695HOOPS WHERE IT'S ALWAYS ALL ABOUT THE GIRLS
Friday, September 26 (2014)
I took the ride to Richmond, Virginia to check out what that part of the country had to offer in terms of girls basketball. The event was organized by Star Wills, the CEO of Cap City Ballerz, who also runs the U-Turn Sports Performance Academy. This was the perfect event to launch I64Hoops.com which will eventually have its own site under the 695Hoops umbrella.
I arrived about halfway through the initial warm up and skills portion of the event. The first thing that caught my eye was the intensity of the coaches during the work out. Coach Wills, Coach Wallace, Coach Felix, and Coach Robinson were just as active as the girls were during the drills as they demonstrated and cheered them on. Coach Luqman Jaaber kept a close watch on the sideline and made sure everything went smoothly while he evaluated players. Close to 50 players were broken up into teams for the skill session and they rotated between stations at four baskets.
The drills were challenging but the girls did a great job of following instructions and picking them up.
After the drills and instruction the players were split up into four teams. A nice crowd of college coaches had assembled in the gym by this time. I moved over to sit with some coaches to get their perspective while watching the games. Bryan Bagwell of Louisburg College, Diane Richardson of George Washington and Kate DeSorrento of Virginia Commonwealth were kind enough to let me pick their brains during the showcase games.
I got a chance to see some of the Richmond area's best talent and some top talent from nearby areas...
Taja Cole is a 5'8" point guard from the class of 2015. She is a phenomenal athlete and player. She has a serious handle and strong upper body that causes problems for defenders. In transition she is deadly. She has mastered the Larry Bird look away, behind the neck pass. I have seen highlights of her in action but this was my first time seeing her live. She is as good as advertised. She attends LC Bird in Richmond. She will be attending Louisville next year.
Another impressive 2015 is Tiffany Daniel. She is a legit 6'2" with some good post skills. She is the first player I noticed during the warm up drills. She has a good feel for the game and scores efficiently in the paint. She has committed to Campbell University. She goes to Maury High School in Norfolk.
Stephanie Watts is a 5'10" shooting guard from Weddington High in Wesley Chapel, North Carolina. The jumper is wet for real and she is a competitor. She is smooth coming off screens and does not need much room to get her shot off. She has good court vision and made some nice passes in fast break situations. She is a 2015 and will be playing at the University of North Carolina next year.
Chanette Hicks is another Maury High School 2015. At 5'6" she looks like she can play either guard spot, but was more comfortable with the ball. She is very aggressive and tenacious on defense and she is a good scorer. She is fast and has a healthy vertical so defenders had problems all day. She is committed to Virginia Tech.
Jesse Booker is a 5'8" shooting guard from West Point High in Wake, Virginia. Ms. Booker is a knock down shooter. She has a long range and lets it fly with confidence. She is a 2015 and has not committed yet.
Madison Baum is a 5'1" guard from LC Bird High in Richmond. She caught my eye towards the end of the showcase. I like her toughness and willingness to mix it up with bigger players. I will be looking at her again during the winter for further evaluation. She is in the class of 2017.
Some other names to look out for in the coming months...
Jalen Gathers, 5'7", shooting guard, Fairfield Middle School, 2019
Tierra Morris, 5'0", guard, Collegiate School, 2018
Jaelen Harris, 5'4", guard, Trinity Episcopal, 2018
Naterria Luster, John Marshall High School
Overall this was a very good event. The staff and organizers were very professional and welcoming. The most impressive thing was that every player I interacted with was polite and well mannered. I64Hoops.com will be back next year for sure.
Star Wills put together the All Ball U Showcase.
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