It was a joyous Thanksgiving weekend for several teams from Tennessee as local schools Blackman, Oakland and Riverdale combined for a perfect five-win record against quality out-of-state opposition at the Tennessee Turkey Jamm in Murfreesboro. Several underclass prospects raised their recruiting stock and a couple of future high level BCS players showed off for the first time as high school freshmen. Except for a few seniors, star status this weekend belonged to their underclass players.
A few national level results first…
Riverdale, TN 69, Bolingbrook, IL 53
This game was much closer than the final indicates, the score was knotted at 44 after three quarters. Bolingbrook has re-loaded with five talented transfers after graduating eight players to division one colleges last year. Riverdale, who returned four key players from last year’s state championship, used their advantage of team cohesion and home court to emerge the winner.
Riverdale, TN 90, Winton Woods of Cincinnati, OH 65
This was a case of a very talented team dominating a respectable team of significantly lesser talents.
Blackman, TN 63, Bolingbrook, OH 54
The young Blackman team, with a core of talented sophomores, stayed in front of Bolingbrook by a few points all night. Blackman is a school with potential to crack the national high school rankings over the next few years, assuming the team stays intact (the county is adding a new high school which could affect the future of the program).
Oakland, TN 63, Shades Valley of Irondale Alabama 59
Oakland, the third team from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is a good team that lives in the shadow of nearby national power Riverdale. Shelby Gibson made her national high school debut by edging out one of the top teams in Alabama. Shades Valley finished the event defeating Wilson Central (Lebanon, TN) 59-39.
Oakland, TN 69, Hall of Little Rock, AR 44
In this contest Gibson dominated the key and the game, scoring 21 points to conquer Hall High School who boasts Full Court Fresh 50 player Tyler Scaife (19 points). Earlier in the event Hall defeated a re-building McEachern of Powder Springs, GA 55-40.
Incarnate Word Academy, MO 59, Hoover, AL 56
This contest was tied at 33 at the half and went back and forth until late in the fourth quarter. Napheesa Collier (more on her below) of I.W.A. starred with 24 points and 13 rebounds. I.W.A. played only one game in the event. Earlier Hoover defeated a down Memphis Central 48-38.
The top performers of the event…
Olivia Jones (5-9 forward, Riverdale High School, Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
Jones has made being a ‘garbage player’ into an art form. She has the ability to affect the game in ways that show up in the box score (rebounds, steals, assists) and others that could be overlooked by the casual observer such as defensive deflections, tying up opponents on the floor for loose balls, knocking balls to teammates who eventually score, raising the intensity of her team by and unrelenting effort game after game. In these two contests you could add in the hard facts of 21 and 16 points, including a couple of three pointers which is unusual for her game.
When asked what she brings to the table as a player, Jones quickly responded “competitiveness.” -- “I used to get coached by my grandfather when I was living in Louisiana". Olivia and her immediate family moved to Tennessee as a result of Hurricane Katrina which decimated parts of the New Orleans area where she grew up. "He died my freshman year. I pretty much said I was going to play for him every game.”
Earlier this month Jones signed with Middle Tennessee State, “They recruited me pretty hard. I already knew I wanted to go to North Carolina or MTSU. MTSU never backed off. They stayed on me and it was close to home.”
In discussing her preparation for division one basketball, Jones said she is working on ball handling and shooting. Off the court, she is considering a career in the legal field.
Tyler Scaife (5-9 point guard, L.R. Hall High School, Little Rock, Arkansas)
This was not the best of weekends for the hard-driving 2013 point guard, ranked No. 6 in Full Court’s Fresh 50. She scored 20 points in a win over McEachern High School of Powder Springs, Georgia and 19 points in a losing effort versus Oakland High School of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She ran the offense, handled the ball well and played hard on defense but in both games needed a high volume of shots to get her points. Still Scaife’s jumper has to be described as one of the prettiest in the prep game with good elevation and release very near the top of her jump.
When I asked her about her recent commitment to Rutgers, Scaife had this to say, “I think Coach Stringer is a great coach. They have a great team, just missing a few pieces. I felt real comfortable when I went up there to visit.”
Tennessee finished second in the ‘Scaife Bowl’ with LSU and Ohio State also in the race until the last few days according to the player herself.
In discussing her future role at Rutgers, Scaife pointed to an up tempo style, "Coach wants me to be a scoring point guard also. Whatever she needs, I’m going to go in there to do.”
Off the court, she is considering a business major.
Aysia Bugg (5-9 forward, Bolingbrook High School, Bolingbrook, Illinois)
One of five transfers to Bolingbrook, Bugg may be the best of the lot. Of medium build, she plays hard with good quickness on defense, has a smooth mid-range jumper and is not afraid to attack the basket. She had 14 and 10 points respectively in the two hard fought for losses to the Murfreesboro schools, each game being played on the opposing team’s home floor.
Transferring in from Oswego East High School in Illinois, her family moved into the Bolingbrook district. When asked about the differences favoring her new team over her prior school, the junior commented “how hard we play.” She was attracted to the tougher playing schedule and the opportunity for greater exposure.
She hasn't made a college list yet, but said she is currently being pursued the hardest by Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Princeton (as she is a good student). She hopes to someday pursue a career in the medical field and should have plenty of BCS level schools anxious to help fulfill her career goals via a basketball scholarship.
Alexa Middleton (5-9 guard, Riverdale High School, Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
Middleton has been profiled previously on this site, but her 32-point outburst against Winton Woods deserved recognition. She made almost every shot she took, including three three-pointers’s, several mid-range jumpers and was 3-for-3 at the foul line. Throw in three assists and solid play on defense and you have one special performance!
At times, she may not shoot the ball well, she had nine points versus Bolingbrook, but as is the mantra of her team, she doesn’t let up on defense, has a high motor and embraces physical play. There will be no lack of BCS offers coming her way.
Morgan William (5-4 point guard, Shades Valley High School, Irondale, Alabama)
Coming into the Turkey Jamm, William was known as one of the top point guards in Alabama’s 2014 class. After her performance, she may be on a few out-of-state BCS recruiting boards as well. While not tall and of medium-thin build, William has an extra gear when it comes to foot speed. She handles the ball well, scoring primarily by drives, mid-range jumpers and getting to the foul line. In this event she scored 17 points and 11 points respectively. On defense, she has the quickness to disrupt causing turnovers.
Napheesa Collier (6-1 forward, Incarnate Word Academy, St. Louis, Missouri)
Transferring in from Jefferson City (MO) High School due to a parental job-related move, Colllier should help I.W.A. back into national prominence. She has a long, athletic build and is light on her feet. At her prior school, she played more on the perimeter (can shoot the three) which is where she will probably play at the division one level. At I.W.A., they are asking her to score more in the key where she displays good ‘ups’ and an ability to finish well in traffic with a soft touch. As a good student according to a member of the coaching staff, look for a long line of BCS schools to queue up for this likely top fifty prospect.
Crystal Dangerfield (5-5 point guard, Blackman High School, Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
Last summer, this young player played a back-up role on the Tennessee Flight Silver (Nike Nationals champion). Now with a team of her own to direct, it is easy to see how special her skill set is. Versus a talented Bolingbrook squad, Dangerfield controlled the action scoring 20 points and dishing out a handful of assists. She has above average speed and quickness and her ability to change direction while dribbling the ball is remarkable. Combining that with a quick first step, it is very hard for one defender to stop her from penetrating the key. To top all this off, she possess above average court vision while on the move.
Currently not fully filled out, she needs to add a bit more bulk. Her perimeter shooting, particularly the three, still needs to get better. Regardless, Dangerfield is likely one of the top 2016 point guard prospects in the USA.
Shelby Gibson (6-3 center, Oakland High School, Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
Gibson still does not pass the ‘eye test’ for some college coaches. She improved her diet and has already dropped over 20 pounds since last seen in the Juniors Division of Nike Nationals but still has a ways to go. “I worked out, cut down eating, drank more water.”
In each contest versus primarily older opposition, she scored 21 points dominating the lower key. According to another player from the Tennessee Flight, her summer basketball club, “She does not tire”. So maybe too much is being said negatively of her body type. Her hands are strong and she finishes well against contact thanks in part to that strong build. From the foul line she made ten out of fifteen.
Surprisingly, she showed no hesitation in naming Alabama as to where she would like to attend college. Tide take note! If not, there will be a long line of BCS schools willing to take your place.
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