Stars Align in Philadelphia
By Bob Corwin
On January 7, 2018, Blue Star put its 11 th annual Blue Star Showcase on display at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the talent did not disappoint the 48 colleges (ranging from the Power 5 level of Division 1 to Division 3) in attendance. The turnout was particularly good given that many colleges were playing that day. The event was comprised of 14 games (seven on each of the two adjoining courts). While the more highly rated teams were on court one, the individual talent was more than adequate on court two.
Top match-ups of the day from a national viewpoint:
Paul VI Catholic High School (Fairfax, Virginia) 75-55 Manasquan (New Jersey) High School
This was viewed as a fairly even match-up of top level East Coast teams coming in with multiple Power 5 prospects on each side. One reason this was such an intriguing game was that New Jersey schools do not travel so much as its neighboring states of New York and Pennsylvania. This is due to later start date (that keeps them out of such quality events as the Art Turner Memorial and “She Got Game”, both in the Metro DC area in early December) and a “never play three days in a row” (that keeps them out of most Christmas Tournaments that run at least that long) New Jersey state rule.
The first half was a close contest ending 30 all. Foul trouble to Manasquan’s tallest player (Faith Masonius – see below) provided an opportunity for Paul VI’s Ashley Owusu to add 12 third-quarter “paint” points to her 20 in the first half. Meanwhile her teammate Kate Klimkiewicz (6-0, senior, small forward) tallied 13 of her 15-point total in the third quarter. The New Jersey side was unable to match this output and trailed 60-43 after three quarters. Game over! Dara Mabry (see below) led Manasquan with 19 points while Masonius posted 16 points in foul-trouble- limited minutes. Owusu captured our #1 star of the day with a 39-point showing in a game what was more competitive than the final score would indicate.
Long island Lutheran (Brooksville, New York) 50-46 Roland Park Country School (Baltimore, Maryland)
This match-up of teams ranked by MaxPreps pitted Lu Hi (as Long Island Lutheran is sometime called) star power versus the greater balance of Roland Park. Here star power prevailed if only slightly. Lu Hi was up 29-24 at half and held a single-digit similar lead for most of the second half. Long Island Lutheran was led by Celeste Taylor (see below) with a game high 19 points. Ja’Niah Henson (5-3, junior, point guard) led Roland Park with 16 points.
Game of the Day:
Lancaster Catholic High School (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) 49-41 3OT Upper Dublin High School (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania)
This battle of good in-state Pennsylvania teams nearly threw the day out of whack schedule-wise, going three overtimes. By winning, Lancaster Catholic kept its undefeated record intact. Kiki Jefferson (see below) led the winners with a game high 25 points.
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 of some level of NCAA Division 1.
Madison Doring, 5-11, shooting guard, St. John Vianney High School (Holmdel, New Jersey)
Signed with American University, Doring led her team with 19 points in its 49-39 win over Georgetown Visitation of Washington, DC. She showed an ability to drive to the rim, hit a couple of threes, and demonstrated an ability to get to the foul line and convert. For her efforts, she was named player of the game.
Dara Mabry, 5-7, guard, Manasquan High School (Manasquan, New Jersey)
Signed with Virginia Tech, when it comes to effort and a refuse-to- lose attitude, few rank any higher than Mabry (last year’s New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year). She looks to attack often using a spin move. She can also step out to hit the three.
Alexa Brodie, 5-6, guard, Central Bucks South High School (Warrington, Pennsylvania)
Brodie is a major why her team was undefeated (10-0) as of the event. She initiates the offense and then leads them in scoring (22 points in this win over Camp Hill (PA) High School). A lefty, she has nice vision setting up others on the fast break if not scoring herself. She showed a nice floater in the quarter court but also a willingness to drive and dish. Power 5 schools should be monitoring her progress.
Leilani Correa, 6-0, small forward, Rutgers Prep (Somerset, New Jersey)
Correa does a lot for her team. She can lead them in scoring (here with 20 points in an overtime win over Cardinal O’Hara High School of Springfield, Pennsylvania), hit the glass and helps out with the ball handling. She works the baseline well often going left (is right-handed). Power 5 schools have been lining up.
Kiki Jefferson, 6-1, small forward, Lancaster Catholic High School (Lancaster, Pennsylvania)
Jefferson is a prime-time, Power 5-level athlete who can attack and finish at the rim. A decent passer, she also has a nice face-up stroke.
Faith Masonius, 6-1, forward, Manasquan High School (Manasquan, New Jersey)
Masonius’s game appears headed in the right direction since last seen over a year ago. She has added more range to her ability to score in the paint. She has multiple Power 5 offers in hand.
Ashley Owusu, 5-11, guard/forward, Paul VI Catholic High School (Fairfax, Virginia)
When not cramping, Owusu (orally committed to Maryland) is one of the top high school players in the country. In previous viewings, she has played much more of a point guard role. Here she operated in the paint using her powerful build to get to the rim. Special commendations to PVI Coach Scott Allen for this adjustment plus making her drink lots of water (see photo) to prevent cramps that contributed to the team’s only two losses this season.
Celeste Taylor, 5-11, small forward, Long Island Lutheran High School (Brooksville, New York)
If Owusu was star #1 of the Showcase, Taylor was star #2. Orally committed to Texas, Taylor plays with high energy as she athletically attacks the basket at numerous angles. Her play at both ends helped nurse a slight lead into a victory versus Roland Park.
Maddie Burke, 6-0, guard/forward, Central Bucks West High School (Doylestown, Pennsylvania)
If you are looking for a tall wing who can stroke from the wing to baseline area (preferring to shoot off the catch), then Burke is for you! Besides the solid stroke, she passes well and has decent handles and footspeed for her size. Power 5 schools are lining up.
Josiah Lacey, 6-1, forward, Westtown School (West Chester, Pennsylvania)
A quality athlete, Lacey plays both in the key and on the perimeter. Scoring is currently primarily in the paint with outside shot present but not yet consistent. She is a good passer but handling with left hand could stand improvement. Power 5 schools should be monitoring her maturation.
Naomi Pierce, 6-2, power forward, Paul VI High School (Haddonfield, New Jersey)
Pierce was miss-numbered and listed as 5-2 plus she plays for a Paul VI in New Jersey, not Virginia, so this kid deserves mention if only to get the record straight! Lean and athletic, she is capable of blocking shots and hitting the glass. Offensively, Pierce is still raw but time is still on her side.
Jackie Vargas, 6-2, power forward, Upper Dublin High School (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania)
An athletic lefty, Vargas’s game is in the paint but still young in nature needing to bulk up a bit. Power 5 schools should be monitoring her maturation.
Kylee Watson, 6-4, center/power forward, Mainland Regional High School (Linwood, New Jersey)
Watson is one of the most highly rated post players in the 2020 class thanks to her ability to run well given her height and fairly strong build with good hands. She still needs to become more dominant in scoring near the basket and build her shooting range as most of her scoring is currently near the rim.
Stefanie Kulesza, 6-0, small forward, Conrad School of Science (Wilmington, Delaware)
Having seen Kulesza once in December, she continues to show the diversity of offense (drive, post, perimeter stroke) seen back then. At this event she received Player of the Game honors in her team’s victory over Archbishop Carroll High School of Radnor, PA. Although very young, she already has Power 5 offers on the table.