AAU 15U Tip Sheet
West Chester, Ohio -- With pool play coming to a close Saturday there were many noteworthy performances at the AAU 15U Division I National Championships. After the opening day five players really stood out which we named to our Fab Five but there were plenty more youngsters making their case for not only a college scholarship offer but also a place in the ESPN HoopGurlz Hundred.
Class of 2010
Strength is so important in this game, especially at the college level. Maria Brown brings just that to forward position and because of it she is as effective as players several inches taller than she is. The 6-footer from Monroe, La., is a bulldog in the paint and she utilizes her strength on both ends of the floor and is a fantastic rebounder. If she continues to work on her offensive repertoire she could be in the mold of Ashley Walker (Cal). She showed fundamental footwork and a nice close-range turnaround jumper. Her physicality and athleticism make her a handful at this level.
Lauren Burford stands 6-foot-1 and is a versatile wing. Defensively she played down low and on the perimeter in man defenses and she did it well. She also worked her tail off at the high post in a 1-3-1 zone defense employed by her Fairfax Stars team. Offensively she can do a little of everything and the Fairfax, Va., wing is pretty good at many of those things. First and foremost she can stroke the three-ball. She has nice touch on her shot so even misses come off soft. She shares the ball, maintains spacing and works to get the ball into the post as well. When she's not on the floor her leadership is noticeably missing.
Kayla Cook of South Webster, W.V., really stepped up for the West Virginia Thunder with star post Whitney Bays in foul trouble most of the first half in their opening game. The 5-9 guard showed a nice stroke and a comfort level in the open court to make plays. When defenders jump a side she loves to go to her wrap-around behind the back dribble. Defensively she challenges her man and does a great job of making them do things faster than they'd like.
Chelsea Harris of Overland Park, Kan., put on a shooting display. The 5-7 guard shot the ball well from all ranges. She knocked down threes, hit mid range jumpers and was smooth from the free-throw line. The KC Shock's combo guard is one to keep an eye on. If she gets stronger to finish some three-point play opportunities she could develop into a really nice player.
Jeanne Kenney of Baton Rouge, La., gives the Domino's club team another dimension with her shooting ability. The 5-7 lefty is a smart player who makes strong passes, sees the floor, feeds the scorers and communicates with her teammates constantly. She made a consistent effort to find her team's top post player. Speed is her biggest limiting attribute but she is by no means slow on the court.
Big things, even in basketball, come in small packages. Ergo, Courtney Moses of Sweeter, Ind., perhaps a bit more diminutive than her listed 5-7, who helped the Indiana Legends shoot down the seeded Jacksonville (Fla.) Lady Rams on Friday. Moses is what you'd consider the prototypical point guard from Indiana - strong off the bounce, full of guile and sweet-shooting. She's also quick, and strong in the upper and lower body, both of which fuel the range on a picture-perfect jumper. Her strength and quickness also helped her get past speedy Lady Ram defenders, who virtually were face-guarding her after an explosive first half. You might even say Moses parted the Jacksonville defense as if it were the Red Sea.
Sometimes too much emphasis is put on height and what is ideal for certain positions, especially in the front court. For this reason Candice Silas of Richmond, Va., may be overlooked. The 6-foot forward has strength in her upper body as well as a strong base, anchored by strong calves. Offensively she attacked the basket with vigor and her aggressiveness and athleticism had her playing at least an inch or two taller than what she's listed at. She also stepped out and knocked down a three-pointer and showcased smooth shooting form throughout the game.
There aren't too many shooters out there these days, especially that can get the ball off quick enough against good defenses. Allie Turner is the exception to the this shooting void trend in the current game. The Springfield, Ohio, guard stands just 5-4 but even that couldn't stop her from getting her shot off and in doing so changing the complexion of an entire game. On Friday she exploded for 26 points including five three-point bombs. Most of the scoring came in a 20-point second half barrage where she hit four of her five triples. She knows when she's open and when she's feeling it. Because she moves well without the ball she found spots on the floor that spread the defense out giving her time to shoot on kick-outs and even showed she can shoot off the dribble when defenders relax or go underneath a ball screen. Turner was simply en fuego.
Charlotte's Lauren White has good size for a forward at 6-3 (she's officially listed at 6-3.5). She moves with fluidity and was smooth with her mid-range jumper from the high post. In the post she also showed some fundamental footwork and that is amplified by her length. When she pivots she covers a lot of ground. She takes her time and doesn't rush things either and showed some skill in setting counter moves up such as a step-through.
Hannah Wilkerson of Miller, Mo., did a little bit of everything for the Kansas Belles. Offensively what is most impressive is her ability to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line. What she lacks in elite speed she makes up for with smarts and effort. She moves well off the ball defensively and shows and exceptional knowledge of weakside principles. Offensively she sees the floor and the 5-7 guard makes strong solid passes.
Class of 2011
Dashira Buley stands just 5-4 but showed big things can come in small packages. The Knoxville, Tenn., native showed great quickness and ballhandling. The shifty handle of this slight yet elusive point guard was entertaining and effective. With all the changes of direction she still sees the floor well and creates for herself and her teammates.
It is rare to see a young players really take over games on this stage but that's exactly what Kathryn Reynolds Friday. With her Cincinnati Finest team trailing a super talented Memphis Elite team by double digits in the second half she sparked her team's explosive comeback. The Mt. Notre Dame star stands just 5-4 and despite being defended by players with more height and length she simply outplayed them by being in the right spots on the court and being ready to shoot. She nailed three catch-and-shoot three-pointers in the rally and when the defense stopped giving help from her side she popped another three when her defender went underneath a ball screen. She was one tipped shot away from shaking up the favored Memphis Elite's run for No. 1 in their pool. Reynolds, a Cincinnati native, is a fierce competitor that will take on any challenge with energy and confidence.
It was a definite treat watching Hillary Sigmon play with the Carolina Pacers. She came out blazing in one contest. The 6-foot wing knocked down two quick threes, set up a teammate with a nifty pass off of dribble penetration and hit a super tough pull-up jumper going left with a defender hanging all over her. Sigmon, of Taylorsville, N.C., has a great feel for the game and she reacts to game situations as well as anyone in the tournament. She showed comprehension of weakside defensive concepts and constantly scans the court on both sides of the ball. She has mastered spacing and angles offensively and makes things look easier than they are. She is a player you can run your offense through but do not have to run isolations for her to be effective. All this and she has three years left of high school basketball.
Left-handed players just aren't that common. In baseball the coveted left hand reliever is vital to any rotation and in some ways the change in delivery for left handed basketball players throws the opposition of similarly. Torrie Thornton of Carmel, Ind., is a 6-1 lefty forward that shined for the North Side Indy Magic. She is long and agile and showed good instincts defensively by anticipating passes and closing off the passing lanes. Thornton has good quickness and at the big forward spot she is more of a face-up player than a bruising back to the basket player.
Glenn Nelson contributed to this report.
Chris Hansen covers girls' high school basketball nationally for ESPN.com and leads the panel that ranks and evaluates players for the network. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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