We hear in real estate that the most important sales characteristic is – location, location, location! Well, the same held true this past weekend in Suwanee, Georgia for the Nike Skills Camp. Over 62 athletes came together to get trained by the likes of Joe Ciampi, Dee Brown, Fred Williams, and Jeff House. The athletes did not disappoint in the hours of skill development, SPARQ training, and of course competition.
By far, the post players were truly represented in every class:
2012 – Rachel Hollivay – 6’5’’
The old adage, “you can’t teach height”, holds true to Hollivay. However, in her instance, it should be “you can’t teach height, length, and athleticism.” There are not many post players that have all three. Hollivay’s ability to run the floor and finish so well in transition gives her an immediate edge. But she also has the explosiveness to explode over her defenders and affect every shot that comes into the lane. Hollivay’s growth will come with strength and footwork. Her skills today allow her to do the basics on the blocks but with the addition of a couple of counters and some footwork to create an advantage, Hollivay will be unstoppable and the top post player in the country. She is already around the rim with her length, size, and explosiveness and that is good enough majority of the time. However, if the strength of her upperbody and core grows – add “and 1” to Rachel’s nickname because no one will be able to contain her.
2012 – Ariel Butts – 6’2
It is hard to find a player that just goes so hard in both drills and games that it looks scary. This is the case with Butts and her skill has grown so much with her body. Butts ability to create space and finish with contact is unlike any other in her class. She has the footwork and athleticism necessary to go by any big post player and the strength to go through an undersized post. The question for Butts will be her ability to create range and consistency with her shot. She can knock down the 10 to 15 footer fairly well but that’s about it. Butts ‘is the ultimate power forward and does all the small things that make a big impact on the game. She is always around the ball and all over the glass which is every coaches dream.
2013 – Ronnie Williams – 6’2’’
Post might start an argument to Williams true position. Her future lies in the swing forward position because of her versatility and skill set. Williams is a smooth long player that can do it all. You find her constantly around the ball and when she scores she does it in many different ways. Williams has taken her range and added consistency to the line of descriptors. She consistently was able to create and knock down 15ft jumpers with solid defenders challenging. Williams strength lies in her work ethic and attitude, as she is a teammate and coaches’ dream. Her length and body definitely could use strength so that she could add power moves to her resume when small defenders decide to guard her. However, Williams better have unlimited minutes because April 1st next year – her phone will be ringing off the hook.
2014 – Nasheema Oliver – 6’4’’
Power is the first word that comes to mind but when you see this big framed strong post. At her age, Oliver is a woman amongst girls on the floor but her personality definitely shows that she is a freshman! Oliver’s energy on the floor is contagious and her athleticism is incredible for her size. Her ability to grab any board within 3 feet and start the break is something you do not see at her age. However, Oliver’s biggest strength is her hands. They are soft, big, and you can add this to her great ability to pass. Oliver was impressive in drills but it definitely showed that footwork and post development would be the key to see if Oliver is a top 15 or top 50 player. However, its true – guards rule! Nike Skills Atlanta was filled with top guards in the country and it was obvious watching by the way they worked. Here are a few that stood out with both BIG AND SMALL guards:
BIG GUARDS 2012 –
Breana McDonald – 6’0
This long athletic guard was impressive when competition started. It seemed like the engine kicked in gear and blew the competition out of the water. McDonald’s ability to rise over anybody in the gym allowed her to get to the cup whenever she wanted. More importantly, she could finish over the bigs because like them – she was at the rim. McDonald has taken her midrange game and made it a big part of her game. But consistency from behind the arc is where this guard will grow and be a major force at any major program in the country. 2012 – Alexis Prince – 6’2’’ Although the royal wedding happened on Friday – the only Prince that was being spoke about was Alexis Prince from Edgewater, Florida. Early in the process, many used the word potential to describe Prince. However, potential has become reality. Prince’s size and skill is already at the level to compete at a major program. Prince is smooth in her release from any distance on the floor. Her instincts and ability to pass in transition was impressive this weekend. Prince can really do it all and her growth will be on the defensive end of the floor. Many watch Prince and talk about her effort but she is just smooth and does not play with a large amount of emotion. The Nike Skills’ coaches loved her and many said “she has just scratched the surface” – so I guess the next potential is becoming unstoppable.
2014 – Aja Wilson – 6’2’’
WOW – the only word that comes to your mind when you see this youngster. Wilson will be a national player of the year candidate in her class. Her size is incredible but her athleticism is matching. Maturation will be key to develop strength and fill out her body’s long arms and feet. Wilson ran the floor – finished with contact – created off the dribble – and consistently knocked down shots from 10 to 22 ft consistently all weekend. Wilson’s work ethic and happy-go-lucky attitude helps to understand why she will be a special player. The hope is that she spends the majority of her time in the weight room, focusing on ball handling, and becoming more fluid with the ball in her hands. However, just sit back and watch this kid dominate players that are older and younger.
SEC commits Majorie Butler and Andraya Carter were terrific all weekend. They led in almost every drill and their ability to do drills at the highest level all weekend was impressive. There were, however, some young guards that really showed that they belong in the same sentence.
2013 – Alexis Brown
Brown was impressive all weekend but more importantly she was one of the few who hit shots behind the arc consistently. But she is not just a shooter. Brown’s instincts and IQ is ahead of her time. She makes all the right decisions with the ball and can create for not only herself but others.
2013 – Kianna Holland
Holland impressed everyone at the gym with her ability to rise up over defenders and show off the lost art of a pull-up. Her ball handling is terrific especially in the half court. Holland changes direction and speed better than anyone in the country. This was great to see after she spent a year off the court with a knee injury. As Holland comes back, she needs to continue to work on her consistency beyond the arc and her ability to create for her others.
2013 – Tarynn Griffey
Small but explosive. Griffey gave us a little bit of everything this past weekend. Her ability to get her shot off in traffic is terrific especially because she can get by any defender in the country. Griffey’s open floor decision-making and instincts with the ball helped to separate her from the group in skill work and competition. The great news is that Griffey can knock down open shots fairly consistently. Blue Star National Evaluator - Patrick Klein