By James ParkerOn-The-Trail
To play or not to play, that is the question. The fall can be a tricky period for evaluators, players and coaches. Great players are well into their fall conditioning, strength training, haven’t played a lot of basketball with or even without their club team in over 60 days. Team chemistry is sometimes affected by the different personnel on the teams. Club practice time can be limited because of these new additions, high school open gyms getting started and club tryouts. Some players are almost on a complete break from the sport because of playing other sports or just getting the R&R before high school season gets on the way. Some seniors play, some do not. But, given the evaluation period in the fall, where there are tournaments coaches and scouts will scour, players will come to play to impress. Even though one might not see the kids at their peak performance, many things can still be taken away from the fall events, like a kid’s maturity, leadership, toughness, work-ethic and some new skills developing. So, to play or not to play, is still the question.
This years USJN Oktoberfest took place at the American Sports Center Anaheim, CA. Oct.7-9.
All Tournament Selection
Dominique Williams 5’8” PG (AZ2013)~ Though Dom can struggle at times putting the ball in the basket, create for herself or teammates, no other point guard ran their team more flawless. Starting in transition no PG in the American Sports Center got the ball on the move and into the front court off the pass faster and better than the Warrior guard. Dominique’s unselfish play is the catalyst to the unselfish play and passing game of the Warriors whether in transition or ball reversals. Anyone who has had the pleasure of watching the Warriors knows and understands how that unselfish play and passing game is the heart and soul of the team. Her physical defense and ball pressure is second to none and like her ball movement in the AZ Warriors offense, her defense is the precept to the Warrior defense.
Ariel Bostick 5’3” PG (AZ2013)~ Like a magician Bostick, the bay area kid, always seems to have a bag of tricks. She always keeps defenders back on their heels with her ball skills. She can pull from well beyond the arc. Defend her too close and she will get in the paint where she is deadliest. She sees the smallest of openings in passing lanes and delivers passes off the dribble seamlessly. This weekend I saw Ariel take the ball off the dribble and deliver on target a one handed pass through three defenders to a cutting teammate across court from just beyond half court, jaw-dropping.
Courtney Ekmark 6’ SG (AZ2014)~ Can be as consistent a shooter as they come. One is always waiting for the game where the shots are just not going to fall for her, but she displays continually that teams can’t leave her side. She is deadly from outside and you have been warned, hand down/man down!
Karlie Samuelson 6’ SG (CA2013)~ A point guard’s best friend. If Joe Montana is your point guard, Karlie is Jerry Rice. She spreads the floor, allows for some play making and knows what to do with and without the ball. Karlie is a very coachable young lady with great demeanor. She can shoot it from outside with the best of them; put it on the floor for the take and finish. She can help bring the ball up the court, displays strong skills at the 1 and 2 positions.
Katie Samuelson 6’2 SG (CA2015)~ Like Bonnie and Karlie, Katie is of that same shooting pedigree. We all have the feeling Katie is going to be something special to watch in years to come. Having yet to play a high school game, Katie is well on her way to shooting the ball as good as her older sisters and seems to possess more fluidity and athleticism at 6’2 on the wings than her predecessors. She is a franchise player and right now programs should be preparing a spot for her.
Keitra Wallace 5’11 SF/G (CA2012)~ Was all business this weekend. A recent commit to Pepperdine, one would think she was still on the board with how hard she played. No player played with as much determination and sense of urgency as Keitra. Definitely not a finesse player Kietra was definitive when driving to the cup, plays with emotion and passion.
Nyasha Lesure 6’ SF/W (NV2012)~ A recent commit to Nevada Nyasha is an athletic, long, 6’ wing or small forward. She really cleans up on the boards, has great bounce and length. Nyasha is speedy for 6’, navigates through traffic in control and has the jump to finish high at the basket, a great rebounder, cutter/slasher defensive specialist.
Bayli Mcclard 6’ SF/W (CA2013)~ A 6’ small forward/wing that can knock down the three, owns the mid-range can create mis-matches and defend multiple positions. Mcclard has a great feel for the game and when her team struggled would consistently infuse energy with her play and ability to step up and knock down big shots.
Chantel Osahor 6’3 C (AZ2013)~ One of the most fun to watch players on the circuit, with the absence of Shilpa Tumalla (Harvard commit) & Cortnee Walton (Louisville), Chantel made the most obvious difference in games with her play making ability from the center position. She can and will, without hesitation now pull the outside three with her funky set shot. Because she plays with such poise she always surprises with quick definitive moves and is deceptively quick as bigger player, whether she spins on a defender on the block, jab steps you off and pulls back for the three or throws a behind the back pass. She is nifty, unassuming, therefore deceptive and creative in her ability to create from inside or out. I believe led her team in assists from the 5 position in their state championship game.
Cheyenne Greenhouse 5’10” G (CA2014)~ Is stepping up where Teara Laudermill (Nebraska) left off for her high school and club team Canyon Spring Cougars. Great size at 5’10” and long at the PG position. She possesses a smooth between the legs crossover that allows her separation from her defender. She has great handles. She can pull up off the dribble and rise over defenders for the jump shot, has great athleticism. Decision making is going to be key for her success.
Mariya Moore 6’ G/W (CA2014)~ Get’s it done. She plays with a reckless abandon, maybe too reckless sometimes but she finds a way, whether pretty or not, to get it done. Mariya creates a lot of mis-matches because at 6’, rugged and big, she can bring the ball up, attack off the dribble, post inside and shoot outside. She plays like a true competitor and like she truly loves playing the game. She doesn’t back down from anyone. Matter of fact her newly formed club team NorCal Future Elite came into the tournament facing the AZ Warriors (ESPN #11 Best of Summer, arguably higher, they beat #1, #8, #10 in front of them) first game, her play along with the quick play of her sister Minyon upset the AZ Warriors. WOW! They have only one upper classman in the bunch. Watch this group.
Michelle Miller 5’10 G (CA2012)~ Showed the most maturity in her game from the last time I saw her. Cal Storm Taurasi without many of the other senior players, Miller stepped up and filled shoes. She really let her game loose and without the other big names in front of her, she shined.