Covering Prospective Student-Athletes in the SouthEast US and beyond
Jacksonville, FL – It’s always great when you can cover a talented event in a city you live in. I was able to spend time with my family and still see some great basketball the past 2 days.
I was definitely thankful that the event was local and a big plus, it was a Tuesday and Wednesday. Not often you get to see 11 games worth of great girls basketball action in the middle of the week.
About 20 college coaches showed up over the course of 2 days, plus Dan Olson of ESPN Hoopgurlz was in the house on Wednesday.
Since Kenny Kallina already put together an All-Tournament team we will cover our “Best of” the event.
Best Team to Play 2 Games –
Sandalwood – An easy pick as the only team to play 2 games and go 2-0. They also played arguably the toughest schedule facing a very good Nease team and Tampa Catholic, probably the best team in the Tampa Bay area. They are lead by 2 Sophomores, Amari Wright and Caitlin McGee, but Wright suffering from a stomach bug barely played on Wednesday and wasn’t a factor in the win over Tampa Catholic. 2019 guard Auriyah Stewart had a big weekend, hitting some key shots in the first half of both games. Guard Maria Torres also contributes to their swarming defense and up tempo offense.
Best Team to Play 1 Game –
Florida Prep – Definitely a much tougher call on this one, as Fleming Island beat a very good Nease team on a buzzer beater in their only game, but Florida Prep had a lot of fire power. Prep, coached by EJ Murray who is widely regarded as a great developer of young talent, has division 1 talent at every position. Lead by unsigned combo guard Kayla Shepperd, Prep has some big time middle schoolers to compliment her including the sharp shooting Emma Risch ’23 and ’22 guard Ashaunti Rolle. Add to that freshmen 6’2 Aleah Sorrentino who is one of the top 2021s in the state and 6’3 Khadijah Faye a raw but potentially big time post.
Best Team to go 0-2
Nease – Well only 2 teams went 0-2 so this wasn’t exactly a tough call, but we couldn’t write this article without mentioning Nease, a team with a minimum of 4 and possibly 6 division 1 players. Nease played a tough schedule, facing Sandalwood and Fleming Island, so while I’m sure they are deeply disappointed that they didn’t win either game, they played 2 GREAT games and were so close to winning both. They have the rare HS combination of a big time point guard in Kiya Turner and 2 legit post players in Peyton Carter and Camille Hobby. Once they find their stride they will be tough to beat. I expect to see them in Lakeland come State Championship time and these 2 losses will help them get there.
Top Games –
Another tough call, my top 4 games were –
Best Offensive Player –
Caitlin McGee – Sandalwood’s sophomore do everything player used her explosive athleticism to score 20+ points in both of Sandalwood’s big time wins. She dropped 23 on Nease on Tuesday night, many of which came in the 2nd half, against 2 future D-1 6’2/6’3 players. Then she came back Wednesday morning less than 12 hours later and dropped 23 again this time on Tampa Catholic and their big front line.
Best Defensive Player –
Alexus Bryant – The unsigned First Coast senior post player grabbed double digit defensive rebounds in both of the Buc’s games. The 6’4 center had numerous blocks and altered many more shots helping First Coast get a key Duval County win over rival Terry Parker and her defense was a big part of what kept First Coast close in the first half vs Florida Prep.
Best Shooter –
Emma Risch – The 2023, yes that’s right a 7th grader, dropped 5 3’s on First Coast in one quarter including a very impressive step back 3 that she knocked down in the defender’s face. Not sure any other player had 5 3’s all weekend and she hit those in 1 quarter. The future is very bright for this middle school athlete.
Best Individual Performances –
Lenise Santiago (’19 G Tampa Catholic) vs Bolles
Taniya Gordon (’19 G Tampa Catholic) vs Bolles
Shekinah Sanders (’20 G Bolles) vs Tampa Catholic
Fatima Samb (’20 F Bolles) vs Tampa Catholic
Alexus Bryant (’18 Post First Coast) vs Terry Parker
Moriah Steele (’19 G First Coast) vs Terry Parker
Shanell Taylor (’21 G First Coast) vs Terry Parker
Tanika McDonald (’18 G Terry Parker) vs First Coast
Tamia Riles (’18 G/F Rickards) vs Lakewood Ranch
Peyton Carter (’19 F Nease) vs Sandalwood
Camille Hobby (’19 Post Nease) vs Sandalwood
Kiya Turner (’19 G Nease) vs Sandalwood
Amari Wright (’20 G Sandalwood) vs Nease
Auriyah Stewart (’19 G Sandalwood) vs Nease
Caitlin McGee (’20 F Sandalwood) vs Nease
Ashley Sieper (’18 Post Tampa Catholic) vs Sandalwood
Taniya Gordon (’19 G Tampa Catholic) vs Sandalwood
Lenise Santiago (’19 G Tampa Catholic) vs Sandalwood
Auriyah Stewart (’19 G Sandalwood) vs Tampa Catholic
Caitlin McGee (’20 F Sandalwood) vs Tampa Catholic
Fatima Samb (’20 F Bolles) vs Paxon
India Searls (’18 F Lakewood Ranch) vs Terry Parker
Tot Mosley (’18 G Terry Parker) vs Lakewood Ranch
Tia Robinson (’19 G Fleming Island) vs Nease
Aubrey Burke (’19 G Fleming Island) vs Nease
Molly Ragle (’18 G Fleming Island) vs Nease
Kiya Turner (’19 G Nease) vs Fleming Island
Peyton Carter (’19 F Nease) vs Fleming Island
Camille Hobby (’19 Post Nease) vs Fleming Island
Emma Risch (’23 G FL Prep) vs First Coast
Kayla Shepperd (’18 G FL Prep) vs First Coast
Ashaunti Rolle (’22 G FL Prep) vs First Coast
Aleah Sorrentino (’21 F FL Prep) vs First Coast
Khadijah Faye (’21 Post FL Prep) vs First Coast
Moriah Steele (’19 G First Coast) vs FL Prep
Alexus Bryant (’18 Post First Coast) vs FL Prep