NEW ORLEANS, Lou.- New Orleans is known for their great food and tasty treats some are well known and some you might want to sample and get to enjoy. Basketball on the Bayou is celebrating their 10 year Anniversary with over 200 teams and a boat load of college coaches lining the baselines to watch such a collection of established dishes and talented programs there were bound to be some impressive individual performances. While we sample a few other menu items who excelled, it’s worth noting that dishes like Diamond DeShields, Ieshia Small, A’Ja Wilson, Lexie Brown, Shayla Cooper, Ronni Williams, Jada Terry, Alaina Coates, Sydney Umeri, Christa Reed and many others were on hand as well. Also worth noting that all of which brought their “A” games. The focus for the Bayou was to celebrate the next group of ballers that will dominate the headlines for the upcoming years. Basketball on the Bayou had a ton of young talented prospects and here are the ones that stood out above the rest.
Youth was served at Basketball on the Bayou and the 2015’s were out in force. The last time we saw Te’A Cooper 5 foot 8 AOT Lady Rebel was at the Gold Showcase in Orlando where Cooper turned her game up in a defeat at the hands of All Ohio. Cooper’s game is continuing to evolve and her performance this week on the Bayou help lead AOT to the championship. She fits the definition of a true point guard the cool calm and collected Cooper, I like to call her “Ice Te’A” has all the moves and passes to make her teammates better. She does a great job creating opportunities and feeding the hot hand in the championship game versus a tough defensive minded Essence Purple. Cooper had a hand in on several Maryland bound Lexie Brown’s 8 3 pointers. Cooper loves to push the rock up the floor but she also understands tempo and when to slow it down. Cooper has a tremendous command of her dribble and can get in the paint at will. Defensively, Cooper is a physical on ball defender that anticipates well and jumps the passing lanes. Cooper needs to continue to work on her 3 point stroke that is the only missing constant in her otherwise complete package. Cooper a North Carolina commit will be a welcome addition on Chapel Hill.
Throughout AOT’s run to the Bayou championship and despite the presence of talented performers like Diamond DeShields, Lexie Brown, Te’A Cooper I couldn’t help but notice the multi-talented Caliya Robinson a 6-3 wing prospect with plenty of upside, she is very active at both ends of the court. Robinson has a long athletic body and has the ability to shoot the 3. Robinson is a good rebounder and runs the floor extremely well and can finish in traffic. Robinson isn't afraid to put the ball on the floor in traffic or under pressure. She needs to further develop her low-post game and hone her offensive skill set. Robinson defends well in the low post as well on the perimeter and has the tools to be a BCS prospect.
Sometimes it’s good just to walk from court to court looking for anything that catches the eye and I must say Louisiana Diamond Elite’s bright fluorescent lime green uniforms did just that. Fresh off winning the AAU D2 Nationals the three month old organization has several talented players and 6-2 Troyian Brooks, the New Orleans native, literally shined bright the lefty has long arms and is very long athletic with a nice array of skills sets. She runs the floor extremely well and pushes the ball on the fast break. Brooks has a nice stroke that extends out to 18 feet she likes to attack off the dribble and finish in the paint. Brooks has good handles, a good on ball defender, rebounds well and is a high energy player with great hops. Along with the lime green uniforms Brooks game and future is extremely bright a player definitely worth keeping your eyes on.
Ashanti Thomas the 6-4 post who plays for Kentucky PAL Jaguars has an athletic build with long arms. She's a true center and has a strong presence in the paint at both ends of the court. Thomas is a smart enough low post defender with the ability to block shots but doesn't pick up silly fouls, a trait that plagues a lot of young centers. Thomas moves and runs the floor well. She boxes out and hits the boards at both ends. Thomas on the offensive end is an effective low post scorer in the paint and is not afraid to knock down the short jumper. She needs to further develop her low post and face up game and continue to gain strength. Thomas is a work in progress with a good foundation. She has nice upside. Thomas is a mid to high prospect.
I’m always drawn to any court where a nice size post player is playing and thanks to tip from a friend I’m glad I was directed to the court to watch 6-5 Kalanie Brown daughter of former NBA player P.J. Brown. Kalanie who plays for the Lady Pumas Black was a strong powerful presence on the interior at both ends of the floor. She was a force in the paint rebounding and clogged up the middle preventing and discouraging any dribble penetration. Kalanie has solid footwork and ran the floor quite well for her size. Offensively, Kalanie does a nice job finishing in the paint and a decent passer. She a work in progress and the key word is work from watching her play and energy level it appears that her putting in work won’t be an issue. Expect Kalanie, the Slidell, Louisiana native, to be highly recruited. Stay tuned.
I only need two words to describe the dynamic unassuming 5-10 Asia Durr - "Dewayne Wade.” Watching Durr she reminded me of NBA All-Star Dwayne Wade. She tenaciously attacked the passing lanes with reckless abandon and defended the perimeter, consistently hounding her opposition into turnovers with steal after steal. Offensively Durr can do it all. She scores from every way imaginable attacking off the dribble with a really sweet combination of a crossover into a step-back jumper. Durr continued the onslaught by penetrating the paint with a purpose, looking to score or create opportunities for teammates and she succeeded on both counts. Durr is an excellent athlete and has a chance to be one of the best guards in her class.
Big guards are a huge commodity and a match up nightmare for opposing teams if you’re a looking for a commodity to invest in I suggest you take a look at 6-1 Ja’Tavia Tapley. The Jacksonville, Fla native, who plays for Essence 2016 is a long athletic wing that reminds me of current WNBA Phoenix Mercury standout DeWanna Bonner. Tapley loves to shoot the 3 ball which she does quite well she stoked multiple treys. Tapley has a sweet right to left crossover and attacks off the dribble and can finish with either hand. She made several no look passes and has good court vision and like most Essence players she a good on ball defender. Tapley rebounds well for her position and needs to add strength to her wiry frame. With continue development Tapley has all the tools to be a special player.
I’ve said it once and I will say it again I always enjoy watching young post players and 6-3 Hayley Duren for Essence 2016, from Davie, Fla fits the bill. Duren has a college frame with long arms and runs the floor well. Duren has a high motor hustles and is very active at both ends. She likes to bang around the glass fighting for rebounds. Duran has good hands and finishes in the paint. She needs to continue to develop her offensive low post game. Duren is a solid on ball and low post defender with excellent timing for blocking shots. Really like Duren’s game and potential she has a big upside.
This second viewing of 6-2 Joyner Holmes was telling it confirmed my early assessment of her game. Holmes a very athletic forward, who plays for the Dallas Heroes, played a solid all-around game. Holmes was a force at both ends of the court, scoring in the paint with a variety of moves. On the perimeter, Holmes can knock down the mid-range or 3-point shot. She rebounded extremely well. Holmes ran the floor extremely well and finished off the break that she started with a block at the other end. She is a very poised low-post defender with excellent timing and used those skills to block several shots and alter dozens more. She is athletic enough to defend out on the perimeter as well. Holmes is an excellent leaper with a ton of potential a definite BCS prospect
Point guard Khayla Pointer a 5-5 show stopper from Marrietta, Georgia patterned her game after NBA All-Star and current Olympian Chris Paul or CP3. Pointer the niece of LSU Head Coach Nikki Caldwell, a cat-quick, ultra speedy guard played a stellar all-around game. Pointer likes to attack off the dribble, with either hand, looking to create contact and finish in traffic. She also showed the willingness to manufacturer her shot by attacking off the bounce as well as consistently draining the spot up jumper. Pointer did a great job of pushing the ball up the floor on made and missed baskets. When the opposing team made a run to cut into the Georgia Pistols lead, she calmly drained several big buckets and converted back-to-back steals into points, putting the game out of reach. Pointer played aggressive at both end of the court and has a knack for being around the ball. She dropped several timely dimes in crunch time as well. Pointer rebounds well for her position and is an excellent on ball defender. Pointer did a super job watching and learning from one of the best point guards in the world and is well on her way to being a female version of CP3. Pointer has all the tools to be a big time point guard with BCS conference potential written all over her game. Sorry coaches but Pointer already told me that she is going wherever her aunt is coaching.
Alexis Morris a 5-8 speedy combo guard from Houston Hoops played extremely well. Morris had her entire repertoire on display. She used her killer crossover, coupled with her explosive first step, to attack the paint looking to score or dish to slashing teammates. Morris used her speed and quickness to get out and finish off the break weaving in and out of traffic handling the rock equally with both hands. Morris also showed that she can consistently stroke the mid-range jumper as well as be a threat from beyond the arc, forcing opponents to choose their poison. Morris can translate her speed and athleticism to pay great dividends on the defensive end forcing turnovers and cashing in on the other end. Morris has a very mature game for her age and it will only get better with time.
Prentice Beverly is a National Evaluator for Blue Star Media and the owner of Balln Prep Girls. He also works for Girl Powher Showcases, Schollyme.com and is the Author of “Navigating the Maze” a grassroots reference guide to women’s college basketball recruiting. Beverly has spent 15 years coaching high school and club basketball and resides in Montgomery, Alabama.