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CINCINNATI, Ohio – With the sun set to rise on the NCAA July live period, it was the class of 2024 who served up an appetizer of great basketball to come as they gathered in the metropolitan Cincinnati for the 2017 Amateur Athletic Union 5th Grade National Championships last weekend.

Of course, 99 percent of these players have yet to even step foot in a middle school classroom yet but it’s obvious that they love the game and clearly have devoted so much time already to playing it at a high level.  While there are no guarantees or crystal balls to see into the future with, it’s a safe bet some of these players are well on the way to making their mark in the years ahead..

These kids are part of the future of women’s basketball. Many are getting some excellent coaching from some strong leaders who are helping lay the foundation for their basketball futures on and off the court.  Playing basketball at a high level at such a young age is good for the game.  Having a love and appreciation for basketball so early in life is special and hopefully will endure as they mature and grow. It’s cliché, and a term that gets thrown around way too much, but these truly are the “grassroots” all of us hear so much about.  We look forward to seeing them again and checking out the progress they make each time they’re in the gym.

Here are some players who we caught doing some things well to help their teams compete for a National Championship last weekend in Cincinnati.

Jania Akins – 2024 – 5-7 – Point Guard/Guard – Team Elite Register — Has another gear when the ball is in her hands…Can really get out and pressure the ball on D…Shooting the three ball with ease…Can score at all levels…Played a strong game against elite competition…Skilled, athletic scorer with body control

Jaloni Cambridge – 2024 – 5-7 – Guard – TN The Family — Fast and explosive off the bounce…Freezes and blows by defenders…Creative finisher…Gets up off the ground…Long arms and active hands on D…Two way impact player

Madelyne Davis – 2024 – 5-3 – Guard – Lady Bucks 2024 — Skilled young guard…Can handle and hit the pull up jumper…High IQ and a good first step to the rim…Looks smooth and natural on the drive

Jada Eads – 2024 – 5-4 – Point Guard – Florida Lightning — Great handles in tight spaces…Wraps the ball up strong and gets into the lane…Has some springs in her legs…Utilizes a legit step back three pointer with results…Potential to be a two way impact player

Alaira Evans – 2024 – 5-10 – Forward – West Virginia Thunder 2024 — Well built…Versatile young player…Scored in a variety of ways…Handles in the open court…Can drive like a guard…Faces up and attacks in the post easily as well…Scored on the block…Impact player for her team

Kailyn Fields – 2024 – 5-0 – Point Guard/Guard – A.O.T. — Small in stature right now…Play-making ability is big…Three point range…Hits from deep coming off screens already…Quickness plays on both sides of the ball…Fun to watch

Chloey Graham – 2024 – 5-7 – Guard/Forward – Southern Indiana Pride – Strong ball handler and aggressive offensive player…Made plays on both sides…Versatile…Can score inside on the block as well…Eye catching player

A’Munique Holmes – 2023 – 5-7 – Guard – Oklahoma D1 Elite — Athletic and speedy slasher…Good defender…Lots of steals and takes charges…A problem for the opposition in transition with the ball…Confident at the line down the stretch of close games…On the right track

Kieara Hughes – 2024 – 5-3 – Point Guard – Team Takeover — Some “it” factor in how she plays…Smooth ball handler and passer…Three point range is there…Patient…Uses her pivot foot to deliver the ball to the right place under pressure…Makes plays defensively

Breona Hurd – 2024 – 5-10 – Forward/Post – Arkansas Mavericks Ludgood — Nice length and build as a young interior player…Serious double-double threat already…Runs floor with some speed…Scores on offensive rebounds…One or two dribble moves with some basic post work…Had some moments

Shaunie Little – 2025 – 5-7 – Guard – All Ohio Girls Basketball — Lanky, aggressive guard…Loose with the ball at times but handles are advanced for her age…Got to the line…Around the ball a lot…Lots of steals

Taliyah Parker – 2024 – 5-10 – Guard/Forward – BTR 2024 — Relentless and athletic…Lots of offensive boards…Impressive hesitation and explosion on the drive…Stroke is smooth at the line…Jumper should be a tool for her in turn

Paris Reed – 2024 – 5-6 – Guard – Cincy Thunder Neon — Strong built wing / guard…Element of power to her game…Good push in transition getting to the rim…Plays an older game than her age indicates…Shows noticeable speed without the ball

Sania Richardson – 2025 – 5-3 – Point Guard – BTR 2024 — Nasty handles, even in tight spaces…Already shooting the three…Challenging problem for defenders…Nice player

Angelina Smith – 2024 – 5-8 – Guard/Forward – Illinois X-Citement — Nice build and versatility…Handles with good pace…Can work on the block some as well…Double-double threat…Only going to improve

Caya Smith – 2024 – 6-0 – Forward – BTR 2024 — Athletic and long…Sprints the floor well most times…Soft hands…Developing package of basic post moves…Can bring it up herself…Demonstrated a mid-range pull up jumper…Active feet to get up and pressure/trap the ball defensively

Chloe Spreen – 2024 – 5-7 – Guard/Forward – Indiana Flight 2024 — Versatile and skilled…Can hit the three…Handles the ball…Sticking the three off the jab step while contested…Ability to guard the perimeter or the post…Does more of her damage on the perimeter…Still scores inside as well

Sydney Stinson – 2024 – 5-8 – Forward – Sevier Select — Long limbs…Effective driver from mid and high post…Can create separation with good handles in the open court…Versatile…Left handed…Double-double threat…12-15ft range is getting there…Nice player…Showed consistency

Travis Ponton first joined the Blue Star family in 2016, and brings with him a decade of women's basketball coaching experience across multiple levels. A 2018 WBCA Thirty Under 30 Award recipient, his most recent stint was on the bench as an Assistant Coach at LIU Brooklyn. He's also served on the staff at Loyola University, Charleston Southern, Southeastern Louisiana University, and Mount St. Mary's. As a successful high school coach for four years in Virginia, Ponton had a hand in helping over 30 athletes take their game to the college level. With a degree in Journalism from Radford University, he has also previously worked with WTVR/CBS 6 Television in Richmond. Ponton still calls central Virginia home.

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