skip navigation

LBI Event Recap: USA 16U Trials Part II (Colorado Springs, CO)

By Steve Reynolds @LBI_Steve, 05/26/19, 7:15AM EDT


Colorado Springs, CO: Today, Saturday, May 25, 2019, happens to be my 17th wedding anniversary.  This is back to back years I’ve spent this special day in Colorado Springs, CO at the 2019 USA Trials to see the future of women’s basketball compete for a spot on the team.  This year is no different than the last in that many deserving candidates will miss out on a chance to represent their country.  The U16 USA Trials committee has the unenviable task of choosing just 15 of 152 players with dreams of making a splash on the international scene, but the committee is doing just that as Saturday was the first day of cuts.  Here is the rundown of the scheduled.

Trials Session 2
Group 1 8-9:30 a.m.
Group 2 9:30-11 a.m.

>>> CUT FROM 152 TO 98 <<<

Trials Session 3
Group 1 1-2:30 p.m.
Group 2 2:30-4 p.m.

>>> CUT FROM 98 TO 68 <<<

Trials Session 4
Group 1 6-7 p.m.
Group 2 7-8 p.m.

As you can see, the grind is real, and the 68 that remain are just getting started because the competition is going to get stiffer, the fighters are going to start fighting, and the tough are going to get going. Here are five that impressed followed by my prediction of the 15 players that will be announced as a finalist on Monday, May 27th.

2023 Judea Watkins 6' SG Windward School Los Angeles, CA
We are all witnesses.  Judea Watkins is must see and in my opinion, the top 2023 prospect at USA Trials.  She’s the best 2023 prospect that I’ve seen in all my travels this year.  Watkins was another one of those players that struggled a bit early, but Watkins settled in and showed us the JuJu that many around the country have been raving about.  , I think JuJu just got her legs, and the confidence she displayed in her game was palpable.  She got to her pull up jumper in the lane effortlessly.  JuJu bullied her way to rack and was also able to get some offensive rebounds and put-backs.  She went left; she went right, JuJu was dynamite!

2021 Aaliyah Moore 6'3" PF Moore H.S. Moore, OK
Aaliyah Moore is mean! She has a take no prisoners attitude when she’s on the court.  I’m sure at least half of the U16 USA Trials field will be taking home bruises as souvenirs courtesy of the physical play of Aaliyah Moore.  She was phenomenal on Saturday as she played with a sense of urgency unmatched by her peers.  Moore rebounded on both ends of the court, ran the floor, and finished at an elite level. I have no problem saying that Aaliyah Moore proved to be the toughest girl on the court and toughness goes a long way in this game.

2022 Ysabella Fontleroy 6'1" SF Kickapoo H.S. Springfield, MO
Sometimes a player just has to get acclimated to there surroundings.  USA Trials can be stressful for young teenagers, and the adjustment to the altitude affects some more than others.  Ysabella Fontleroy looked a little sluggish on Day one and two but the good ones find a way and Fontleroy is a good one.  She got microwave hot from beyond the arc including a 28 foot shot that she shot effortlessly as the shot clock was running down.  Fontleroy attacked the rim hard and scored from all three levels.  She even threw in a few beautiful interior dimes for good measure.  Fontleroy determined she wasn’t going home, and there was no one on the court on Saturday that was going to stop her.

2021 Destiny Adams 6'3" SF Manchester Township H.S. Whiting, NJ
Destiny Adams is versatility personified.  She has so many layers to her game, and as time has gone on, she has peeled back the layers for all to see.  Adams scored on all three levels against multiple types of defenders.  Big ones, small ones, quick ones, slow ones, strong ones, fast ones, it just didn’t matter as Adams was able to create for herself and others at an elite level.  Destiny Adams is one of my favorite long shots as an applicant athlete to help lead the USA to gold.

2022 Lauren Betts 6'7" C Grandview H.S. Centennial, CO
I’m 6'7", so when I tell you Lauren Betts is all of 6'7", then, believe me, Lauren Betts is 6'7".  Betts has been quite the presence on the court.  She’s blocking and altering shots that girls around the world just wouldn’t have a chance to get.  Betts gets deep post position in the post and delivers.  She’s fundamentally sound as she catches high and keeps high on pick and rolls and offensive rebounds.  Betts has a good chance, and I believe the best opportunity to be a unique weapon for the US on the international scene for years to come.

My USA Trial Final 15

Kayla McPherson PG
Olivia Miles CG
Payton Verhulst SG
Janiah Barker PF
Lauren Betts C

DeDe Hagemann PG
Destiny Adams SF
Taylor Bigby SF
Aaliyah Moore PF
Amari DeBerry

Raven Johnson SG
Sonia Citron SG
Timea Gardiner PF
Sania Feagin PF