BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The blitz of tournaments dotting the club basketball landscape continues as we round the corner and head towards the NCAA July Evaluation Period. Don’t think for a moment that these events are “non-recruiting”. Last weekend 52 Division II, III, NAIA and Junior College recruiters were courtside in Bloomington along with Blue Star, All Star Girl’s Report and Colligate Girls’ Basketball Report for the eighth annual Summer Jam presented by North Tartan Basketball.
Players and teams from seven different states competed in 12 separate divisions beginning last Friday and culminating in Sunday’s championship play. All 168 teams enjoyed the impressive multi court facilities at Bloomington Jefferson and Bloomington Kennedy High Schools while offering up a glimpse of what the Midwest has to offer now and in many classes to come.
In the top Lake Minnetonka Division, after a challenging semifinal win over the Cornhusker Shooting Stars, host North Tartan Nike Elite took home bragging rights with a 76 – 27 championship romp over the Metro Stars. More impressive was the fact that the win came without the services of both Savanna Trapp and impact new addition Nia Coffey. The Northwestern committed Coffey’s performance throughout the weekend was exceptional on both ends while the 6-7 Trapp was limited to just one game after breaking a bone in her hand in Friday’s opener.
The Lake Nokomis Division had two separate brackets that saw the Minnesota Fury 2014 Blue team take honors in one while Lakes Elite came out on top on the opposite side. Sunday’s afternoon’s championship game saw an impressive, well coached battle go to Lakes Elite by virtue of a 43 – 38 margin.
For complete brackets and results from the 2012 Summer Jam please follow the link below.
Here’s a quick glance at some of the team’s that turned up the heat in the 2012 Summer Jam.
North Tartan Nike Elite
In addition to taking home the championship hardware the blue and white also provided a glimpse of the depth that should serve them well between now and their final stop in Augusta at the end of July. It’s hard to talk about North Tartan without starting first with Rebekah Dahlman. The 5-9 combo provided her usual diverse, skilled and intense play that produces consistent results. Easily one of the more complete players in the 2013 class she appears to still be advancing her game which is welcome news for her teammates and bad news for opponents. As mentioned earlier, 6-1 Nia Coffey is now on board and she’s picked up where she left off with her impressive play at this year’s USA Basketball U17 / U18 Trials. Another 2013, Coffey appears ready to make some noise among the elite of the class. The youngest player in the lineup provided some eye catching play as well. T’Aire Starks, a 2015 5-8 guard, has all the tools to be an impact player on both ends of the floor and has a future limited only by what she wants to do with it. Backcourt mates Joanna Hedstrom and Tesha Buck continue to offer up experienced and mature play. The Minnesota bound Hedstrom was instrumental down the stretch in the semifinal win over the Cornhusker Shooting Stars. Savanna Trapp’s single game Friday again offered all the reasons that 6-7 post has hopeful college coaches excited about her long term prospects.
Cornhusker Shooting Stars
Despite dropping their last two games of the weekend few folks in attendance would disagree about the promise that this team displayed. Playing without established, multi-talented, Iowa bound 2013 guard Alexa Kastanek, the folks from Nebraska looked more to their size for results and though the numbers didn’t go their way the possibilities were very evident. Chatrice White continues to evolve into one of the more coveted posts in the 2014 class. Size, strength and skills go with a blue collar work ethic to set her apart from the crowd. She does expose the ball a lot in her offensive attack leading to a few more strips and blocks than normal for a player of her caliber but it’s something easily corrected. Heading up the youth movement for the Cornhuskers is 6-1 wing / forward Jessica Shepard. With the always popular combination of size and perimeter skills, the 2015 standout has the tools to be effective down low or off the drive. On the catch she’s assertive and looking to create her own looks. She relies a little too much on the spin move at this point but will learn quickly that defenders will exploit its overuse. Shepard didn’t seem to be interested in shooting the perimeter but displayed nice form at the line. Despite her size and a somewhat thicker build, her footspeed and understanding of spacing made her deceivingly quick on the ball defensively.
Metro Stars (Black)
The Metro Stars came up on the extreme short end in the final but this well coached group did find their way into Sunday’s championship match up. Early in the game standout guard MC McGory was given a permanent front row seat by officials after mixing things up just a bit too aggressively on a loose ball with Rebekah Dahlman. McGory’s loss didn’t alter the outcome of the game but things may have gone a little smoother with the 5-8 point guard in the lineup. The senior to be is physically strong on the perimeter and combines textbook skills with an intense approach. Another 2013, 5-10 Paige Waytashek, made some solid plays using both her size and fundamental skills. The tools are there to handle not only the point but to also to play the off guard spot as well. Footspeed is suspect defensively but effort and court awareness help compensate. Inside Tiffaney Flaata provided a sound effort. Standing 6-2 she was active both near the rim and in the high post. Another 2013, she can run the floor and isn’t hesitant to push back inside. Flaata also has a solid array of post moves to the middle and baseline.
North Tartan 15U
Calling this group 15U is a bit misleading. All are members of the 2014 class and entering their junior year next fall. Other than their less than stellar performance in the semis against the Metro Stars their weekend was essentially a success, including a win over the Cornhusker Shooting Stars in the consolation final. Point guard Kenisha Bell may have as much speed with the ball in her hands as any athlete on the high school level. Her acceleration is the kind of thing tailbacks hope for. On the ball defensively the 5-9 Bell can make an opponent look to give the ball up early or be content to settle for jumpers. Tonoia Wade may be on the verge of a special summer. Standing a legit 6-1 she has the tools to be an inside out threat and the attacking mentality to make the most of either approach. She’s active on both ends of the floor and could be a match up headache on both ends as well. Without the ball in her hands Wade posesses that hard to find skill of staying active and cutting aggressively. Another standout was guard Cayla McMorris. Wiry and strong she’s got an impressive first step offensively and the lateral speed to contain most any match up defensively. There are still some rough edges to smooth out but the potential is obvious and considerable.
Kingdom Hoops Elite
One of the younger teams in the top division was this group out of Iowa which featured just three 2013 players on the roster. A trio of backcourt players puts the “go” in this transition team. Roichelle Marble, a 2014 point guard, has explosive speed as well as sharp ballhandling and passing skills. At 5-6 she’s more effective with her pull up than getting all the way to the rim but isn’t shy about throwing her body in there anyway. Perimeter consistency will need to come for defenders to play her straight up. Also entering her junior year, 5-6 Madison Agey is the kind of point guard who just makes plays. Constantly attacking, she reads the floor well and is adept at knocking down the open look or delivering the ball to a teammate with a better opportunity. Another 5-6 point guard, 2015 Whitney Fuller, seems to be everywhere. She’s smart, fundamental and has the skills to create passes and shots. On the inside, 6-2 forward Meredith Burkhall has the size and build that recruiters notice. Some tools are already in place but there’s still some refinement to be done.
The North Tartan program demonstrated depth not only on their top roster but among their younger teams as well. The 14U team has yet to drop a game this spring or summer and has some impressive 2015 talent to keep an eye on. Monica Burich is a backcourt standout with both size and length while Brooke Heggie had some strong moments down on the block. Courtney Fredrickson is a talented 2016 guard on the same roster worth watching very closely.
The All Iowa Attack program was on hand with high profile 2013 guard and Iowa State commit Jadda Buckley but their top team dropped two of their first three contests and endured a coaching ejection. Buckley had some moments but seemed off her game in comparison to past performances. Shaya Kellogg, a 6-2 2013 forward, has the size, build and strength but may need to zero in on low post work or expanding her game from the high post rather than mixing things up right now. AIA brought over 10 teams to Bloomington including some very promising younger groups that should develop over time.
The Minnesota Fury 2014 Blue team won their side of the Lake Nokomis Division but dropped the final against a very balanced Lakes Elite squad. The Fury has a couple of 2014’s that will make you take a second look. Versatile forwards Kylie Brown and Ellie Thompson both have diverse skill sets that allow them to operate effectively away from the rim or while navigating the paint. Brown stands 6-2 and Thompson is pushing 6-1 but both have the agility and speed to be a factor both in transition or the halfcourt.
A Couple of 2014 Individuals
It would be difficult not to notice talented 2014 guard Carlie Wagner of the Minnesota Stars – Taylor. The 5-8 guard has the ballhandling skills that allow her to create and improve offensive opportunities at will. Her use of both a change of speed and direction bring defenders out of their stance time and again while the scoring ability is there to make them pay dearly for doing so. She can get all the way to the rim but is just as comfortable with the pull up and more than willing to give it up for a teammate’s better look. Wagner did give up some penetration defensively at times as a result of overplaying the ball but has the tools to contain when focused.
Haley Lorenzen of the All Iowa Attack – Johnson squad offered up some interior play that was worth noting. At 6-2 the size is in place to go with some good mobility. There are some sound post moves that, while methodical, are effective in creating a good look at the rim for her. She keeps it high on the catch and makes good decisions as to when to attack and when to pitch it back out. Physically the 2014 forward will need to add some strength for the long run but two more years of high school and Mother Nature’s good graces should take care of that.
The Future…Two 2016’s to Watch
Nia Hollie of the Minnesota Stars – Martin 13U has lots of tools to call on, especially when you consider that she’s a member of the class of 2016. A dynamic 5-9 athlete, she’s explosive with the ball in her hands and plays with some individual skills players several years older only wish that they had in their arsenal. Getting to the rim is seldom an issue and once she hits the traffic she can score it herself or drop off a deceiving pass inside. The stroke looks sound on her spot up shot and the pull up seems to serve her well if defenses begin to rotate effectively. Defensively herself, she anticipates well and almost seems to relish cutting off ballhandlers and turning them time and again. Hollie can be emotional at times but continued success, confidence and maturity will keep her focus in check.
Another 2016 that might have folks keeping a long term eye on Minnesota is Taylor Koenen of the Minnesota Fury 2016 Blue team. Long and lean at 6-0, she’s got ball skills and instincts that allow her to create her own looks but to also set up her teammates. Her first step is deceptively quick and its length makes it difficult for defenders to recover. She has the agility to defend on the perimeter right now but will need some physical maturing down the road to mix things up inside against older talent. Lots of tools are in place. For you older folks, think Kate Starbird (former Stanford standout) as a ninth grader.
And as long as were talking age…
How about 2021 point guard Jade Hill? The younger sister of Minnesota’s former All-Time scoring leader (her record was broken in March by Rebekah Dahlman) and current Ohio State Buckeye Tayler Hill is already showing she’s got game. For those of you trying to do the math, that’s fourth grade NEXT year!!
Mark Lewis is a national evaluator and photographer for Blue Star Basketball as well as the lead columnist for Blue Star Media. Twice ranked as one of the top 25 Division I assistant coaches in the game by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), he has more than 20 years of college coaching experience at Memphis State, Cincinnati, Arizona State, Western Kentucky and Washington State. Lewis also serves as a member of the prestigious McDonald’s All-American selection committee.