Minneapolis, MA – Any scout or recruiter worth their money or their reports will tell you that 10-12 hour days are considered normal at tournaments of this size. What helps to make the time go by fast is the caliber of play during each game and the amount of energy and talent attached to each player. There were no disappointments this weekend. My eleven hours on Saturday and nine hours on Sunday well worth it! There were a few familiar faces and names, but tons of new ones that left a lasting impression, to say the least. Congratulations to all the teams that won first place in their division!
Locked and Loaded…
Teams that rosters are filled with high powered players in multiple positions
Let It Rain 2023 Black
At first sight, I have to be honest, when this squad took the court, my first thoughts were, “How cute!” Gorgeous smiles, cute laughs, and friendly high fives are the things that instantly stood out to me. However, once the ball was tossed in the air, those thoughts quickly were turned into, “Wow! They’re good!” This young squad understands a crucial component that comes with being an elite athlete; when the whistle blows, it’s all about business! Those cute smiles and laughter were transformed to screams of “pick on your left,” “Watch the corner!” and any other basketball phrase you can think of. Collectively this team has multiple players that have a very special skill set that helps this team move in perfect harmony. There are three players in particular that feed the teams’ battery pack and the level of confidence in which they all play; Makenzie Drout (2023, 5’8”, PG), Antonique Auston (2023, 5’8”, SF) and Avree Antony (2023, 5’8”, SG). This triple dose of talent was outstanding in every game. Drout has an arsenal of crafty moves and the IQ to know just when to use them. Whenever her team went on a scoring drought or just needed a kick-start, she made her way to the hoop somehow, someway, and never let them down. Auston is not afraid of anything. Whether she was bullying her way to the rim or standing firm on defense, forcing a bad shot, her presence was felt. She has a quick first step that catches you off guard, and once she’s going, there is no stopping her. Antony is the glue of the team. She does it all. She is a phenomenal defender and can score in multiple ways, something you don’t see often. She is a floor leader, extremely vocal, and also her teams’ biggest cheerleader. When she is on the bench, she is still in the game. As if that wasn’t enough… All three girls (and a few others) can shoot! If you see this teams’ name on a tournament list, take advantage of it and go watch them play. You won’t be disappointed.
FBC BounceNation 2020-Jay UAA
Whenever a team can hurt you in multiple positions, it becomes a match-up nightmare. Just ask any team that faced off against this fast-paced and high powered FBC team. The “thing” that allows them to play at the level they do is their ability to truly play as a unit. Everyone clearly understands their roles and responsibilities. No one is above being corrected or given a reminder of what they are supposed to be doing. They depend on each other. Anaya Boyd (2020, 6’0”, PG) is a phenomenal athlete. She has an incredible game IQ and knows how to make all the right moves to create space for herself to score, including an inside out- crossover- step back three that caused everyone who was watching mouths to drop and caused a few to clutch their invisible pearls. She does a good of advancing the ball in transition, and she can get up! Genesis Bryant (2020, 5’7”, PG) has great stamina. She plays extremely hard, especially on the defensive end, and she knows when she needs to score or get her teammates involved. She is quick and great defender. Sallie Schultz (2020, 6’1”, SF) is a shooter. Whether it was a mid-range, short jumper, or a long distant three, she made it look easy. She is able to hit big shots in clutch situations. This team also has some strong rebounders and scrappy players that don’t mind getting down and dirty when necessary.
WI Flight Elite 11 UAA
Watching this WI Flight Elite squad was like watching all the gears move on a big machine or an old fashion watch. They play great defense, shifting quickly, filling the lanes, and picking pockets. There are multiple players that are offensive threats in more ways than one. They know how to feed the hot hand, moving the ball well, and setting wall type screens. They never get tired. All weekend, game after game, their energy level was consistent. Alexis Donarski (2020, 5’10”, CG) was amazing. She can do it all. She is strong and does not mind taking a little contact getting to the basket or battling in the paint for rebounds. She can handle the rock in traffic and knows how to finish. Caroline Strande (2020, 5’11”, CG) is also an all-around great player. She hustles! Never taking a possession off. She has an arsenal of moves to create shots for herself or a teammate cutting to the hoop. Her on the ball defense was some of the best I saw all weekend. Aaliyah Smith (2022, 5’6”, PG) is one of the youngest players on the team; however, she has one of the biggest hearts. She had no problem stepping up to defend the best player on the opposite team. She gets to the rim! Not only does she get there, but she consistently finished with lots of contact. Lastly, the way this team crashes the boards for rebounds on both ends was impressive. In every game that I saw, they dominated in that area.
MN Fury 2020 UAA
I am and will always be a fan of players that work hard. No matter if they are up by twenty or down by 1, their level of hustle does not waiver. That is how the MN Fury played all weekend. They want to win! You see it in their body language. You see it has they literally dive on the court to snatch a loose ball, and you see it has they encourage and cheer each other on. In addition to working hard, this squad does an excellent job of communicating. They talk a lot and loudly, especially on defense; which proved to be a frustrating distraction for their opponents. Alyssa Ustby (2020, 6’1”, SG) was a showstopper that could not be denied. She has the skill set and scoring ability to play the two and three position. She gets inside at will but never forced anything. Alyssa was not shy at all. Defensively, she got right in her opponents face and made them earn everything. Lauren Frost (2020, 5’8”, PG) and Molly Mogensen (2020, 5’7”, PG) were top notch floor generals. Lauren made great decisions with the ball, including driving inside and forcing the defense to foul. Molly has impressive court vision accompanied by crisp passing abilities. She too can score, getting to the rim and also shooting from the perimeter. Ysareia Chevere (2020, 5’11”, PF) definitely gets the ultimate hustler award from me. She plays with an incredible energy level and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. She plays aggressive on both ends of the court, not hesitating to hit the floor for a loose ball or take some contact driving to the basket. Several players can shoot the ball well from behind the arc off the bounce or with their feet set. This Fury team was exciting to watch.
Young in Age…Mature in Game
Underclassmen players that caught a lot of eyes
Sunaja (NuNu) Agara 2023 5’11” SF MN Metro Stars 2020-Starks
A-MAZ-ING! She is so young, but one would never know by watching NuNu play, especially considering she is playing three grades up. Her athleticism is rare for her age. She shoots with confidence, knocking down deep three’s and twelve footers with a hand in her face. She can read the defense well and knows how to attack the lane and draw defenders. She moves well without the ball and can also create shots for herself and her teammates.
Kamryn Wadsworth 2023 SF SD Attack 2023
A tough player with a lot of heart, Kamryn works hard. She rebounds and gets easy putback layups, but she also drives to the basket and finishes with contact often. She can handle the ball and finish in transition and is a tough and scrappy defender.
Abbie Dix 2023 5’10” SF Let in Rain 2023-Black
Although Abbie is a wing player, she did a great job of taking advantage of her size, posting up smaller players, showcasing her footwork on the block. On several occasions she finished strong at the rim, earning the old fashion three. She rebounds and is not afraid to shoot.
Bella Swedlund 2022 5’9” SG SD Attack 2022
Bella is a competitor. She never stopped fighting and actually played harder in the final minutes of the game, which is when a lot of players ease up. She is a shooter. She does a superb job on defense, reading lanes and anticipating ball movement. Bella is also a solid rebounder. She does not mind battling in the paint against bigger players.
Allie Ziebel 2024 5’10” PG WI Flight Elite 8th UAA
Allie is a scorer. She is really good and catching the defense standing flat or at a bad angle and attacking. She literally lived in the paint, at the rim, and on the free throw line. She already knows how to see and shoot over her opponents and how to use her long arms to keep the ball high and finish strong.
Taylor McCabe 2022 5’9” SG Team Factory 2022
A shooter that also plays great defense, Taylor was the “it” factor in a few games for her team. She can shoot from all over the court and does a great job of creating space to get her shot off. She has a lot of confidence, which made anyone watching have confidence in her as well. She is a floor leader, doing a great job of communicating on the court.
Geriah Bradley 2023 5’7” PG Peninsula Elite Gold
Geriah plays with so much energy and intensity it is undeniable. She hustles and works extremely hard. She has a nice mid-range game and will not hesitate to let it fly. Her defense is strong, and she does a great job on the ball.
Kamryn Wadsworth 2023 5’10” SF SD Attack 2023
A tough player with a lot of heart, Kamryn works hard. She rebounds and gets easy putback layups, but she also drives to the basket and finishes with contact often. She can handle the ball and finish in transition and is a fierce scrappy defender.
Raven Thompson 2022 5’10” SF FBC BounceNation 2021-Jay
Raven is a strong and athletic player that bullied her way to the rim, not being stopped or slowed down by contact. She snatches down rebounds and knows how to clear out her area. Raven can handle the ball in traffic, making good decisions along the way. On defense, she was quick enough to defend smaller guards and strong enough to defend in the paint.