Art Turner Memorial 2016 (part 2): Lot of talent but Espinoza-Hunter shines brightest.
By Bob Corwin
In part 2, players from schools other than Centennial and Paul VI (both covered in part 1) will be featured. First, let us take a quick look at the WCAC (the conference of host school Paul VI).
Winning in the WCAC is NO easy trick
Most people who follow prep sports around the USA have no idea how strong the WCAC (Washington Catholic Athletic Conference) is in the sport of girls’ basketball. While I was told several teams of the ten members are weak, the five (Paul VI, St. John’s, Good Counsel, Elizabeth Seton and Bishop McNamara) evaluated at the Art Turner Memorial had at least five future NCAA Division I players of some level per roster. The average high school around the USA is lucky to have one on its roster every 10 years.
The critics of picking a WCAC school as the best in the country point to the fact that 18 of the regular season games are with the other nine WCAC members and again the post-season tournament involves only the same schools. Granted, some years, the league is only three or four deep in strong teams but in other years, multiple Division I (say just two) prospects might be found on more than one of the teams in the bottom half of the conference. Critics say these strong schools recruit talent. So do schools public and private in many states! And when we say recruit, often this is nothing illegal as strong programs tend to be a magnet for the next wave of players in an area.
To conclude, for Paul VI High School (current #1 in the USA by several polls), winning each of the eight WCAC regular season games against the other four teams in the conference top five is similar to triumphing in a latter round of many state playoffs, perhaps harder than most where the opposition has just one to three future Division I players!
Looking at some of the top performers in the Art Turner Memorial Tip Off…
Players below are listed alphabetically with height, position, graduation year and high school. School location is in parenthesis.
Rachel Balzer, 5-10, shooting guard, 2019, Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania)
While her very young team did not win either game in Fairfax, Balzer showed why she is getting Division I offers. She runs well with decent size, plays smart and has a nice stroke to beyond the arc.
Jakia Brown-Turner, 6-0, power forward, 2019, Bishop McNamara High School (Forestville, Maryland)
A lefty, Brown-Turner is just active in the paint on her bad days and somewhat dominant on good ones. She can score all over the key facing up off the pass or pulling up off the bounce. In her team’s 68-54 win over Christ the King (NY), she nailed three triples (19 points total) showing increased range from last viewed during club ball. Power 5 colleges should be monitoring her progress.
Nia Clouden, 5-9, point guard, 2018, St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Maryland)
Clouden is a point guard who can create a shot as she pleases. When she so desires, she can go into drive and dish or feed the post mode. She posted 15 points and at least a handful of assists in her team’s 64-61 win over Sanford School. A sure Power 5 prospect, the right fit will be important to maximize success.
Mia Davis, 6-0, center/power forward, 2017, St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Maryland)
Davis is a bit undersized low post operator finishing well around the rim. The Temple signee posted 25 points hitting 12 of 14 foul shots in her one outing in Fairfax.
Andra Espinoza-Hunter, 6-0, small forward, 2017, Ossining High School (Ossining, New York)
Committed to Connecticut, Espinoza-Hunter looked like a member of that dynasty scoring 90 points as her team split two games in Fairfax. Mostly she looks to drive (particularly along the baseline). Just to keep your attention, she will step out and hit multiple threes, all while being quite efficient in scoring these points. For this showing, she shared our unofficial event MVP honors with Paul VI’s Ashley Owusu.
Adrianne Hagood, 5-9, shooting guard, 2017, Elizabeth Seton High School (Bladensburg, Maryland)
Hagood was typical of what her team tried to do in playing up tempo ball. She showed an ability to hit the three and attack the basket. The Sacred Heart signee posted 19 points in her team’s one outing at the event.
Imani Lewis, 6-1, power forward, 2018, Life Center Academy (Burlington, New Jersey)
Lewis is a stretch four liking to operate out of the high post but can go behind the arc and bury a three. A lefty, Lewis posted 46 points in her team’s two wins at Fairfax. She has several Power 5 offers in hand.
Natalija Marshall, 6-4, power forward, 2020, Christ the King High School (Middle Village, New York)
Marshal is a very young player who has not grown into her body. She runs very well, is agile and has good hands. She can finish with either hand near the rim and has a nice mid-range jumper. A high major prospect, she showed flashes of brilliance in posting 11 points in one game but like most her age needs to get stronger and become more consistent.
Mir McLean, 5-10, power forward, 2020, Roland Park Country School (Baltimore, Maryland)
Watch McLean for a few minutes and you will conclude, as did the evaluators present, that she can jump out of the gym. She posted 18 points (and unofficially close to that number of rebounds) in her team’s 70-60 upset of defending New York State large class champions Ossining. A sure Division I prospect, her level will be determined by what she can add to her game in the next few years as current scoring is mid-key or closer to the basket.
Lauren Park-Lane, 5-4, point guard, 2019, Sanford School (Hockessin, Delaware)
Park-Lane has fine handles and good basketball IQ to complement her quickness. Her scoring here (11 points) was primarily via attacking the basket sometimes putting up floaters along the way. Adding some shooting range could boost her stock but she is definitely a Division I point guard with level yet to be determined.
Angel Reese, 6-3, forward, 2020, St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Maryland)
Reese has not yet filled out and her game is still not yet defined. She is agile with good hands and runs well. A likely Power 5 prospect, she needs to become stronger and find a niche at the 3F or 4F position.
Kaelynn Satterfield, 6-0, guard/forward, 2019, Christ the King High School (Middle Village, New York)
Satterfield has a strong build that big time college programs love. She helped with the ball handling (an area where her team currently needs the most improvement) but is really an attacking wing player who can hit the mid-range shot but prefers to go to the basket. She posted 19 points in one outing in Fairfax.
Aisha Sheppard, 5-10, small forward, 2017, St. John’s College High School (Washington, DC)
Sheppard was very consistent in her two games at the event posting 17 and 30 points in her team’s two wins. The Virginia Tech commit is a baseline operator who can hit the three beyond the arc.
Chanel Wilson, 5-6, guard, 2018, McEachern High School (Powder Springs, Georgia)
Wilson is an all-around offensive player capable of hitting the three, mid-range shot or going to the basket. Capable of playing either guard slot, she is more likely a point guard prospect at the college level (and getting Power 5 offers). She posted 26 points in her two games at Fairfax.
Olivia Tucker, 5-8, shooting guard, 2019, Sanford School (Hockessin, Delaware)
Tucker is a spot up shooter with three-point range and a quick release. With a strong body, she can finish at the rim although driving is not her first scoring option. At Fairfax, she posted 27 points in her team’s loss (to St. Frances). D1 programs should be monitoring her maturation.