ATL Summer Slam – 2016: Talent young and old!
By Bob Corwin
The eighth annual ATL Summer Slam, presented by Insider Exposure, saw 134 teams from across the USA compete in Marietta, Georgia (just north of Atlanta). The event, watched at various times by 232 college coaches (mostly division one) colleges, was held in two formats. On July 23-25, teams were placed in brackets (ranging from middle school to rising seniors in age) producing champions and for those who wished for just a game more (or just one game), pre-set exhibition contests were held on July 26. In the past, Summer Slam has been known to be an event where many young players began to develop a reputation on the national stage. This year was no different.
With bracket play, let us first take a brief look at the final of the top bracket for rising seniors and younger…
2017 Silver Bracket Final:
Michigan Storm – Love 58-50 FGB Courtney Williams
This was billed as a more talented FGB versus a more athletic Michigan Storm club. In the end, the outcome came down to the Storm playing more team-oriented ball while still being well above average athletically. FGB likely has more future Power 5 players but that is not now. On this date, the Storm was far more willing to share the ball in both the full and half court settings. The Storm let 29-20 at half and FGB could never get closer than three points in the second half. The Storm was led by Tyeshia Bowers (see below) with 18 points and Jordan Walker (see below) with 15 points. FGB was led by LaDazhia Williams (see below) with 17 points.
Below are performers of note seen at the event. There were many more but these stood out on one or more viewing occasions. Players below are listed alphabetically by graduation year with height, position and club team with home town in parenthesis as available.
Tyeshia Bowers, 5-5, shooting guard, Michigan Storm – Love (Flint, Michigan)
Orally committed to Chicago State, Bowers knocked down 5 threes to help defeat FGB Courtney Williams in the bracket title game. Defensively, she showed quick feet.
Kierra Crockett, 5-11, small forward, Michigan Storm – Love (Farmington Hills, Michigan)
A good athlete, Crockett showed an ability to score on the fast break. In the quarter court, she looked to attack the basket.
Jordan Walker, 5-6, guard, Michigan Storm – Love (Muskegon, Michigan)
Committed to Western Michigan, Walker showed good versatility in her ability to score hitting threes, mid-range jumpers and attacking the basket.
Alise Davis, 6-0, center, FGB Courtney Williams (Tampa, Florida)
The word in the gym was that over the course of the event, Davis was her team’s best player. She is strictly a low block center. A bit undersized, she uses a high motor and strong build to attack the rim and boards with passion. Davis has multiple division one offers on the table.
Ariana Whitfield, 5-6, guard, AD Elite – Peterson (Cypress, Texas)
AD Elite has several guards of Power 5 level. With her team only briefly at Summer Slam to warm up for Adidas Nationals, Whitfield shined in one viewing. She has a strong frame, solid handles and good open court vision. Several times she initiated the offense and then
moved to the wing to knock down three’s. A good athlete, she appeared to be an above average re-bounder for her size. Word in the gym was that she is deciding among a handful of Power 5 offers.
LaDazhia Williams, 6-3, power forward, FGB Courtney Williams (Bradenton, Florida)
Williams showed her full arsenal in the bracket final. Not known for it, she hit two threes on her way to posting a team high 17 points. Defensively she had multiple blocks. She is currently deciding among several high major offers.
Mahogany Vaught, 5-6, point guard, Team Slink Pink (Olive Branch, Mississippi)
A decent athlete, Vaught is a field general who looks to drive to score. She can hit the three if left open. She helped lead her team to the finals of its bracket. Division one schools are monitoring her progress.
Kelvajna Foster, 5-10, small forward, Lady Phoenix Elite (Kernersville, North Carolina)
Foster is an athletic lefty who likes to go left when it matters (goes right just to get out of trouble). Her smooth perimeter stroke adds greatly to her value. Her progress is being monitored by Power 5 programs.
Brittany Garner, 6-4, center, Philly Freedom Stars UA Elite (Merchantville, New Jersey)
Garner is one of the strong bodied players with good hands and size Power 5 programs yearn for. With game around the basket, she needs to watch her conditioning to continue to be able to run the floor successfully.
Daphane White, 6-4, center, MHSP 17u Williams (Ocean Springs, Mississippi)
White has the physical dimensions that Power 5 schools long for, namely great height, strong frame, good hands and decent touch in close. She runs the court adequately for her size. One of her best offensive moves to catch a high lob and lay the ball up. Defensively, she can block shots. She needs to add more sophistication on offense but as the saying goes “you can’t teach height”.
Amari Young, 5-10, forward, SC 76ers Black (North Augusta, South Carolina)
Young showed one of the best motors in the entire event. A lefty, she scores mostly in the lower paint. On defense, she is quick enough to guard a perimeter player. A sure mid-major recruit, her progress is being monitored by Power 5 programs who will be looking to see if she is building shooting range (a current deficiency).
Aijha Blackwell, 5-11, small forward, Team St. Louis Red (St. Louis, Missouri)
Blackwell is a physical wing. She can lead or finish the break. For a young player, she has a decent pull-up jumper but it still needs to get smoother in its motion. Able to outplay many older opponents, her progress is being monitored by Power 5 programs.
Yatria Coleman, 5-8, shooting guard, Memphis Lady Mambas 2019 (Memphis, Tennessee)
Coleman has a medium-solid build useful to attack the basket. When she started to hit multiple threes, observers really took note. At least a sure mid-level prospect, Coleman just needs to rev up the motor a bit to attract even higher level interest.
Teisha Hyman, 5-9, point guard, Westchester Hoopers 17u (White Plains, New York)
Hyman combines above average athleticism and handles with superior size for a “one”. Her ability to enter the ball to the post from different angles is like an art form. A Power 5 prospect regardless, she (like most point guards) needs to add shooting range.
Akunna Okwonko, 6-2, center, PSPA Rams 17u (Alexandria, Virginia)
Okwonko is another strong bodied post with good hands and game around the basket. A decent finisher in close, she needs to become more fluid in her scoring motion. BCS programs are monitoring progress.
Brit’Nee Terry. 5-11, forward, Team St. Louis White (St. Louis, Missouri)
Terry runs the court well in transition. Having a good motor, she rebounds well. In the quarter court, this lefty looks to attack the basket. Power 5 programs should be monitoring her progress.
Jakhyla Davis, 6-1, power forward, TN Fury – 8th (Knoxville, Tennessee)
Davis has a strong build as young players go. She can face up on the perimeter but she looks to drive as a first option. Division one schools should be monitoring her progress.
Treasure Thompson, 6-1, power forward, Bolingbrook Panthers 15u (Romeoville, Illinois)
Thompson loves to get out on the fast break often going coast to coast with the ball. A lefty, she looks to attack the rim in the quarter court. With a good motor, she rebounds and blocks shots well. Power 5 programs should be monitoring her progress. .
Ashlyn Watkins, 6-2, center, SC 76ers Prospects (Columbia, South Carolina)
At age 12, Watkins has a body that looks 19. Going into seventh grade, life is rarely easy for extremely tall girls faced with dealing with often cruel males of this age. Already a well known name in Deep South recruiting circles, we should not be too critical if she takes plays off or misses a shot. With good hands, decent feet and fairly strong build, Watkins has a very high ceiling but we must remember, she does not turn 13 until this fall!