Following Meadowbrook High School’s (Chesterfield, VA) Saturday fall league games (9/14), I got right back on the road less than 24 hours later; this time making my commute up North. That orange ball seems to never stop bouncing, even in the preseason, and I had a Sunday showcase next up on my schedule that would allow me to scout some East Coast high school lady hoopers for the first time. Two Northern Virginia-based organizations, ‘Skills over Thrills Basketball Training’ and ‘Program Changers’ again collaborated to host their second annual ‘Super Select Showcase’; featuring 2020 and 2021 prospects from Virginia, Maryland, and South Carolina. Respective owners Ant Brown (Skills over Thrills) and Mark Gaither (Program Changers) established their event as invite-only and allowed the girls to compete for over 3.5 hours in front of several college coaches. It became a competitive environment relatively fast and a great chance for the young ladies to receive exposure before their junior/senior seasons begin.
Colleges in Attendance: Lincoln University, Washington Adventist, College of Southern Maryland, Wilmington University, West Virginia State, University of the District of Columbia, Shepherd, Georgian Court, Lebanon Valley College, Christopher Newport, Marymount, Eastern Mennonite, Salisbury, and Harcum College.
My Seven Standouts of Sunday
Saniya Dorsey ’20 – Frederick HS (Frederick, MD): It only felt right that the day’s ‘Most Outstanding Player’ honor was awarded to the 5’6” guard due to how she showed an ability to consistently create offense with the ball in her hands. Dorsey first started off well as a playmaker for others but then began to take over, scoring-wise, as the hours passed by. She has great pace to her game and can hit shots from anywhere on the floor. Off of the ball, I liked how hard the Maryland product ran the floor for other opportunities; usually scoring easily by simply taking up a lane in transition. Her off-hand could use some work, along with a slight improvement in shot selection, but there’s no denying her superior feel for the game. She made things happen just as naturally as anyone out there. Absolutely a name to see this winter season up in Frederick, MD.
Zoe Kanti ’20 – Stonewall Jackson HS (Manassas, VA): I really liked watching Kanti perform on the offensive end due to her high efficiency. Once her shot went up, it almost felt certain that it would swish through the net, regardless of the area on the court. As a 5’5” guard, she did really well pulling up for jumpers at different levels and never really required a screen for space. Kanti has some good separation tools and gives off an incredibly poised game; nobody ever sped her up to break her out of a controlled pace. Of course, spot-up shooters have value too, but a scorer like the Stonewall Jackson Raider who can put up points at a high clip off of the bounce makes one more lethal. Kanti should see her game progress to a higher level if she can transition into a true ‘combo guard.’ In all, the guard had a great day and holds offers from William Peace University, Bridgewater, and St. Agnus. Oh, and did I mention her 4.2 GPA?
Isabellah Middleton ’20 – Tuscarora HS (Leesburg, VA): The Northern Virginia native brought an incredibly aggressive approach to 5v5 play, something that stood out in her game right from the start. Middleton has a very reliable handle that allows her to cross her way past multiple defenders and get pieces of the paint. She knows how to change speeds frequently and often initiates the first bit of contact for a whistle blown in her favor. Early on, the 5’8” wing, who also brought the ball up quite often, drew the most fouls in the gym. It felt good to see Middleton not waste many dribbles after setting her defender up and attacking in a straight line; North to South, as I call it. Fusing both a necessary handle and physicality complements her slashing demeanor well. Shooting it a bit better from beyond the three-point line should continue to make advances.
Cameren Downs ’20 – Colonial Forge HS (Stafford, VA): It’s always fun to watch Downs step onto the floor because I know some nifty highlights are bound to happen. The 5’5” lead guard has some creativity in her game and seems to enjoy her role of facilitating to others. She has eyes in the back of her head to show off some sweet dimes and got into the lane constantly for drop-downs to her teammates near the rim. Downs undoubtedly performs best in transition, where she’s more than comfortable taking it coast to coast for attempted finishes. Along with her advanced style of playmaking, don’t feel surprised when the senior pulls off crafty layups by using either hand. She’s held a reputation as one of Stafford, VA’s most talented guards for recent years, has a 2017 Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 6 state championship on her resume, and scored her 1,000th point this past February.
Kylah Franklin ’20 – Bishop Ireton HS (Alexandria, VA): Another player who performed better as time went on, I became intrigued in how Franklin could produce both inside and out as a primary wing. Her 6’0” height and active presence often led to many touches for quick finishes and offensive pull-downs that became stick-backs. She did a nice job of moving without the ball around the half-court to lose her defender and become open. That simple skill (if even truly labeled as a ‘skill’) showed its benefits in how Franklin scored a good deal of baskets around the halfway point of Sunday. As far as her shot, it had a solid release and stretched out to distance; Franklin mainly seemed to like stepping out and spotting up in the corner. Playing active and making herself available worked greater than anything, however, and should continue as a main approach of the wing’s game.
Mackenzie Freeze ’20 – Spotswood HS (Penn Laird, VA): Upon my arrival, I heard some strong words of praise about Freeze in how she carries herself both on and off the court. Once the games tipped off, I couldn’t help but agree with those same statements. At 5’5,” she contains the intangible of running an offense like a pure point guard; making others better by using IQ and unselfishness. Conducting pick-and-roll scenarios worked effectively for Freeze, where she uses proper timing to wait upon acting. She has all of the natural traits one would ask of a veteran leader: vocal, competitive, and encouraging. Outside of creating for others, I also saw good shot-making from the guard at midrange and three-point areas. She may not be a ‘shot-first’ player but can definitely knock them down when the opportunity arrives. Wheaton College and Bridgewater have both offered. Similar to Kanti, Freeze also gets it done in the classroom; maintaining a 4.23 GPA, which stood at the highest mark out of all the other campers.
Josie Rodas ’20 – Colgan HS (Dumfries, VA): As I expected, the trey ball shooting threat showed up to knock down a handful of attempts from outside of the perimeter. Of course, Rodas was also on her home floor, so, I guess those in attendance could’ve assumed her comfort with Colgan’s rims. The 5’5” two-guard gets her shot off quickly and doesn’t hesitate in the slightest bit once open. Similar to a few other shooters I’ve come across, Rodas fits into my category of ‘microwave players,’ who can heat up quickly in stretches. The best example of this happened when she knocked down five triples in less than two minutes at one point. Teams cannot afford to give her much space unless they wish to be in for a long day. Even with her prowess in that particular skill, however, I’d still deem the Colgan Shark as pretty high-volume right now. She’ll need to work on making sure to distance herself away from being labeled as a ‘streaky shooter.’ Improving that, defense, and ball-handling will help her game become better, all-around.
Thank you again to Coach Brown and Coach Gaither for the excellent hospitality. The rest of my September should remain busy with open gym visits, Phenom Hoops camps, fall leagues, and other events!