NASHVILLE, Tenn.– On a weekend designated to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., perhaps the south was a most fitting place to symbolize the message, influence and legacy of the iconic leader of the civil rights movement. Taking place at Whites Creek High School, the Music City Classic intertwined both boy’s and girl’s games, with six girl’s teams participating from four different states.
While the talent was abundant, it was hard not to determine that 2017 UNC signee Janelle Bailey had the greatest impact on her team. The Providence Day (NC) center and her team went 0-2 on the weekend, but that was of no fault of the 6-3 center and 2016 USA Women’s U17 team member. Playing without their starting point guard due to an injury, Providence Day struggled to deal with the pressing opposition, and Bailey was often tasked with helping break the pressure. Despite being away from the basket to assist in the press attack, Bailey was able to put up an impressive stat line of 20 points and 26 rebounds in their first contest, then backed it up with 21 points and 9 rebounds the next day. Bailey displays impressive hands and an array of old school post moves. Her strength and ability to finish through contact will serve her well as she looks to make an immediate impact next season in the ACC.
One of the reasons Bailey and her team found themselves on the losing end in their first game was the play of Louisville Male High School’s (KY) guard Emilia Sexton, and forward Cameron Browning who made sure LMHS continued their winning ways on day two. Sexton, a 5-7 point guard and Butler commit, scored 19 in her first game, going 7-of-9 from the field and 5-of-7 from three point range. Not only was her range on display all weekend (she hit three more from deep in game two), but her timeliness was impossible to ignore. Anytime LMHS needed a big shot, Sexton stepped up and hit it. While defensively she will need to continue to improve in order to guard in the Big East, her offense is already at that level.
Her teammate Browning stole the spotlight in game two, putting up an impressive 24 points and 13 rebounds. Just a sophomore, Browning already has the strength and athleticism of someone much older. Not completely polished yet, the 6-2 center does have a variety of post moves that she can use to go along with a nice looking stroke outside of the paint. She gets up off the floor for rebounds and, if no guard is available, is comfortable enough with the ball to push it up the floor herself. She also has the perfect balance of strength and mobility; she rim runs with the best of them but if you meet her in the paint, she is more than ready to mix things up.
Ranking among the elite high school teams in the country, Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (TN) has an embarrassment of riches. With point guard Jazmine Massengill committing to Tennessee before their first game, and teammates Treasure Hunt, Elizabeth Balogun and Kamilla Cardosa all receiving high level interest, it is very easy to get enamored with any of them. Two other players stood out this weekend, however, and the first was Alabama State signee Amber Hunt. In a game that she was, simply put, “feelin it”, Hunt dropped 30 points while hitting 7-of-9 from deep. At one point in the third quarter, four straight trifectas from the hand of Hunt found the bottom of the net and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
With Hunt having the performance she did, in addition to those of the other aforementioned players, it is easy to lose sight of the role players on HHCA, but Rokia Doumbia continues to impress. Not asked to take on a scoring burden for her team, Doumbia is left to make an impact in any way she can and, in turn, she does it in many different ways. A terror for opposing ball handlers, Doumbia has the athletic ability to stay in front of nearly anyone while never seeming to get tired. Though a capable shooter, her real talent is shown in transition. Quick, agile and able to get to the rim, Doumbia can contort her body to finish in traffic in ways not often seen in the girl’s game. The 5-8 sophomore picked up an offer from a D-1 school after the weekend and it surely won’t be her last.
Another player that could slip under the radar if you aren’t paying attention is Memphis Central High School (TN) sophomore Kynadi Kuykendoll. Standing just 5-4, the young point guard does so many of the little things you want as a coach that her size doesn’t seem to impact at all. Unselfish with the ball, Kuykendoll made several passes in transition that drew oohs and ahhs from the crowd, including one behind that back pass that forced a timeout due to how loud the gym got. With that passing ability, a developing outside game, good athleticism and the ability to defend at a high level, Kuykendoll is one to keep your eye on.
The last game of the weekend displayed two talents who are at completely different places in their careers. The first is LSU bound Khayla Pointer from Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School (GA). Pointer is one of the most athletic point guards you’ll find at this level getting into the paint at will then elevating to make a play. A stationary threat from three, Pointer is the type of point guard that can score in buckets making her a hard match up for any defense. The rest of the SEC should have their hands full for the next few years as Pointer suits up for the Tigers next season.
Brentwood Academy (TN) countered Pointer with a promising guard of their own. Just a freshman, Blair Schoenwald immediately jumped out as someone who can impact a game by nailing a three-pointer early on with a smooth looking, left handed jumper. At 5-8 Schoenwald is tall enough to survey the floor without much issue but her strength is what is most impressive. Not overly fast, she uses her strength and savviness to get to the rim and finish despite contact. Able to slide over to the two-guard spot, Schoenwald’s has the potential to end up as one of the elite guards in her class.