NEW YORK,N.Y.—January and the new year always holds plenty of promise for the future as do the young and developing prospects in the upcoming middle school classes. Though it started early in the morning, plenty of future ‘stars” were out and shining last weekend in the Bronx for the NYGHoops Coast 2 Coast Middle School Showcase. Here’s our take on some of what the future just might hold in a gym near you sometime soon.
Though the talent was plentiful, one athlete in particular jumped out immediately. Ava Learn, a 6-0 2021 guard playing for Saint Martin de Porres (N.Y.), made herself known as soon as the first drills began. Displaying a high IQ and skill set, Learn also showed off impressive footwork and passing abilities. Once the games began she also proved to be a capable ball handler, often getting a defensive rebound and then pushing the ball down the court herself. She scored plenty inside, but it was her outside shot that really had people taking notice. After hitting a few set shots, Learn came down later in the last game, crossed over, stepped back and drained a deep three with a defender in her face. The shot sent the crowd into a frenzy and served as the perfect bookend on Learn’s impressive day.
Not to be outdone, two other members of the 2021 class, Alexandra Tarul and Brooke Tatarian, made sure folks on hand took notice. Tarul already possess the size, 5-10, and ability to play the 1, 2, or 3 spots. Strong enough to fend off defenders when driving to the hoop, the St. Clares (N.Y.) backcourt standout can also handle the ball well when serving at the point guard spot. Though her outside shot still needs to develop a bit more consistency, Tarul is able to create any type of look she wants at virtually any time. The potential is there to turn into an elite level scorer at the next level.
Tatarian, Bronxville HS (N.Y.), is one of those players with a game that turns out to be much different than you expected on first impression. Standing at 5-9 with a lanky build, Tatarian proved to have no issues getting into the paint or taking contact. She showed a good feel for the game and never seemed to get caught just standing around. That being said, the promising guard can sincerely make you pay from long range. Possessing a smooth and effortless stroke, the defense was forced to regret every time she was left open from deep, a characteristic that should continue to serve her well when she enters high school next year.
The 2022 class had plenty to offer in terms of talent, but it was Paris Clark and Abbie Grace who seemed to stand out from the crowd. The 5-6 Clark walked into the gym with some Clark Kent-style glasses that once removed, just like the Man of Steel, revealed some super powers. Unrelenting on both sides of the ball, she never seemed to slow down over the course of the day. Showing off quick hands with several steals, she then used her athleticism in transition while finishing in a variety of ways. As her offensive game continues to flourish Clark, from St. Raymond (N.Y.), is a name to know for the future.
While Clark was busy making plays for her team, opposite her was someone with a few more inches to call upon. Ichabod Crane Middle School’s (N.Y. ) Grace, who stands 6’0 tall, plays with the type of enthusiasm that makes basketball people smile. Already possessing good footwork in the post, she also has a nice touch from the outside making her the type of stretch 4 player that is in high demand nowadays. Persistent on the boards as well, Grace demonstrated as much promise as anyone in the gym.
Leyla Castro- 2022- 5-2- Jonas Salk MS (N.J.) – Small combo guard…Hits open jumpers… Does a good job scoring in traffic…Solid ball handler…Needs to be a bit more consistent…Keep your eye on
Niaisya Ervin- 2021- 5-7- Rise Academy Charter School (N.J.) – Lefty with a smooth stroke…Handles are solid…Needs to work on condition a bit…Has the tools to be very good
Kylie Favours- 2021- 5-6- Guard- Carl Sandberg MS (N.J.) – Really nice combo guard… good stroke and ability to score… smart, savvy… Going to be very good
Saniyah Glenn- 2022- 5-9- St. Teresa’s (N.Y.) – Long and athletic…Showed an ability to get to the rim and finish… isruptive on defense…Lots of potential
Kayla Halvorsen- 2021- 5-6- Dobbs Ferry MS (N.Y.) – Strong 2-guard with decent passing and ball handling skills…Offensive game is still growing…Works extremely hard…Potential
Gabrielle Hemenes- 2022- 5-11- St. Marks (N.Y.) – Athletic forward…Still raw offensively but can finish around the rim in a variety of ways…Rebounds…Runs the floor well…Lots of possibilities
Amanda Latkany- 2021- 5-10- Rye MS (N.Y.) – Long, lean guard…Nice stroke and ability to hit the three…Works hard on both ends…Has some athleticism…Keep an eye on
Zaria Lewis- 2023- 6-0- IS61 (N.Y.) – Tough, strong forward…Rebounds like her life depends on it…Finishes through contact… oung and still developing…Watch
Janel Moore- 2021- 5-4- Saddle River MS (N.Y.) – Strong, tough PG…Gets into the paint and makes good decisions…Plays with intensity
Cierra Pearson- 2022- 5-8- Thomas Jefferson MS (N.Y.) – Strong PG…Good ball handler who gets into the paint at will…Tough…Solid offensive game…Showed the ability to make good decisions
Natalie Pence- 2021- 5-8- Fox Lane MS (N.Y.).- Lean forward who still is coming into her own…High motor…Constantly goes hard…Finishes through contact…Can score in bunches
Kayla Perez- 2022- 5-7- Calvary Academy (N.J.) – Point guard with incredible passing ability…Plays with flare… Occasionally tries to be too “fancy” with the ball…Good handle and stroke…If she stays in control, sky’s the limit
Skye Owen- 2022- 5-5- St. Teresa’s (N.Y.) – Has that “it” factor…Seems to always be in the right place…Good ball handler and decision maker…Athletic and finishes in a number of ways
Angelica Velez- 2022- 5-5- FDA 5 (N.Y.) – Developing point guard with good skill set…Can score, especially in open court…Good decision maker