Commentary

Western All-Stars

Updated: February 8, 2012, 4:47 PM ET
By Glenn Nelson and Chris Hansen | HoopGurlz

Alexis JonesGlenn Nelson/ESPN.comThe No. 3 prospect in 2012, Duke-bound Alexis Jones of Irving, Texas, is part of a guard-heavy West team chosen by ESPN HoopGurlz.

With two major high school All-American teams being named during the coming week -- the McDonalds and Women's Baseketball Coaches Association teams -- Chris Hansen and Glenn Nelson of the ESPN HoopGurlz's Western half made 10 selections from their side of the Mississippi River.

The McDonald's All-American teams will be announced at 5 p.m. (EST) Thursday on ESPNU.

This game never will be played, of course, but both sides made their best case for you, the reader, to decide whom would come out on top. These are the selections and the case for the West.

West

(6) Jordan Adams (CA), 6-1 G
(21) Katie Collier (WA), 6-3 F
(11) Nirra Fields (CA), 5-9 G
(2) Moriah Jefferson (TX), 5-7 PG
(3) Alexis Jones (TX), PG/G
(14) Jordan Jones (TX), 5-6 PG
(4) Jewell Loyd (IL), 5-9 G
(10) Imani Stafford (CA), 6-7 P
(15) Morgan Tuck (IL), 6-2 F
(9) Courtney Williams (TX), 6-1 W

This is the Year of the Guard out West, so this team almost picked itself. Fortunately for us, the few inside players we were able to wedge onto this team all can motor. So we're going to go with a style that long has typified the wild, wild West: run and gun.

We've noticed the past few years that very few high school or club teams do a good job of entering the post. This deficiency is amplified in an all-star situation, where practice time is scarce. Our Eastern colleagues have some nice inside players to choose from, but we think they'll fall prey to lack of preparation, plus the tendency of guards dominating these kind of games because they naturally have the ball in their hands.

Our "bigs" are not going to be statues, by the way. We feel very comfortable having Katie Collier, Imani Stafford, and Morgan Tuck running rim to rim and getting them the ball in transition. With our great crew of ballhandlers and shooters, we'll keep them involved in halfcourt situations with screen-and-rolls.

The East is not going to just steamroll us, either. We have a premier swatter in 6-foot-7 Stafford to patrol the back of whatever extended defense we use. We can have length on the perimeter in 6-1 Jordan Adams and 6-1 Courtney Williams, as well as Jewell Loyd, who plays like she's 6-5. All those girls have pretty polished post-up games, and our bigs are great passers, so we plan to run some inverted, two-person stuff as well.

Moriah Jefferson and Jordan Jones played together for years for DFW, and Alexis Jones used to, so we'll use that club team's signature scramble pressure with those three, preventing the East guards from even getting close to passing lanes for Breanna Stewart and her inside mates.

In honor of the recently departed Don Cornelius, when we're not sprinting the East into the ground, we're also going to run our "Soul Train" offense -- get out the way and watch the likes of Jefferson, the two Joneses and scoring machine Nirra Fields bust their moves. In terms of advanced, individual shot-creating skills, this is one of the best classes to come around, and we've got the majority of the vanguard.

If we were the East, we'd choke up the lane to stop our penetration. Good luck with that, first of all. Secondly, our perimeter players are not one-dimensional and we'll start raining threes if the East plays off.

No way around it, they'll be bigger, truly the beasts from the East, so the overall key for the West will be preventing them from eating us up on the offensive glass. Our pressing and trapping will have us in odd rotations, so our guards in particular will have to focus on blockouts. For that reason, we won't zone much, if at all. And we'll rely on our bigger guards -- Adams, Loyd and Williams  to have big rebounding games for us. We think they're up to the task.

-- Glenn Nelson and Chris Hansen

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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. Hansen can be reached at chris.hansen@espn.com.

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 glenn@hoopgurlz.com.

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