In these highlights, the Pistols Team Elite face off against the FBC Southeast Elite Mo. Both teams have talented 8th and 9th graders that are potential BCS prospects. A handful of these 2016 & 2017 players have the chance to be the next major recruits out of Atlanta.
ATLANTA -- Over the years, the state of Georgia has produced some mega basketball stars including Olympians Theresa Edwards and Maya Moore. Four years ago everyone on the AAU circut was stunned by the talent level of the Georgia Ice, a team that produced nine D-1 players for the 2013 class including three Full Court Fresh 50 players in Diamond Deshields, Kaela Davis and Lexi Brown. Now when you hear about rising talent in the Atlanta area, you have to pay attention. Often times the hype falls short of expectations, but every now and then, the hype is real.
That’s exactly what happened as Pistols Team Elite coached by Kirk Pointer squared off against FBC Southeast Elite Mo coached by Alfred Motton during the Fall Finale held at Coretta Scott King Academy during the fall college viewing period. Between these teams there are as many as ten future BCS (Big Six Conferences will soon be the phrase) prospects on the court, none of whom had yet played a game of high school basketball.
The final score of the game really is not important. The Pistols won quite comfortably (just under 20 points). So what’s the big deal? The Pistols are a team composed mostly of incoming high school freshmen while the FBC squad is a team just entering eighth grade plus one entering freshman. A match-up of club teams of similar ability, but a grade apart in age, normally yields a win for the older squad in the neighborhood of twenty points. Thus the FBC squad should not have been expected to win.
Both teams have had major successes playing outside the Atlanta area winning prestigious national events and both teams have members already being courted (as NCAA rules allow) by major division one programs.
What was so beautiful to watch was not only that these young ladies showed great basketball skills for their young ages but they understood how to play together and make the sum of parts greater than the individual pieces. When you watch the attached video, look for the combination of skill, athleticism and above average basketball understanding!
Let’s introduce you to two teams whose members will for sure be some of the best high school players in the Southeast and perhaps in the USA. Whether they can live up to the bar set by the Georgia Ice is a stretch, but they have a chance to be special.
Pistols Team Elite
Operating technically under the Georgia Pistols umbrella organization, the team is in its fourth year of operation. Since its inception it has been coached by Kirk Pointer, who has a strong athletic resume, having played college basketball and football at Austin Peay and two seasons in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He got into coaching in girls basketball due to his daughter Khayla, who is one of the team’s several BCS prospects.
This summer the team won the AAU Eighth Grade Nationals in Florida as well as winning sections (playing up a year) in the Deep South Classic, Cincinnati Midwest Showdown and Basketball on the Bayou. The majority of the players on the team come from Cobb County area located northwest of Atlanta with all players but two (both class of 2017) members of the 2016 graduating class. According to Coach Pointer, from April through September 2012, the team lost just three games, all to older club teams.
FBC Southeast Elite Mo
Part of the Finest Basketball Club (referred to as FBC) operating out of metropolitan Atlanta, the team just completed its first season. Coached by Alfred Motton, the team is comprised of players who came over with Motton from the Georgia Volunteers, who finished third in the 2011 Sixth Grade Section of AAU Nationals. Motton himself played college basketball at Alabama A&M and has coached girls club basketball for over a decade. This summer the team made the final four of its section in the AAU Showcase at Disney World in July and won the 14 and under section of the Battle in the Boro.
An unusual fact about these teams is that most of the players train together with First Step Sports Training at sites in Atlanta and surrounding suburbs during the week. The training regimen includes non-weight bearing exercises and basketball skill development. While the head coaches of both teams are principals of First Step, no players on either squad are required to participate in order to maintain standing with their respective club teams. From watching both teams on the basketball court, it is obvious these young ladies are learning the game right!
For the record, I believe just about all the players below -- with continued maturation of their basketball skills -- will receive division one basketball scholarship offers at some level which can’t be fully determined for a few more years.
A brief look at members of both teams…
Pistols Team Elite
Akia Harris (5-6 point guard, 2016, Girls Preparatory School, Chattanooga, Tennessee)
Harris has a medium-thin build. She is quick with good slashing ability going either way to the basket. She can shoot a mid range jumper but needs to build range.
Zutorya Cook (5-6 point guard, 2016, Osborne HS, Marietta, Georgia)
Cook has a medium-thin build. She has quick hands and feet, playing solid defense. She looks to score via penetration to the basket being able to create her shot. Her passing skills are above average. Her outside shot still needs work. Still she is likely a major division one prospect down the road. Her father Ken is the Assistant Coach for the team.
Khayla Pointer (5-5 point guard, 2017, Marietta Middle School, Marietta, Georgia)
This agile point guard has a medium-thin build. She has the most field general orientation of the guards, sees the court and handles the ball well. Versus man defense, she looks for the drive and dish and versus zone, she will look for the outside shot. One of the two 2017’s on the team, she has time to improve on her low release. She is another likely major division one prospect down the road. Her father is the Head Coach of the team.
Jada Lewis (5-6 guard, 2016, Mc Eachern HS, Powder Springs, Georgia)
This guard has a medium-solid build. Coach Pointer describes her as a ‘firecracker’ due to her ability to explode to the basket. She passes and defends well. Her outside shot is better off the pass than the bounce. She should help McEachern in their defense of its recent state title and is another likely major league recruit.
Erika Cassell (6-2 center, 2016, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, Atlanta, Georgia)
Cassel is the tallest player on the squad and is a solidly built low post player. She has good hands, passes and runs the court well for her size. She needs to work on powering up around the basket but should be a BCS recruit down the road.
Kierra Graham (5-11 forward, 2016, South Atlanta HS, Atlanta, Georgia)
This is a lefty with a medium-solid build. Her game is currently that of an undersized power forward making up for height with a combination of power and athleticism. As to handling the ball, she needs to work on using her right hand. A nice division one prospect, her level will depend on how much perimeter play is added to her game.
Miranda McClure (5-10 forward, 2016, Hiram HS, Hiram, Georgia)
McClure is a medium built undersized power forward. She often leads the team in rebounding while being listed only at 5-10. A good athlete, she has only been playing basketball in a formal setting for about one year.
Brianna Brown (5-9 forward, 2016, Mount Paran Christian School, Kennesaw, Georgia)
Brown has a medium build. She has a nice mid-range stroke but tends to go to the basket to score. She needs to become better handling the ball with her left hand. An interesting side note, she is a talented musician.
Alexis Luster (5-10, forward, 2016, North Cobb HS, Kennesaw, Georgia)
Luster has a medium build and likes to attack the basket from the high post or wing. A good athlete with more of a body type meant for the perimeter, she needs to build perimeter skills which in the final analysis may determine how high up the division one ladder the offers will come.
Nausia Woolfolk (5-10, guard/forward, 2016, Peach County HS, Fort Valley, Georgia)
Woolfolk is a strongly built perimeter player. She used to play football and that probably helped her to learn to finish against contact. She needs to work on her left hand dribble and the consistency of her outside shot. BCS schools are already lining up for this prospect. In determining which high school she now attends, it was pointed out that she was a member of the school’s homecoming court this year as a freshman, indicating a high degree of respect for her at her school.
Quannecia Morrison (5-7, guard/forward, 2017, Inman Middle School, Atlanta, Georgia)
Morrison is of medium build and is the other 2017 prospect on the team. She looks to penetrate to score and has decent handles for a wing player. A good athlete, she can play tough physical defense. To maximize her potential, she needs to build range. With continued progress, she should attract BCS interest down the road.
FBC Southeast Elite Mo (all class of 2017 but one):
Here the players are all part of the 2017 class, so one is projecting even further out with game skills at an earlier stage of development. Remember many of these players are still growing physically (as well as in basketball skills)!
Taja Cummings (5-3 point guard, 2017, Woodland Middle School, East Point, Georgia)
Cummings may be small on height but has a strong build for such a young player. Not surprisingly, she looks to penetrate to score but does so with a field general mentality. She needs to build shooting range. In spite of her height, she is still a possible BCS prospect down the road.
Mikayla Coombs (5-8 guard, 2017, Wesleyan School, Norcross, Georgia)
Coombs is a medium built slasher, who sees the penetration angles well. How her outside shot develops will likely determine how high up the ladder her division one offers will come.
Bianca Jackson (5-9 guard/forward, 2017, Johnnie Carr Middle School, Montgomery, Alabama)
Jackson was probably meant to play this game from birth since her parents are the head men’s and women’s basketball coaches at Alabama State University. As a player, she is a medium built athletic slasher. On top of that she has a decent jumper. In time she could get BCS offers if she chooses not to stay home and help her mother’s program.
Kasiyahna Kushkituah (6-3 center, 2017, Lindley Middle School, Austell, Georgia)
Kushkituah is a low post player with a very strong body at a young age. She has decent hands and runs adequately for her size. She already has a nice drop step move on the low block, if anything needs to work on using her body more. Pronouncing her name will be a regular challenge for some announcer at a BCS school.
Timaya Butler (5-6 guard, 2017, Sylvan Middle School, Atlanta, Georgia)
Butler is a medium built slasher who can attack the basket. A combo guard, she handles the ball and defends well. She needs to work on attacking going left and improve her outside shot. Coach Motton describes as the most competitive player on the team, something which should add to her chances of being a BCS recruit down the road.
Dominique Banks (6-3 center, 2017, Babb Middle School, Jonesboro, Georgia)
Banks has only been playing organized basketball for about a year. Currently her game is more based on her athleticism (medium build, good hands, has ‘ups,’ willing to be physical in the paint) rather than on basketball moves. The upside here should be noticed by division one coaches in the years ahead.
Nichel Tampa (5-4 point guard, 2017, MD Roberts Middle School, Jonesboro, Georgia)
Tampa is the most decorated of this team’s members having won the NBA Dribble, Dish and Swish National Contest as a 12 year old. She has a medium-thin build with good speed and quickness, and the ability to shoot the three as well as take the ball to the basket. Likely a point guard down the road, she plays on the wing on this team due to her ability to shoot at distance. Yes she needs to get stronger but she already has several BCS offers on the table, indicating a major division one future.
Tylia Gillespie (5-8 guard, 2017, Griffin Middle School, Smyrna, Georgia)
Gillespie is a tough-minded kid originally from the Chicago area. She is a good finisher on the break, can spot up on the wing or break down the opponent off the dribble. She plays good on ball defense with her medium-solid frame. Her left hand dribble could get better. With strong upside, she is another on track to get major BCS offers down the road.
Autumn Newby (6-1 forward, 2017, MacConnell Middle School, Lawrenceville, Georgia)
Newby is described by Coach Motton as his most skilled post player. With medium-solid build, she has a nice face-up jumper and will fight for rebounds.
Alexis Lewis (6-1, center/forward, 2017, Snelleville Middle School, Snellville, Georgia)
Lewis is a strongly built post player with decent athleticism. She runs adequately and can hit the boards but she is still learning the skills needed to compete at the elite club level.
Jasmine Feraro (5-7 guard/forward, 2016, St. Francis HS, Alpharetta, Georgia)
Feraro is coming off an ACL injury. She is the only member of the 2016 class on this team. Prior to the injury, she showed versatile scoring ability (some drive, some spot up shooting).
Lindsey Marchese (6-2 center/forward, 2017, MacConnell Middle School, Lawrenceville, Georgia)
Marchese is a rare athlete in that rowing and basketball are her primary sports. Her strong shoulder development certainly shows the rowing background. She has only been playing high level club basketball for a year. On the court, her game appears to be in the lower paint. She needs to improve her footwork but she plays hard and has a pleasantly focused on court demeanor.