Slam expands its field; WPA Bruins win National 16U
By Bob Corwin
The ninth annual ATL Summer Slam, presented by Insider Exposure, saw 210 teams from mostly the eastern half of the USA compete at the Suwanee Sports Academy in Suwanee, Georgia (just northeast of Atlanta near I-85), and a few surrounding area high schools. The event, watched at various times by about 290 college coaches (mostly NCAA division one with some schools sending more than one), 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. Our coverage was limited to this portion of the event along with exhibition games played during those three days. For those who wished for just a game more (or just one game period), pre-set exhibition contests were held on July 26. As in the past, Summer Slam produced some new young names to watch going forward but also saw fine performances by players with established reputations. With so many events going on during this evaluation week (July 23-29), sometimes teams were missing individual players who were at other individual events. While unfortunate for some teams’ results, it did give others a chance to step up into the spotlight.
Looking briefly at the 16U division…
16U National Division:
WPA Bruins win
As sometimes happens, a team cannot stay past a certain time and has to forfeit its next game. This happened in this division’s final and thus the favored WPA Bruins won but did play a last game versus 1 Nation Elite (out of Michigan which had lost its semifinal to Books and Basketball 16u Elite out of New Jersey).
The key game was played in the quarterfinal where the Bruins beat Exodus NYC EYBL 45-43 in a sudden death (first team to score two points) overtime. This was a match-up of an above average Adidas team (Bruins) versus an above average Nike club. The contest was expected to be close and lived up to billing. WPA was up 26-19 at half but Exodus led much of the second half only to be caught in the last minute by the Bruins forcing overtime. Both teams had chances before WPA secured the necessary two points to win.
See parts 2 & 3 for information on lower-age divisions and players.
Below are 2018 performers of note seen at the event. There were many more but these stood out during one or more viewing occasions.
Players below are listed alphabetically by graduation year with listed height, position and club team with home town in parenthesis. Players from graduation years 2019 and 2020 are listed in part 2 (regardless of division) while those from the 2021 and 2022 classes are listed in part 3, again regardless of division.
Me’Ara Carter, 6-4, power forward, Boston Showstoppers 16u (Dorchester, Massachusetts)
Carter is active in the paint with a variety of post moves and attack points around the key, With an upside, she still needs to be a more consistent finisher.
Camree Clegg, 5-5, point guard, 1 Nation Elite (Westfield, Michigan)
Clegg, a Clemson oral commit, is relatively small in height but has a high motor. She prefers the up tempo in full or quarter court. She likes to penetrate but can hit the outside shot, still needing more consistency.
Janai Crooms, 5-11, point guard, Rivals Black (Cranston, Rhode Island)
Crooms is one of the top power guards in the 2018 class. She can kill the opposition getting to the rim or dishing off. Outside shot still could become more consistent as second option to penetration.
Meg Hair, 5-11, shooting guard, I-90 Elite – 11th grade (Fayetteville, New York)
Hair, a Penn commit, had Power 5 interest but she was strictly looking for high academics. Perhaps needing screens to get open, she can hit the three and drive left or right to the rim. A fine catch for an Ivy!
Amani Johnson, 5-6, point guard, Western PA Bruins – Cash (North Versailles, Pennsylvania)
Johnson was the Bruins field general during its successful run to the 16U crown. She can hit the three or go to the rim but tends to think pass first. Word on coaches’ row was stock up this week.
Dara Mabry, 5-7, guard, Exodus NYC EYBL (Belmar, New Jersey)
Mabry is a member of the “all-refuse to lose” team. She can play either guard slot. She lives to take big shots (missed a game winner in overtime versus Western PA Bruins). This spring she completed a rare feat in becoming the third member of her family to be named Gatorade New Jersey High School Player of the Year. Numerous Power 5 schools are lining up.
Olivia Owens, 6-3, center, Cityrocks 2018 (Niskayuna, New York)
Owens is being highly sought after by Power 5 programs as a strongly built post who embraces low post contact. She could build a bit more range and improve handles if you want to be picky.
Jireh Washington, 5-9, shooting guard, Team Slink Pink (Memphis, Tennessee)
Washington will not blow you away athletically and wearing glasses while playing makes her look more student than athlete. Yet she has posted a couple of 30+ point outings this summer. She can score by attacking or via a perimeter shot. Like so many, greater consistency is needed.
Alexa Williamson, 6-1, power forward, Western PA Bruins – Cash (Houston, Pennsylvania)
Williamson is fairly strong in build but still very active in the paint. She hits the boards early and often, not shying away from contact. Scoring is primarily in the paint. Power 5 schools are pursuing.
Shanniah Wright, 6-1, power forward, Exodus NYC EYBL (Brooklyn , New York)
Originally committed to a Power 5 school, Wright is back on the market. She is above average athletically and a strong student who is on the Ivy radar. She runs the court well scoring in lower paint.