COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The first cuts for the U19 World Championship roster have been made and the one common theme that seemed to prevail throughout the 5 sessions in Colorado is size matters.
Eleven of the 15 finalists set to participate in the U19 training camp in Orlando, Fla., are at least 6 feet or taller, with four of the 11 taller than 6-2. Topping the charts in terms of height are a pair of center prospects with previous USA basketball experience -- Imani Stafford who at 6-7 earned a gold medal with the U17 team last summer and Stefanie Dolson who at 6-5 earned a gold medal with the U18 team last summer.
Adding to the depth at the center position while also providing the versatility to play the four is Elizabeth Williams and Breanna Stewart. Both of whom have had the opportunity to compete multiple time internationally as they were teammates for both U17 and U16 in the summers of 2010 and 2009 respectively. In addition, true power forwards, Cierra Burdick, Benijah Laney, and Morgan Tuck all have the versatility to contribute at the wing position but the size to play on the inside if needed.
One of the more impressive things about this year's U19 team roster is its depth of talented guards with size of their own. Jordan Adams, Diamond DeShields, and Kalena Mosqueda-Lewis all will be asked to provide the U19 team with quality guard play and all stand at least 6-0. At 6-1 Adams, is considered by many to be as good as anyone in her class at the point guard spot, even though she has the size and ability to be a very capable scoring wing.
The overall size of this year's U19 group will play out the most on the defensive side of the ball. It was clear throughout the trials that with that kind of length and athleticism in the paint, nothing around the basket was going to be easy. With the shot-blocking prowess in addition to the length on the perimeter, this U19 group could be quite the defensive force.
Another major area of notice was the difference in size and strength between the college players and the high-school kids. While for the most part the high school players were able to adjust throughout the sessions, they were at times beat up and exposed by there older counter parts. While the difference between a high school junior/ senior and a college freshman may just be a year or two, the difference in size and strength can at times be overwhelming.
Two Who Impressed
Bashaara Graves: Her ability to rebound the basketball makes her a valuable prospect in almost any setting. She is a high-level athlete and a willing defender who plays with a consistently running motor. At times she was asked to guard bigger post players and then in the next situation move out on the perimeter and stay in front of some of the country's best small forwards. Her athleticism and willingness to defend provides her with the ability to do both well.
Diamond DeShields: As the youngest player at the trials DeShields had moments where she was also one of the most impressive in the trials. Elite athleticism affords her the ability to make up for small errors with cat-like reactions on the defensive side of the ball. Her experience with the U19 team last summer gave her the confidence to compete from start to finish with the nations elite. She has all of the tools to develop into one of our generation's special players.
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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 email@example.com.