced at times came from herself. All the tools are in place, it’s up to her.
One of the stronger underclass performances came from Rufus King sophomore Sydnee Roby. The 6-3 post has the size, frame and focus to advance her already established reputation among her 2019 classmates. Blessed with good hands, Roby can attack quickly on the catch and does so with an impressive understanding of the defenders around her. Several times the spin move served her well and got a quick, clean look at the rim. Even without her own options, Roby is efficient in passing the ball out of the post then reestablishing position and asking for the ball back. The ability is there to attack from the high post and her first step is deceptive to most interior defenders. Roby is willing to defend and does so physically. In turn, a couple of her fouls were avoidable and will be lessons learned for down the road.
Honesty Scott-Grayson has shown a lot over the years. What makes her game all the more special now is seeing all those elements combined and on display at the same time. The junior point guard for Paul VI is showing the diversity in her play that keeps defenses honest (no pun intended) and guessing. With the ball, she’s developing options within an offensive set as well as in transition or individual situations. The 5-9 Scott-Grayson can score spotted up deep with consistency or can take it to the rim with a multitude of options to call upon. A lot of her offense emanates from the defensive end with her aggressive on ball effort and quick hands producing turnovers. On the weakside she anticipates as well as any defender on the scholastic level. Showing a real maturation in her game.
It seems Celeste Taylor has been on the big stage for a while already but the Long Island Lutheran guard is actually just now enjoying her sophomore year. Mixing a deep and talented set of skills with good size and strength, the 5-10 Taylor is becoming a challenging match-up for most defenders. The form is there both from deep as well as off the pull up with impressive elevation from mid-range. If she goes on to the rim there’s no backing down from contact and the tools are there to convert as well as get to the line. Her ball skills allow her create her own options as well as improve passing angles to deliver the ball as warranted. Defensively she’ll get in a stance and is just as adept at making plays as she is on the offensive end of the floor. If nobody minds, we’ll keep watching some more.
There’s one simple reason Megan Walker is the number one player in the 2017 class. It’s not complicated; she’s just better than the rest and works at it. Don’t take that as a put down of the class, it’s not. It’s a compliment to Walker and the constant advancements that she’s made to her game over the years. Her performance Friday night versus highly regarded National Christian included a 31 point first half that was impressive to anyone in the gym. The confidence she’s playing with allows her to maintain an elite level in her game even on nights when she might struggle. Walker is the ideal teammate and makes those around her better. She has a strong understanding of the game including time and score, something rare on the high school level. The UConn signee is always fun to watch unless you’re sitting on the other bench.
While LaDazhia Williams isn’t the household name that many of her peers on the elite level of the 2017 class are, her game and ultimate potential continue to remind observers why the folks at South Carolina are looking forward to her future. The 6-3 Lakewood Ranch forward has the combination of size, skills and productivity that are difficult to find on any level. Williams has a solid build and the tools to work down low or away from the rim as needed. She possesses the speed to get out on the break and the agility cut on other bigs in the halfcourt. While her performance was numerically strong this weekend she wasn’t lined up against the top tier talent that she’ll need to challenge and continue to prepare her for SEC play. None the less she was productive and offered up multiple glimpses of the possibilities to come.
Bridget Arcidiacono – 2018 – 5-11 – Wing – Archbishop Wood – Fundamental wing…Able to penetrate effectively at times…Active both with and without the ball…Has some range and a touch given time…Plays with lots of effort
Leah Church – 2017 – 5-7 – Guard – Forest Trail – North Carolina signee…Lethal shooting threat from long range…Knows her role and excels at making herself available…Reads defenses both with and without the ball in her hands…Slight build and size…Willing to scrap and get on the floor
Maggie Connolly – 2018 – 5-8 – Point Guard – Ursuline Academy – Advanced understanding of the game…Ball handling and passing skills…Creates off the dribble…Plays with intensity with and without the ball…Penetrates and passes…Low release but touch and range are there…Slight build but not shy…Handles contact
Kristen Deans – 2019 – 5-4 – Point Guard – Forest Trail – Competitive young point guard…Physically strong and assertive…Takes control of the floor and directs traffic on a talented, well coached team…Set up both shots and passes with ball fakes…Not quite fluid yet in her attack the speed and quickness are there to make her a threat
Mykea Gray – 2017 – 5-5 – Point Guard – National Christian – Miami signee…Still the constant, high level attack…Plays at full speed in both full and halfcourt scenarios…Momentum player…Slithers in among the bigs…Will need to make the interior pass more efficiently and more often at the next level
Ashley Jones – 2017 – 5-7 – Point Guard – Neumann-Goretti – West Virginia signee…Quickness and athleticism at the point…Finds her own looks while setting up others…Pushes the ball from make, miss and turnover…Change of speed serves her well…Narrow base on shot
Cayla King – 2019 – 5-10 – Guard – Northwest Guilford – Very promising young guard…Strong skills and understanding of the game…Deceiving but effective individual skills…Strong passer off penetration…Reads the floor…Can spot up with range…Not quick but a very sound athlete…Size and frame are there…Lots of tools and promise
Elizabeth Kitley – 2019 – 6-4 – Post – Northwest Guilford – Legit size and frame…Understands posting angles and what she’s looking for…Has been coached…Will work for position…Protects the ball on the catch…Looks to get it out quickly off the rebound…A presence on the offensive boards as well
Rachel Levy – 2017 – 6-3 – Forward – Boca Raton – Harvard commit…Great college size and frame…Textbook post moves…Has size and strength but can play away from the rime efficiently…Can put it on the floor to a degree…Ability is there to knock down the open perimeter looks…Occasionally has her mind made up without reading the defense…Gets on the glass…Willing to mix things up
Alisha Lewis – 2019 – 5-7 – Combo – Ursuline Academy – Stroke and touch from the perimeter…Gets to the rim on a regular basis…Very efficient with the change of speed…Sees the floor…Solid passer…Will throw herself among the bigs off penetration
Imani Lewis – 2018 – 6-0 – Forward – Life Center – Athletic forward…Assertive in her play…Lefty…Not hesitant to put it up…Has a baby hook to call on…Got on the glass
Grace Marko – 2017 – 6-0 – Wing – Boca Raton – Boston College signee…Solid, strong build…Nice depth to her skill set…Can even post up efficiently when needed…Attacks the boards and gets out in the lanes…Plays mechanical at times but remains productive
Asia McCalla – 2018 – 5-5 – Point Guard – Eleanor Roosevelt – Small, quick point guard…Always attacking…Strong one on one skills…Crossover is there…Left hand needs attention…Solid passing skills in transition…Narrow base on jumper leads to a slight twist the jumper
Alex Parson – 2017 – 5-6 – Point Guard – Monacan – Richmond signee…Deceiving athlete…Feisty on both ends of the floor…Ballhandling and passing are sharp…Makes plays…Aggressive defensively
Jaida Patrick – 2019 – 5-9 – Guard – Long Island Lutheran – Dynamic athleticism…Active…First step is ultra-quick…Can play the game at full speed…Navigates traffic on the break and off penetration…Cuts hard and with intent…Vertical makes her a factor on the glass for a guard as well as on the defensive end
Danielle Patterson – 2017 – 6-2 – Wing/Guard – Mary Louis Academy – Notre Dame signee…Had some moments though not her strongest outing…Looking leaner and stronger…Has the ability to create…Offered up a more diverse attack off the drive…Was also efficient in transition at times with the ball in her hands…Elevation on the jumper continues to impress…Could be more physical defensively
Angel Reese – 2020 – 6-0 – Wing – St. Frances – Long and athletic…Continuing a year of great advancement in her game…Looking to create off the drive…Upright at times…Takes some lumps with her lean build but comes back for more…Sees the floor on the break or in the halfcourt…Wingspan serves her well on both ends…Got on the offensive glass
Grace Stone – 2018 – 5-10 – Combo – Long Island Lutheran – Playing the point but has the tools to work off ball…Reads the floor…Penetrates and makes plays…Nice size and length on the perimeter…Form is there as well as some range…Versatility makes her a valuable commodity
Rayne Tucker – 2019 – 6-0 – Forward – Good Counsel – Young forward with both the size and build…Plays with lots of effort and aggressiveness…Good mobility and a willingness to use it…Hits the boards…Potential is there…Watch
Mikayla Vaughn – 2017 – 6-3 – Forward – Paul VI – Notre Dame signee…Lefty…Strong weekend effort…Particularly efficient around the rim…More a four than a post-up…Even showed a glimpse of ballhandling…Can be smooth and fluid…Active on the glass and defensively…Elevates…Played with effort and consistency