Six stars step up on Day 1 of TOC
CHANDLER, Ariz. -- The ESPN HoopGurlz staff takes a look at some of the top performers on Monday, the opening day of competition at the Nike Tournament of Champions.
Jordin Canada, Windward (Los Angeles, Calif.): Against No. 8 MacArthur (Irving, Texas), this sophomore continued to show why she is considered one of the best pure point guards in the 2014 class. With her team trailing in the fourth quarter, Canada shifted into another gear and put together an impressive run that showcased her skills as a floor general. Not only did she score 11 of her 26 points in the final quarter, but she also helped shift the momentum by stealing the ball on an inbounds play and scoring a layup. During this crucial time in the game, Windward played with a great deal of focus feeding off her energy as she dished out a couple of nice assists. Canada was able to accomplish this while matched up against Duke-bound senior Alexis Jones. Their showdown at the end of the game was classic -- Canada was able to handle Jones' physicality, and after she hit the floor a few times she was able to step to the foul line and make her shots. Canada's international experience and overall maturity may have the Wildcats poised for another upset victory in the Joe Smith bracket.
LaJahna Drummer, St. Bernard (Playa Del Rey, Calif.): One of the bright spots in the Black Division was the play of this class of 2014 forward. While she was successful on the offensive side of the ball, finishing plays through contact and getting to the free throw line, much of Drummer's impact was felt on the offensive and defensive glass. At 6-foot-2, Drummer is an elite athlete who has bought into giving quality effort around the basket. Her overall activity level coupled with her physical gifts allowed her to grab almost every defensive rebound and ignite the fast break. Overall it was another quality performance from a prospect that has turned heads in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
-- Keil Moore
Sara Hattis, Cleveland (Rio Rancho, N.M.): When the 6-foot-4 post chose volleyball over basketball, many may have wondered if she envisioned having games like the one she had Monday against Livermore. Hattis' presence was felt at both ends of the court from start to finish. She set the defensive tone early by blocking several shots and altering countless others. She had six blocks and six rebounds after the first quarter with Cleveland leading 11-10. Hattis' continued dominance in the paint triggered a 14-4 run to help get some separation heading into the half. Two quick buckets by Hattis to start the third quarter, coupled with three consecutive blocked shots, ultimately sealed Livermore's fate. Hattis also played an integral role in breaking the Livermore full-court press by catching and making pinpoint passes to dissect the frantic pressure defense. Hattis finished with 11 points 18 rebounds and 13 blocks.
-- Prentice Beverly
Lisa Mifsud, Villa Maria Academy (Erie, Pa.): When a team runs the kind of sophisticated offensive and defensive schemes that Villa does, it needs a special kind of point guard. At a slight 5-7 and not blazingly fast, Mifsud, a Holy Cross signee, is easy to overlook. But she is the type of player who lures you into making mistakes, such as underestimating her, and making you pay. She handled the athletic defensive pressure from Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) with aplomb. She knows the Villa system so well and reads defenses equally as well that she consistently gets the ball where it needs to be. That includes her own hands. She scored 24 points against O'Dowd, 13 in the second half to stifle any rallies. Mifsud has reliable 3-point range and can shoot the ball quickly off the bounce. She uses great head and shoulder fakes on her crossover and change-of-speed dribble moves and is an artful penetrator, slipping into cracks, protecting the ball and finishing with great accuracy.
-- Glenn Nelson
Maddie Stock, St. Joseph's Academy (St. Louis, Mo.): Stock is a 6-1 combo guard who uses her size and length at both ends of the floor. She can handle the ball through traffic and is capable of creating her own shot off one or two dribbles past the defender. Her biggest strength is her movement without the ball, which creates enough space for her to catch and shoot, or read the defender for a pull-up. Stock's wingspan allows her to get steals from everywhere on the court, and she is very skilled at reading and timing as she shoots the gap. She is a scrappy defender who will dive on the floor for loose balls and pester smaller guards with her size on the top of the zone. Her 20-point performance against Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) willed her team into the quarterfinals of the John Anderson Division. St. Joseph's will need her leadership and good decision-making Tuesday against an athletic Edgewater team.
-- Rebecca Gray
Sydney Wiese, Pinnacle (Phoenix, Ariz.): The slightly built shooting guard looks for her shot early and often. Fortunately for her Pinnacle teammates, she was on the mark time after time Monday evening. Best known as a long-range gunner, Wiese dropped several bombs from beyond the 3-point line against Canyon Springs (Moreno Valley, Calif.) en route to 44 points on the night. Her barrage included 24 points in the second half as Pinnacle escaped with a 60-58 victory to advance to quarterfinal play in the Mike Desper Division on Tuesday. Wiese, a left-handed class of 2013 shooter, has been a constant name on the club circuit for her GSB Arizona team the past two years and proved in front of about 20 college coaches currently recruiting her that she is capable of putting a team on her back.
-- Brandon Clay
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Prentice Beverly is editor of BamaPrepGirls.com, a scouting website that covers Alabama. He is the author of Navigating the Maze Grassroots Reference Guide to Women's Basketball College Recruiting. He coached on the club circuit as well as the high school level for over 15 years.
Lisa Bodine is a national evaluator for ESPN HoopGurlz. A native of Queens, N.Y., she began her coaching career in 1993 with the NY Gazelles, has coached with D.C.-based Team Unique, and in 2009 she was named DAC Co-Coach of the Year after leading Wakefield Country Day School in Flint Hill, Va., to its first-ever conference title. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brandon Clay is a contributor and national recruiting analyst for ESPN HoopGurlz. He is also the publisher of the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report and the owner of Peach State Basketball, Inc. Clay has been involved in the community since 2001 as a recruiting analyst, event operator and trainer. He can be reached at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @peachstatehoops.
Rebecca Gray is an intern for ESPN HoopGurlz. She previously wrote a column for the website about her experiences as a freshman on basketball scholarship at the University of North Carolina. She transferred to and played at Kentucky and now plays basketball and golf at Union College. A 5-foot-10, sharp-shooting guard out of Georgetown, Ky., Gray was named Miss Basketball in the state of Kentucky after averaging 25.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.1 steals and 4.8 assists during her senior season at Scott County High School. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keil Moore is a contributor and national recruiting analyst for ESPN HoopGurlz. He is also the Director of Scouting for the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report - a division of Peach State Basketball, Inc. Moore has been involved in the community since 2007 as a recruiting analyst and trainer. He can be reached at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @keilmoore.
Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A graduate of Seattle University and Columbia University, he formerly coached girls' club basketball, was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of an online sports network, authored a basketball book for kids, has had his photography displayed at the Smithsonian Institute, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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