Louisiana steps forward to start the high school season
By Bob Corwin
Coaches and fans at this year’s Troy Giordano Pelican State Extravaganza, held at Denham Springs High and Junior High in Denham Springs, Louisiana, on October 28, were treated to non-stop action. Presented by New Wave Performance, LLC, play began at 12:30pm (due to morning college boards) and ran past 10pm in the evening. Four gyms were in use with starting times staggered by 15-minute intervals. There were 21 high school and six junior college match-ups. Thus, it was not possible for one person to see everything and get meaningful evaluations. Approximately 27 colleges (including about 16 NCAA Division 1 primarily from Louisiana or surrounding states) attended the event with some schools sending more than one coach (needed due to overlapping times of games).
Best teams present
One must not read too much into a pre-season (not count in this year’s record) game of seven-minute quarters. Still, everyone likes to evaluate and two teams garnered the most support for best present. John Curtis High School of River Ridge appeared best based on superior guard play, stern defense and intelligent shot selection in taking down a talented Ouachita High School from Monroe. McKinley High School of Baton Rouge appeared to be the second best team present at the event. This is a young squad based around a couple of potential Power 5 players discussed below.
Louisiana – too many classes?
Louisiana’s state association (LHSAA) crowns 12 state champions (5 public, 5 private based on enrollment plus two micro-sized divisions (also based on enrollment) called “B” and “C”. Most likely, this is the most from for one state. Florida is probably second with nine state champs. Contact us if you know otherwise!
Looking at some of the talent based on limited viewing of any one game…
Below, players are listed alphabetically within graduation year with height, position, and high school with home town or school location in parenthesis.
Jolie Williams, 5-7, shooting guard, Natchitoches Central High School (Natchitoches, Louisiana)
A good athlete with D1 offers, Williams showed she can shoot the three; having a quick release does not hurt. Although not a natural point guard, she also showed a willingness to share the ball with teammates.
Mahoganie Williams, 6-1, power Forward, Ouachita High School (Monroe, Louisiana)
Williams is a quality athlete with major league potential thanks in part to good “ups” She can finish at the rim and is a better pass than one might expect from her position. She has been getting looks from Power 5 schools down.
Jazmyn Womack, 5-11, shooting guard, Pontchatoula High School (Pontchatoula, Louisiana)
Womack arrived late from college board testing and took a bit of time to get going, hitting a few 3’s late in the game. Before that, she showed a willingness to post up and hit the glass. A perimeter player with good size, she has several D1 offers in hand.
Kiana Anderson, 6-0, power forward, Warren Easton Charter High School (New Orleans,
Strongly built, Anderson was very active with her in-key movement. Offensively, she showed a nice spin move and defensively some shot blocking ability, even if a bit undersized as power forwards go. D1’s should be monitoring her progress.
Salma Bates, 5-6, guard, John Curtis High School (River Ridge, Louisiana)
A lefty, Bates showed an ability to hit the three. Perhaps almost as impressive was that she only took shots within the context of the offense.
Makayia Hallmon, 5-4, point guard, Red River High School (Coushatta, Louisiana)
Strongly built and a vocal leader, Hallmon showed she can finish with contact. She can also hit the three. With multiple mid major offers, word in the gym was that her height is making Power 5 schools hold off from pulling the trigger as yet.
Kennedi Heard, 5-9, small forward, Captain Shreve High School (Shreveport, Louisiana)
A nice athlete with medium-solid build, Heard is currently getting D1 mid major looks. She can hit the three but handles appear to need work.
Destiny Rice, 5-8, point guard, North Caddo Magnet High School (Vivian, Louisiana)
Fairly strong in build as point guards go, Rice displayed good court vision and basketball IQ. She showed an ability to attack the basket. Her outside shot probably needs to become more consistently successful. Word in the gym was that she is one of the top 2019 prospects in the state and getting Power 5 looks.
Tiara Young, 5-10, point guard, Evangel Christian Academy (Shreveport, Louisiana)
Lean and adequately athletic, Young, a coach’s daughter, plays with intelligence and poise. She has a mid-range game and can go to the rim. Considered the top (or very close to it) 2019 prospect in Louisiana, she has Power 5 offers.
Jerkaila Jordan, 5-9, forward, John Curtis High School (River Ridge, Louisiana)
Jordan is really a small forward but plays inside a lot given her team (talented but small) otherwise lacks size. She was active on the glass but also showed nice driving ability along the baseline. D1’s should be monitoring her maturation.
Erica Lafayette, 5-10, small forward, McKinley High School (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
Lean in build, Lafayette appears to be a “hit the three or go to the rim scorer” needing to improve her mid-range game. Already getting mid D1 offers, Power 5 schools need to be monitoring the progress of this above average athlete.
Dijone Flowers, 5-8, point guard, Live Oak High School (Watson, Louisiana)
A definite D1 prospect, Flowers has to do a lot for her high school team. She brings the ball up and then releases to the wing to increase her scoring options. She is a pass first point guard with good court vision. Offensively, she showed a nice baseline drive but needs to increase her shooting range.
Kenyal Perry, 6-7, center, McKinley High School (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
With great size and above average athleticism, Perry, on the lean side in build, is already high on the radar of Power 5 schools. The good news is her game seems to be coming along showing an increased (since seen in September) ability to catch and finish at the rim (about all that is needed at her height). Still a work in progress!
Makya Spears, 6-5, center, Lee Magnet High School (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
With good hands and strong build, Spears runs just adequately but seems to have good focus with game around rim. Given size, she is a likely Power 5 prospect be she still needing to improve.
Rylee Jinks, 5-4, point guard, Fairview High School (Grant, Louisiana)
Jinks, a coach’s daughter, showed herself very much in charge of her team in spite of just being a freshman. With good basketball IQ and court vision, she can shoot the 3 if she gets her feet set. Currently on the thin side, a late boost in height would raise her college stock. Fairview is one of the powers of micro-class “B”. I was told schools like this graduate around 25-35 students per year. The “C” (mentioned above) class is even smaller!