Chilling and thrilling
These six players bring composure, athleticisim, experience to USA's U17 roster
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- On Sunday, USA Basketball announced the 12 players who will compete on its FIBA U17 World Championship team this summer in the Netherlands. Here is an assessment of six of them.
Lindsay Allen, Mitchellville, Md.: Allen, a Notre Dame recruit, has the rare ability to be a calming influence. The 5-foot-6 point guard has mastered the ability to play in transition and set up in the halfcourt to get her team a quality look at the basket, but it is her ability to never get rattled that probably earned her a spot on the U17 world championship team roster. At some point during its trip overseas, this U17 team will face adversity. Things won't go according to plan, and the players will have to respond to a challenge. Having a calming influence at the point guard position is a step toward handling a challenge with the correct response.
Kaela Davis, Buford, Ga.: Davis, a 6-1 guard, was making her third trip to Colorado Springs, and she seemed comfortable from the get-go. As one of the more vocal and active players in the building, her presence stood out among the crowd. She also helped the players with less experience grasp the offensive concepts that the trial participants were expected to learn on the fly. While this wasn't the best offensive performance we have ever seen out of the former Tennessee verbal commitment, she found ways to make a positive impact on the game in a variety of other areas and, as a result, earned a coveted spot on the team.
Diamond DeShields, Norcross, Ga.: When you walk into the gym for a USA Basketball trial with multiple gold medals sitting in your room at home, there is a very clear comfort level in the process and the demands of what it takes to start the path toward earning another medal. By the third session, the 6-2 DeShields was in her element. Her athleticism and ability to make plays that others simply can't was at times jaw-dropping, and even when there are other elite players on the court, DeShields was able to take her game to another level. Going in, it was hard to envision a USA U17 team without her on the roster, but DeShields was able to leave no doubt about her worthiness for a roster spot with her play throughout trials.
Kai James, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.: The 6-4 post player made her mark and earned a roster spot by rebounding the basketball and being an active presence on the floor. James will fill an immediate need for the team, providing depth at the center position, and she should act as an anchor on the defensive end with her ability to eat space in the post. While the center position may have been one of the thinnest in terms of number of kids invited to the trials, James had a strong showing this past weekend and earned a spot on the roster with her play.
Taya Reimer, Indianapolis, Ind.: Last year, Reimer was the starting power forward for the USA U16 team. Her combination of athleticism and skill make her a difficult matchup, and Reimer continued to show why Notre Dame made her a priority with its 2013 recruiting class. At 6-3, Reimer showed the versatility to step out on the perimeter and shoot the ball at a consistent rate from 15 to 18 feet, but she still managed to be a dominant force around the basket with her rebounding and her back-to-the-basket scoring ability. Look for Reimer to be an instrumental part of this year's team. She is the most physical and polished interior scorer on the roster.
Mercedes Russell, Springfield Ore.: Early on in the trials, the 6-5 Russell showed well, especially in the one-on-one post drills where she was able to show off her superior size and skill. Russell has the ability to step out and shoot the ball on the perimeter and act as a face-up post player or score the basketball in the post. As she continues to develop and get stronger playing in the post, Russell will be able to use her physical tools more and more to exploit mismatches. Look for Russell, who was a starter last year on the U16 team, to be a focal point again this year.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @keilmoore.
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