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|Budding guard prospects Tyler Scaife (left) and Recee' Caldwell (right) know how to carry their teams with scoring.|
CYPRESS, Texas -- With last year being such a great coming out party for two talented guards in Arkansas and Texas -- Tyler Scaife and Recee' Caldwell -- we used the 13th Annual Cy-Fair Invitational as an opportunity to look at the games both more closely to see how they are developing.
Scaife, the 5-foot-8 native of Little Rock, Ark., and a 2013 class watch list prospect, is playing the club season with the Cy-Fair/Westside Elite program, coached by Ray Mickens. Caldwell, the 5-8 prospect from the 2014 class and a San Antonio, Texas, product plays for San Antonio's Finest, coached by her father Ray Caldwell. Both have had glowing reviews from last season, and for good reason. But no player "arrives" in this sport, especially as an eighth- or ninth-grader.
The two actually got a chance to play against each other in the showcase division of the event, showing two contrasting styles while both logging considerable minutes at the point guard position.
Scaife is one of the quickest players in the class. She accelerates to full speed as well as anyone in the class, and once there she can change direction at speed, making her really difficult to defend in transition.
|Recee' Caldwell (24) and Tyler Scaife (23) didn't give each other much space to get open, and for good reason.|
Offensively she uses her quickness and tight handle to get past the first level, and she continued to show that she can stop and pop before reaching the help-side defense. Her shot is improving from 3-point range, too. What seemed more prominent in her game this weekend was a desire to get deeper in the paint and finish in traffic. She finished on a handful of acrobatic, double-clutch shots that certainly passed the degree-of-difficulty test.
The next evolution for Scaife is on the defensive end. There are some things on offense that will continue to improve with time and experience, such as decision-making and running a team, but the defensive end is where she can start to separate herself from the pack. She has length, quickness and, as her offensive game proves, she's not afraid of contact. In spots she utilizes that on defense, but all the tools are there for Scaife to be a lock-down defender. She can move her feet laterally, tip passes, jump passing lanes and body up cutters. If she makes the choice to do all those things, she has the physical gifts to be one of the better defenders in her class.
Caldwell isn't blessed with the same athleticism as Scaife, but she gets the job done. She has tremendous range, and hearing her father shouting instructions to "use the G.P., use the Gary Payton," a move named after former NBA player Gary Payton that involves turning your body perpendicular to the defender and using your body to advance up the court while protecting the ball, it's obvious she's learned to neutralize defenders quicker than she is.
The range on Caldwell's shot continues to be impressive and she's worked hard on her breakdown moves to create shots off the dribble. That skill is crucial because she will get made as a shooter early in every game. That leads to defenders denying her and closing out much sooner than most of her teammates. It is clear that creating offense has been a point of emphasis as she is constantly on the attack with the ball.
Because she is running the point guard position, she has to deal with a lot of full-court pressure and trapping and needs to learn to use her body more effectively when changing directions. The G.P. move will work at times but turning your body invites the blind-side trap. If she is OK with the contact in that regard, getting her crossover to be less east-west and more north-south would be a great. She is shifty with her handle and creates plenty of space to cross over, so getting her inside shoulder into the defender's outside hip when she comes out of her dribble move, initiating that contact, would really serve her game well.
Both have to continue to learn the point guard position if they want to continue to play it on the next level. While both are notable talents individually, there are stretches in games where their teammates end up watching them on offense. Keeping those players involved and keeping the team moving so the defense can't remain set will be important for each.
Stay tuned on both of these up-and-coming guards. Their talent, confidence and skill level at a young age are impressive.
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Chris Hansen is the national director of prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz and covers girls' basketball and women's college basketball prospects nationally for ESPN.com. A graduate of the University of Washington with a communications degree, he has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a high school and club coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. He is a member of the McDonald's All-American team selection committee. Hansen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.