CHANDLER, Ariz. - In a rare move by this prestigious event, a pair of sisters was jointly recognized as co-MVPs of the top bracket at the 2012 Nike TOC.
Sophomore Lou Samuelson scored 77 points over the course of the three-day event while senior sister Karlie posted 74 points in her scoring column. Together, they led their Mater Dei Monarchs of Santa Ana, Calif., to a perfect TOC record and a 12-0 start to the season.
Because the teams were placed into eight-team brackets rather than 16 team brackets this year -- the calendar made the four-game, 16-team brackets unworkable -- there were just six all-tournament team members in each bracket rather than 11 (an MVP and five others).
Here's a look at the top players at the TOC, including some who didn't make the all-tournament team.
Karlie Samuelson, 6-1 guard, 2013, Mater Dei High School, Santa Ana CA (Co-MVP)
It’s not just scoring points that is important -- it's also when you score and how often you shoot to score. Versus previous No. 4 St. Mary’s of Phoenix, her first quarter scoring (14 points) gave the Monarchs a 22-14 lead that they never lost. In addition, her shooting percentages were relatively high throughout the tournament especially considering how many long-range three-pointers she took. Previously known as a spot-up shooter, she has added driving skills to her game. She has signed with Stanford where she will probably have to compete with older sister Bonnie, a Cardinal sophomore three-point specialist.
Lou Samuelson, 6-3 forward, 2015, Mater Dei High School, Santa Ana CA (Co-MVP)
The youngest of the sisters, it appears she in time will be the best. Like her older sister, she is a very proficient three-point shooter but she is also willing to post up. For her size, she handles the ball well. She scored 34, 13 and 30 points over three games and she too rained threes. Considered a top 10 recruit in the 2015 class, she still needs to get stronger and fight harder for rebounds.
Oderah Chidom, 6-3 forward, 2013, Bishop O’Dowd High School, Oakland CA
The Duke signee, and recently honored in Sports Illustrated's Faces in the crowd, is very light on her feet for someone of her height and she is also a good passer. For the three games, she averaged just over 14 points per game. Ranked at No. 5 the Full Court Fresh 50, she shows a lot of upside but needs to play more physically at times.
Sophie Cunningham, 6-1 foward, 2015, Rock Bridge High School, Columbia MO
As a reader, you have probably tired hearing the phrase ‘needs to get stronger’ associated with young players. For Cunningham, with a medium-solid frame and wide shoulders, that is not the case as words such ‘aggressive, tough, physically strong’ best describe her. She loves to attack the basket but is very willing to dish the ball to a more open teammate. She showed the ability to shoot a three on occasion but still needs to develop some intermediate game. She has already orally committed to play her college ball at nearby Missouri. For the three games in Arizona, she averaged just over 13 ppg.
Chloe Jackson, 5-8 guard/forward, 2014, Riverdale Baptist School, Upper Marlboro MD
Discussed recently in association with the Beast of the East Showcase, it was more of the same in Arizona with drives, pull-ups and threes while playing hard at the defensive end. For the three games in Arizona, she averaged just over 22 ppg.
Chantel Osahor, 6-1 forward/center, 2013, St. Mary’s High School, Phoenix AZ
This big, who is committed to the University of Washington, is one of the best passing post players in high school ball today. It would almost be fair to call her a point/center as she hits cutters going to the basket with laser-like precision while operating at the high post. If the defender backs off, this lefty can strike as an unlikely looking three-point shooter. On defense, she is her team’s principal interior defender and rebounder. The combination of scoring (12 ppg), assisting and rebounding earned her spot on the all-tournament team.
Joe Smith Division
Gabrielle Green, 6-2 guard, 2014, St. Mary’s, Berkeley CA (MVP)
Granted, Green (No. 8 in the Full Court Fresh 50) did not shoot well in the final game (eight points on a low percentage) but she had the duty of running the offense and did create for others in averaging 10 ppg for the event. Of course hitting the winning shot, as she did in the championship game, can wipe away an otherwise bad shooting night. Without her, it would have also been difficult to survive the intense pressure of Long Beach Poly. Green’s skill set is quite unusual for a player her size and athleticism. It appears she would rather drive and dish than drive and score -- call her a tall facilitator. While her handles are good for her size, she still needs to strengthen them as well as her outside shot for play at the BCS level where she should be in the fall of 2014.
Sierra Calhoun, 6-0 guard, 2014, Christ the King High School, Middle Village NY
Calhoun, No. 10 in the Fresh 50, has to do a bit of everything for a young Christ the King team. She scored 25 and 18 (drives, threes, midrange shots) in her first two games in Phoenix while running the offense much of the time and taking on the toughest assignment at the defensive end. High majors are all lining up for the latest in the long line of stars from this storied program.
Mikayla Cowling, 6-1 forward/guard, 2014, St. Mary’s, Berkeley CA
Cowling (No. 25 in the Fresh 50 for 2014), already orally committed to Cal, could easily have been named the division’s MVP. She shot the ball well for all three games in averaging just over 15 points per contest. She has the prototype major Division I body (medium-solid frame with good mobility) and a fluid midrange jumper and ability to finish at the rim.
Jada Matthews, 6-0 forward/center, 2014, Long Beach Poly, CA
Of medium build, Matthews typifies Poly’s way of doing things: play hard, don’t give up, work the boards for extra possessions, and take what the defense gives you. In a balanced Jackrabbit attack, Matthews averaged just over 12 points per game by continually working hard around the basket at both ends.
Kelsey Plum, 5-8 point guard, 2013, La Jolla Country Day High School, CA
Plum’s team did not win a game in the event yet, the play of the Washington signee was nothing short of outstanding. Scoring 17, 40 and 25, Plum (No. 36 in the Full Court Fresh 50) also tried to involve her teammates, who were often unable to finish off plays she helped start. The lefty lead guard did more than should be asked of one player and for that received an all-tournament selection in spite of her team’s poor showing.
Jordan Reynolds, 5-10 point guard, 2013, Central Catholic High School, Portland OR
Reynolds (No. 40 in the Full Court Fresh 50) was another player in this section who had to carry a heavy load (running the offense and scoring as well) for her team. In scoring just over 17 points per contest, the Tennessee signee showed a wide variety of offense (threes, drives, midrange shots). While she played a considerable amount of point guard in this event, her future at the next level is more likely at the shooting guard position.
Other players of note (a few of many who are worthy)
Jordin Canada, 5-7 point guard, 2014, Windward School, Los Angeles CA
When you watch Windward play, it is hard to believe the Wildcats were not in the Smith Division. Granted they were thin in numbers, playing only five, but all are likely futures Division I signees, starting with the No. 3 player on the Full Court Fresh 50 for 2014, Jordin Canada. Canada is a big-time floor general with USA Basketball experience. She is tough to keep out of the lane on offense while willing to share the ball as need be. On defense, she is more than willing to get into the opposing point guard’s grill. Perhaps she does need to work on her perimeter shot as everything was to the basket as her team defeated (68-43) Miramonte of Orinda CA in the Division G final, scoring just 12 points but setting the tone.
Kristen Simon, 6-0 center/forward, 2014, Windward School, Los Angeles CA
Simon is one player who just missed the cut for the 2014 Fresh 50. She is a bit small in height for a player who scores heavily midkey in but her burly muscular frame allows her to play taller than her height. Besides being above average in athleticism, her basketball savvy is also above the norm. In the Miramonte win, she tallied 16 points and controlled the middle on defense. There is no shortage of BCS interest here.
Asha Thomas, 5-6 guard, 2015, Bishop O’Dowd High School, Oakland CA
With the unavailability of starting point guard Ariell Bostick (5-2, 2013) in the event’s semifinal, the sophomore stepped in and showed great promise as the future Dragons' leader. She can shoot the three and at the same time has above average court vision. While her team’s results were disappointing in Arizona, Thomas showed great promise and a likely BCS future beyond high school.
Andee Velasco, 5-7 point guard, 2015, Mater Dei High School, Santa Ana CA
Winning high school teams usually have solid guard play and Mater Dei is no exception, thanks to this sophomore. While the Samuelson sisters were busy pouring in threes and racking up gaudy point totals, Velasco had to withstand all the pressure that three opposing teams could put on her as her attempted to protect the ball and run the Monarchs’ offense. While she only averaged 9.0 ppg for the tournament, her team would not have won without her and she could have easily been named to the all-tournament team. Her skill set includes an ability to drive to the basket with either hand and she can also spot up for threes off the pass. She appears to be a vocal leader, which is especially noteworthy for a young player. Look for a BCS future down the road.
Gabby Williams, 5-11 point guard, 2014, Reed High School, Sparks NV
In evaluting players who might be in the top ten nationally, the saying goes “If you got to think about it, it probably isn’t so.” When you watch Gabby Williams for just a quarter, you don’t have to question what you saw, knowing you just watched a very special player. Williams combines top level athleticism (long, lanky build) with a good basketball IQ (her father is her club basketball coach and a former college player). She handles the ball well, has good court vision and is willing to share the ball in spite of being the best scoring option on her team. Several national scouting services jumped this player from above 50 to top 20 for 2014 thanks to observations at TOC. The only fly in the ointment for a future college coach might be that Williams is a national level high jumper who just missed qualifying for the 2012 Olympics. She might miss court time while preparing for her 2016 run at Olympic high jump qualification.