695HOOPS WHERE IT'S ALWAYS ALL ABOUT THE GIRLS
Sunday, August 9th
Shatyra Hawkes and Briana"Breezi" Hutchen teamed up again to bring the 2nd Annual U. S. E. Basketball Family Reunion to their alma mater, St. Frances Academy. United, Strong, Empowered is a movement to help female student athletes achieve their goals by using basketball as a vehicle. Both of these young ladies graduated from St. Frances in 2010 and went on to play division one basketball. Hawkes played at Xavier of Ohio while Hutchen began her career at Rutgers before transferring and finishing at Alabama. They are both still heavily involved in the game today.
The Family Reunion is a joint effort between U.S.E Basketball and 695Hoops that celebrates the girls game with a day long line up of girls basketball action. The day starts off with a panel discussion about various topics. We had another fantastic panel in 2015.
The two U.S.E. Basketball founders shared their experiences and gave some strong words of encouragement to kick things off. The bleachers were pretty full for 9:30am on a Sunday so a good amount of young players were able to hear there message loud and clear. Joining the founders on the panel were Lisa Bodine of Blue Star Media, fresh out of her Rites of Passage event the day before. Ms. Bodine is probably the top source for girls basketball in the DMV so parents really enjoyed her insights on a variety of topics including social media, basketball trainers and rankings.
Sam Walker of the Baltimore Charm also spoke on the panel. Coach Walker also runs a very successful recruiting service for Baltimore City athletes. His gave some great advice about the NCAA clearinghouse and also shared his experiences about playing big time college football. Also speaking to the gathering was former Elizabeth Seton standout Ty Marshall. Ty starred at Georgia Tech where she became the school's all time leading scorer and currently plays professionally in Romania. She also stuck around to play in the College Alumni game later in the day. Chris Burley, a Baltimore native who has coached at Western, St. Frances, Goucher College and Wilmington University among other places also shared some insightful stories about his journey and experience as a college coach.
Tink Butler of Next Sports Phenom and his daughter Tiara Butler provided the most emotional moments of the discussion. Tiara shared some of her experiences about working her way to a scholarship at Syracuse University. Her dad went on to talk about his current role in DMV basketball as the owner of a recruiting service that publishes rankings for local players. More importantly he talked candidly about some of the mistakes he made while guiding his two daughters to college. His younger daughter Tasia is currently at James Madison University. He spoke of pushing his daughters to their limits and maybe not taking enough time to just be dad. He even shared a touching story about how he once caused Tiara to miss her own birthday party because he had her working out. A couple of fathers in attendance shared with me how that touched them personally. I thought it was great discussion followed by questions from parents and players that set the tone for the day.
We had some basketball games too. We started the day off with the Baby Ballers game which featured rising 5th and 6th graders from the DMV. These were by far the most enthusiastic players of the day. Coaches for this game were Alexis Washington and TIna Simmons. They did a great job considering they had 13 players each who all wanted to play the whole game. You can watch the entire game using this link: Baby Ballers.
I was impressed with rising 6th grader Gabrielle Johnson who was added to the roster the day before the game. She plays with a lot of poise and is very skilled.
The Middle School Showdown was up next and was equally as entertaining. You can watch for yourself using this link Middle School Showdown.
Aniya Gourdine is a name that you will be hearing a lot in the future. She has all the tools to become a special player. Sanayah Gray, Madyson Hinton, Angel Reese, Destiny Ryles, Dasia Townes and Delicia Pinnick all had strong games as well.
The High School Showdown did not disappoint as the class of 2018 took on the class of 2017. The tone was set early on as Makayla Pippin (18) and Musha AlHassan (17) mixed it up in the paint early on. They will be teammates at Palloti this year but that did not keep them from going hard at each other.
The 2018 squad managed to build a double digit lead in the second half before a furious rally by 2017 team came up short. The final score was 53-47 with the youngsters squeaking it out. Jasmine Dickey, Jasmen Walton and Makayla Pippin were strong for the 18 squad while Mia Davis, Briana White and Aisha Sheppard were strong for 2017.
The final game of the day was the College Alumni game and it was great to see so many faces from the past on the court again. Shatyra and Briana laced them up and put on a pretty good show along with Ty Marshall, Asia Logan, Daisy Alaeze, Shaquila Curtis, Teanunasha Robinson and the rest of the alumni players. The game went down the to wire with the home team pulling out a close one.
A special thanks goes out to St. Frances Academy for hosting this year, to Under Armour for providing those nice uniforms, to the officials for donating their time and to the photographers for the nice work. We are looking forward to next year already.
Tiara Butler of Syracuse shows off her art work.
Brooke Fields(IND) of Roberts Wesleyan and Deja Mckenzie(Milford Mill) of Bloomfield College during the College Alumni game.
Parents and players enjoy the panel discussion.
Asia Logan of Digital Harbor and Ty Marshall of Elizabeth Seton after the College Alumini game. Asia plays professionally in Greece while Ty plays in Romania.
Mike Dukes and Tully Sullivan
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