Commentary

Ample talent at The Mecca Challenge

Updated: February 16, 2012, 12:52 PM ET
By Brandon Clay and Keil Moore | HoopGurlz

FlahertyGlenn Nelson/ESPN.comA sophomore at Manasquan (N.J.), Katelynn Flaherty has the ability to play varying styles of basketball due to her combination of athleticism, basketball IQ, and skill set.

BRONX, N.Y. -- The Mecca Challenge, held Feb 11-12 at the historic Gauchos Gym, featured some of the Northeast's top high school programs. It also showcased plenty of future household names in the women's game, including four 2012 McDonald's All-Americans.

2012 Checklist

Bria Holmes, Hillhouse (New Haven, Conn.): Holmes was selected to take part in the McDonald's All-American Game, which will take place in Chicago on March 28, and for good reason. She's the No. 28 prospect in the Class of 2012. And, at 6-foot-1, Holmes is a handful around the rim at both ends of the basketball floor. The West Virginia-bound forward is really showing progress in her offensive game and made shots from all over the court at The Meccas. With the Mountaineers slated to move to the Big 12 next season, Holmes will give them the size and athleticism to compete with the league's best on Day One.

[+] EnlargeSandra Udobi
Glenn Nelson/ESPN.comRanked No. 74 in the 2012 class, Sandra Udobi has a solid frame and a willingness to rebound and defend on the interior.

Sandra Udobi, Life Center (Columbus, N.J.): Udobi is an impressive physical specimen. She's a legit 6-2 post prospect who is willing to rebound and defend on the interior. Her frame recalls current Georgia junior post Jasmine Hassell. Udobi, the nation's No. 74 ranked player, is active in the paint and still appears to have plenty of upside. Fortunately for the St. John's coaching staff, she'll bring that skill set to Queens, N.Y., next fall.

2013 Checklist

Aliyah Cooley, South Shore (Brooklyn, N.Y.): Cooley is one of the premier spot shooters in the nation. She has a nice release off the catch and the confidence to let it go early and often. That skill alone has Top 100 schools salivating at the chance to land the No. 49 overall prospect in her class. The 6-foot Cooley has good size off the ball to go with a smooth on-floor demeanor. Adding a consistent pull-up jumper will only help the four-star guard earn a chance to play early in her college career.

2014 Checklist

Katelynn Flaherty, Manasaquan (Holmel, N.J.): In a head-to-head matchup with fellow 2014 prospect Bianca Cuevas, the 5-6 Flaherty showed that she could hold her own. Flaherty, a point guard, possesses quality quickness and savvy for the position. She is excellent with the ball in her hands and has the ability to play varying styles of basketball thanks to her combination of athleticism, basketball IQ and skill set. When the game slows down, Flaherty has the tools to run a team and get quality shots out of a halfcourt offense. If the game speeds up she can adapt just as well, as she has the ability to make plays in one-on-one situations and did a solid job finishing around the basket. As a college prospect Flaherty offers value as both a passer and shooter on the offensive end. That said, she also did a very good job guarding the ball and keeping people in front of her at the defensive end.

[+] EnlargeChastity Taylor
Glenn Nelson/ESPN.comA sophomore at St. Anthony's (South Huntington, N.Y.), Chastity Taylor showed talent at both ends of the floor and helped upset the then-No. 2 team in the country.

Chastity Taylor, St. Anthony (South Huntington, N.Y.): Taylor missed the opportunity to showcase her skill at last summer's USA trials after not accepting the invitation to attend. With a packed house and the nation's second-ranked team Riverdale Baptist in her home state, Taylor wouldn't miss the chance to let her game shine on center stage. The 5-9 wing was active on both ends of the floor, closing out the game with a huge steal in the last minute then making three of four free throws to seal the contest. After the signature win, St. Anthony's cracked this week's POWERADE FAB 50. The next goal for Taylor and the Friars is a state championship.

Sadie Edwards, Nazareth (New York, N.Y.): Last summer we had the opportunity to see Edwards play at the USA Basketball 16U trials. In a setting that featured some of the best players in the country in the 2013 and 2014 classes, Edwards missed out on the chance to leave her mark in Colorado Springs, Colo. Last weekend, in a different setting, we got to see more of what the sophomore guard has in her repertoire. Edwards, 5-10, is a smooth perimeter player with the ability to get to the rim off the bounce. When she was able to work in one-on-one situations from the wing she proved to be impossible to keep from getting dribble penetration. As defenses adjusted and started playing off of her, Edwards managed to knock down perimeter jumpers, which forced defenders to play her honest. In this evaluation, Edwards had the opportunity to show her full skill set and managed to take advantage of it.

2015 Checklist

Marina Mabrey, Manasquan (Holmel, N.J.): When your older sister, Michaela, is a McDonald's All-American, the bar for excelling in athletics is set awfully high for your bloodline. Marina Mabrey took another major step in reaching it with a signature performance against Nazareth, one of the best high school teams in the country. A 6-foot guard, Mabrey is a very good perimeter shooter with a solid feel for how to operate in the half court. She brings a lot of attitude to the defensive side of the floor and has the size and toughness to help the bigs battle for rebounds. The next major area of development in Mabrey's game will be to continue to develop her overall strength and become a better shot creator off the dribble.

[+] EnlargeBrianna Jones
Glenn Nelson/ESPN.comJust a freshman at North Babylon (N.Y.), Brianna Jones showed a nice shooting touch with the skill to shoot off the bounce.

Brianna Jones, North Babylon (N.Y.): Jones was a shining star on the first day of The Mecca. The 5-9 guard showed a nice shooting touch with the ability to shoot off the bounce, a skill eludes most younger players. We see her as a bigger off guard who can put the basketball in the basket. Continuing to focus on becoming a great defender will enhance that shooting prowess. She struggled a bit with early foul trouble, which limited her overall performance, but her talent was on full display while she was in the game.

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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 bclay@peachstatehoops.com or you can follow him on Twitter @peachstatehoops.

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 kmoore@peachstatehoops.com or you can follow him on Twitter @keilmoore.

Keil Moore | email

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