Talent sparkles amongst the snow flakes
By Bob Corwin
The motto of this year’s She Got Game Classic was “the show must go on.” A late fall snowstorm caused some area teams not to participate on orders from their respective school administrations. Also, some playing facilities became unavailable for Saturday (when the snow fell). Yet, the talent present and quality of play still made this one of the premier events of this high school season. There was also a section called She Got Game International Classic which included teams from Canada and one from Australia. Approximately 128 teams were on the docket of this (the ninth) edition of the event. Teams were given one to three pre-set match-ups as they requested. Over 100 colleges (mostly NCAA Division 1) attended one or more days of the event held in the Greater DC area (mostly Maryland suburbs) on December 8-10.
Top Team – Winter Haven
Were they the most talented team at the event? No. What they accomplished was (more than any other team) announcing themselves on a national stage as one of the best, not just in Florida but in the USA. The school represents a small city in Florida’s Citrus Belt sort of between Orlando and Tampa. Combining skill, size, athleticism and a willingness to play hard, the Blue Devils defeated three quality teams (North Augusta of South Carolina, St. Frances of Baltimore and New Hope Academy of Maryland) at the event.
Most exciting moment – Lewis hits game winner to upset Princess Anne (see photo at the top)
Post-game, the word in the gym was told she has done it a couple of times before. Here the gym exploded with noise as Long Island Lutheran’s Alisha Lewis (more below) hit the game winning three from around half court as time expired. The result was a 47-44 win over nationally ranked Princess Anne of Virginia.
Most frustrating – the Woodbridge (Virginia) uniforms
One reason that teams come to events like She Got Game is for their players to be seen by college coaches and scouting services. Woodbridge (out of Virginia) has college prospects on its roster. It would have been nice to be easily able to read their players’ uniform numbers (a slightly lighter green on a darker green background as shown in the accompanying photo). Besides that, the uniforms looked more like practice jerseys (They weren’t!). A good idea would have been to drop them into the Potomac River on the way back to Virginia!
The shot clock issue
Maryland (along with the District of Columbia) is one of the few states that uses a thirty-second shot clock. Other states that use a shot clock for high school basketball are California, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington. In the past, whatever were the rules of the host state became the rules of any event in that state. This fall the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) stated that no shot clocks are to be used in any girls’ basketball event that NFHS sanctions if any teams from at least one non-shot-clock state are participating. Therefore, the shot clocks remained idle much to the consternation of coaches and parents who favor their use. This decision was fully beyond the control of event organizers who were under a firm “no shot-clock mandate” by NFHS.
Looking at some of the individual talent in alphabetical order with height, position and school within graduation year. Location of school is in parenthesis.
All players discussed below should be considered as prospects at some level of NCAA Division 1. Many quality players who were discussed in recent prior articles on our website are not discussed here even though they again performed well. With so many teams present, many noteworthy performers were unfortunately overlooked below.
Shakira Austin, 6-5, center, Riverdale Baptist School (Upper Marlboro, Maryland)
Committed to Maryland, Austin has most everything you want in a post. She has great size, runs well, has good hands and finishes with contact. On top of that, she has a good motor and is a nightly double-double of points and rebounds.
Aasiya Berry, 6-2, center, Miami Country Day School (Miami, Florida)
Berry is an unsigned senior with grades. Yes, she could be in better condition. In the last year, she has started to develop post moves and finish better. Some non-major D1 needing a 2018 post should be laying down a scholarship offer ASAP.
Emily Engstler, 6-1, power forward, St. Francis Prep (Queens, New York)
Signed with Syracuse, Engstler has a solid mid-range stroke and is a fine passer with excellent vision out of the double team. With very quick hands, she can pick up fouls thinking her hands are even quicker than they are.
Donnetta Johnson, 5-11, small forward, Baldwin High School (Baldwin, New York)
Committed to Georgia, Johnson does not shy away from attacking the basket from the perimeter, finishing with contact. A strongly built lefty, she looks to ultimately go left to score (even if starting out going right).
Jada McMillian, 5-7, point guard, Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School (Raleigh, North Carolina)
Committed to UNC Charlotte, McMillian keeps an active, athletic offense under control moving in the right direction. Individually, she looks to drive to the rim but also has a nice pull-up jumper.
Mya Burns, 6-0, small forward, North Augusta High School (North Augusta, South Carolina)
A good athlete with ups, Burns hits the boards. Offensively, she looks to attack along the baseline, not fearing contact once into the paint.
Alisha Lewis, 5-8, point guard, Long Island Lutheran High School (Brooksville, New York)
Orally committed to Georgia Tech, Lewis is a pass first point guard who can also hit the three. Her court vision is very good. Being able to hit long-range game winners (as mentioned above) is an added bonus.
Yasmeen Chang, 5-9, shooting guard, Gulf Coast High School (Naples, Florida)
Orally committed to Miami, Chang is a powerful attacker of the basket with good ups. Her outside shot appears best at mid-range.
Kirsten Deans, 5-7, point guard, Westridge Academy (Kernersville, North Carolina)
Deans is an athletic lead guard with a good motor and court vision. With good handles, she can go strongly to the basket but also has a nice pull-up jumper to stop and pop. She can hit the three but that is not her prime scoring option. Power 5 schools should be monitoring her progress.
Zakiyah Franklin, 5-7, shooting guard, Winter Haven High School (Winter Haven, Florida)
An athletic lefty with Power 5 offers, Franklin can go strongly to the basket going right. On top of this, she can shoot the three. Her 31-point performance in a win over St. Frances of Baltimore was one of the highlight outings at the event.
Brianna Jackson, 6-3, center, Princess Anne High School (Virginia Beach, Virginia)
With a strong muscular build, Jackson is a worker on the glass willing to play with physicality. Offense is strictly low post but Power 5 schools are already lining up.
Elizabeth Kitley, 6-4, center, NW Guilford High School (Greensboro, North Carolina)
Orally committed to Virginia Tech, Kitley is well schooled around the low block with a variety of moves. Sometimes getting extra attention helps to open up her teammates on the perimeter.
Koi Love, 5-11, forward, Miami Country Day School (Miami, Florida)
Love transferred into Country Day and it seems to be agreeing with her game. She is now adding more perimeter offense (still needs work). She scores mostly by getting into the paint. Power 5 schools are pursuing.
Celeste Taylor, 5-11, shooting guard, Long Island Lutheran High School (Brooksville, New York)
Orally committed to Texas, Taylor is a quality athlete with shifty moves to the rim. She can also hit the three. For her size, Taylor is a good shot blocker. Together with Alisha Lewis, they comprise one of the best back courts in high school ball this year.
Marisa Warren, 5-8, point guard, Incarnate Word Academy (St. Louis, Missouri)
In spite of her team taking two lopsided losses at the event, Warren played hard (good speed and quickness) in both games. Offensively, she looks to drive (mostly left being lefthanded) to score or dish. She needs to build shooting range consistency.
Aicha Caulibaly, 6-2, guard/forward, New Hope Academy (Hyattsville, Maryland)
Caulibaly recently arrived from Mali and brought a big-time perimeter game with her. She drives with power going right but can also hit the perimeter shot to beyond the arc. Power 5 schools have been lining up and should be to offer this talented athlete!
Stefanie Kulesza, 6-0, small forward, Conrad Schools of Science (Wilmington, Delaware)
Kulesza, the coach’s daughter, runs the court well finishing on the fast break. In the quarter court, she can hit the three. She already has Power 5 offers.