COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—The structure of the USA Basketball U16 trials provides for three sessions of skill work before reality sets in and the heat is turned up in the actual trials themselves. This year 124 participants, 32 invited by USA Basketball and 92 open applicants, are competing for 12 spots to represent the Red, White and Blue in Cancun, Mexico next month in the FIBA America’s U16 Championship.
While skill instruction can provide some insight to an athlete’s ability and potential, it’s the actual full court competition that reveals who’s bringing what to the table. The 5 on 5 opportunities have been limited thus far, however we thought we would offer up five athletes apiece who caught our eye in Friday evening’s first audition plus a one liner as to just why we liked them. Some are obvious but we were also looking for those who may be emerging, evolving or just beginning to tap into the possibilities in front of them.
With three sessions each Saturday and Sunday, the competition will only get more intense for the chance make the final cut. Everyone will be back in action Saturday morning before the selection committee will begin narrowing the field working towards Monday’s formal roster announcement. Survive and advance isn’t just for March Madness!
Erin Boley (Hodgenville, Ky. – Elizabethtown H.S.) – 6-2 – 2016 - An extremely efficient wing, she knows how to play without the ball and finish plays.
Kalani Brown (Slidell, La. – Salmen H.S.) – 6-5 – 2015 - This lefty can dominate the paint on both sides of the ball and has excellent footwork plus counter moves in the post.
Lauren Cox (Flower Mound, Texas – Flower Mound H.S) – 6-4 – 2016 - With the height of a post player and the skill of a shooting guard, she draws immediate comparison to Elena Delle Donne.
Arike Ogunbowale (Milwaukee, Wisc. – Divine Savior of Holy Angels H.S.) – 5-9 – 2015 - A dynamic scoring guard who makes tough shots from anywhere on the court while having a natural feel for the game.
Kylee Shook (Colorado Springs, Colo. – Mesa Ridge H.S.) – 6-3 – 2016 - With both excellent body control and length, she showed well as a wing.
Mikayla Boykin (Clinton, N.C. – Sampson M.S.) – 5-9 – 2017 - This is an impressive eighth grader who appeared to being pressing early but finished on a high note.
Lauren Brozoski (Cambria heights, N.Y. – Long island Lutheran H.S.) – 5-5 – 2015 - This ultra-quick floor general did an excellent job of involving her teammates giving herself a shot at making the cut.
Qaeda Ismail (Bel Air, Md. – Patterson Mill H.S.) – 6-0 - 2015 - A fun to watch, versatile athlete with the ability to play multiple positions.
Tori McCoy (Champaign, Ill. – The H.S. of St. Thomas Moore) – 6-4 – 2016 - A 6-3 forward that had her all-around game on display proving that she is indeed "The Real McCoy".
Anna Wilson (Richmond, Va. – Collegiate School) – 5-7 - 2016- A freshman, true point guard with a high basketball IQ and a controlled calmness far beyond her years.
Jaelyn Brown (Murrieta, Ga. – Vista Murrieta H.S.) – 6-1 –2016 - This left handed slasher has a long, lean build and creates plenty of options while getting to the rim almost at will.
Natalie Chou (Plano, Texas – Plano West H.S.) – 6-1 – 2016 – Lots of size, skills and instinct allow this versatile wing to make impressive plays on the break or in the halfcourt.
Chelsea Dungee (Okmulgee, Okla. – Preston Public School) – 5-11 – 2016 – Physically strong on the wing, her individual skills allow her to create looks or passes effectively.
Joyner Holmes (Cedar Hill, Texas – Cedar Hill H.S.) – 6-3 – 2016 – Once you get past the eye catching size, build and frame you realize there’s some evolving skills that will take her however far she’s willing to work for.
Sydney Morang (New Providence, N.J. – New Providence H.S.) – 6-0 – 2016 – A lefty with lots of length, she’s showing a lot of promise down the road with continued development.