Showcase for smaller SoCal high schools featured some big time talent

Staff Writer
February 7, 2013 - 2:13pm
6-1 junior Kristen Simon is averaging a double-double this season for Windward High School. (Photo by Bob Corwin)

6-1 junior Kristen Simon is averaging a double-double this season for Windward High School. (Photo by Bob Corwin)

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calf. -- In Southern California, schools with high school enrollments of 1250 and less are considered fairly small [which would be pretty big in some states] and are placed in Divisions IV or V (smallest) of the complicated state playoffs.  On Saturday, February 2,  JSerra Catholic High School of San Juan Capistrano, California, held what hopefully was their first annual invitational showcase featuring many of the best teams in this size category.  This well-run event happened to feature one nationally ranked team and several Full Court Fresh 50 members.

Windward 59, JSerra 48

The contest was pretty close for three quarters.  In the first half, Windward shot a lot of blanks over the JSerra zone while the hosts were having more success from the outside.  The result was a slight 26-25 Windward lead at half.  In the second half, the visitors slowly pulled away as Windward junior post Kristen Simon began to assert herself (7 points and better central control).  Meanwhile, JSerra's primary perimeter scorer, sophomore Coco Miller, was held to just five points after posting eleven in the first half.  Throughout the contest, Windward’s Jordin Canada (see below) dominated play.  Their superior talent (three BCS level players) and tighter second half defense got them by a gritty JSerra team that recently put a scare (61-54) into the current national consensus No. 1 Mater Dei of Santa Ana, California. 

Tournament Highlights

Looking at some of the featured players in the event…


Kendall Cooper, 6-4, C/F, St. Anthony High School, Long Beach, California

When it comes to physical talent, it is hard to match the gifts given this Duke signee.  She has good hands and runs very well for her size.  Even though she finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, you came away expecting more as her team lost 64-44 to Mater Dei of Chula Vista trailing pretty much the whole game.  Yes, Cooper was in foul trouble but when in the game she needed to be more willing to get physical in the paint but wasn’t until near the very end of the contest.

“We need to do a better job of getting the ball to her [Cooper]” commented St. Anthony’s Coach James Anderson post-game.  He went on to state that he believes she is a more of power forward at the next level.  Even at that position, more toughness will be needed to successfully compete in the ACC.

Kelsey Plum, 5-8, PG, Country Day High School, La Jolla, California

The word in the gym was that this University of Washington signee was coming off illness and was fatigued by her team’s tough schedule which put them at 11-11 after losing here to St. Bernard 56-48.  So many good high school teams can be accused of under-scheduling for their talent preferring to notch repeated lopsided wins.  This can’t be said for Country Day which started the year off ranked nationally in at least one poll and has played many quality opponents.  The truth is Plum does not have enough help and the guard regularly faces double teams.  In this contest, she finished with 18 points (on a high volume of shots), 4 steals and 7 rebounds but no assists as her team was overwhelmed on the boards 39-22.

August Touchard, 5-6, PG, JSerra Catholic High School, San Juan Capistrano, California

This game little point guard repeated threw her body all over the court trying to keep her team in the contest versus nationally ranked Windward.  Currently an unsigned but fully academically qualifying senior, she competes better than most and is willing to attack the basket against taller, more strongly built opponents.  Her fairly slight frame has made the division one schools look the other way but division two schools are missing the boat as her higher level of competitiveness should make up for some of her physical deficiencies.  Playing against Windward’s future division one guards, she scored 15 points.   

Alexandria Young, 6-1. G/F, Mater Dei Catholic High School, Chula Vista, California

Young, a University of San Diego signee, is a very unorthodox player.  She plays point guard in high school with a body more like that of a forward.  In defeating St. Anthony, she repeatedly attacked the basket finishing with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 5 steals.  Look for her to return to the wing at the next level.  She is considering a business or engineering major in college.  


Kandiss Barber, 5-10, G/F, Mater Dei Catholic High School, Chula Vista, California

Barber is your prototype BCS slashing wing.  Post-game, she indicated that that BCS schools Oregon and Washington State as well as mid major Cal State Fullerton have been pursuing her most actively.  She is a fairly solidly built athlete who can get to the rim.  Her outside shot, particularly from near or behind the arc, needs work.  Thus the high majors remain more in observation mode for now.  Versus St. Anthony, she finished with 21 points (primarily via attacking the basket) and 9 boards.  

Chyanne Butler, 5-5 PG, St. Bernard High School, Playa del Rey, California

Butler, the team’s lead guard, has had to step up her scoring (about 20 ppg) in the absence of junior BCS prospects LaJahna Drummer and Emoni Jackson (both 6-2) who are dealing with ACL injuries.  In the win over Country Day, Butler notched 17 points, 4 assists and 6 rebounds, scoring primarily by attacking the rim and hitting pull-up jumpers.  Strengthening her left hand dribble and increasing her shooting range might help increase her stock.  She has no recruiting list but claims interest from a number of unspecified Pac-12 schools.   

Jordin Canada, 5-7, PG, Windward High School, Los Angeles, California

A lot has been said [Jordin Canada narrows her list] on Full Court about the star point guard who is ranked as best in the 2014 class at the position.  Against JSerra, she dominated with 24 points, 7 steals, 7 assists and 5 rebounds.  The most pressing need in an otherwise impeccable game is increased shooting range as most of her scoring comes close to the rim as opponents find it extremely difficult to keep her from penetrating.   

Chenelle Pelle, 6-1, C, St. Bernard High School, Playa del Rey, California

Pelle is your typical blue collar post player with game around basket.  She is willing to knock and be knocked.  Versus Country Day, she went for 12 points and 18 rebounds.  Post-game, she indicated that she had no recruiting list but is being pursued hardest by UC Santa Barbara.   

Kristen Simon, 6-1, C, Windward High School, Los Angeles, California

Simon was coming off a bad ankle versus hosts JSerra but she still managed 12 points and 11 rebounds.  She does just about all of her damage in the lower half of the paint and probably needs to add some range for the next level.  Looking at a possible journalism major, Simon says she's receiving interest from Miami (of Florida), Michigan and numerous Pac-12 schools.


Coco Miller, 5-9, 2G, JSerra Catholic High School, San Juan Capistrano, California

No relation to the former WNBA player by the same name, this Coco has a sweet stroke from the wing and solid form from the charity stripe.  She needs to get physically tougher and try to add some penetrating ability to her game.  As a very good student, academically oriented division one schools should be looking closely at this player in the near future.  In the loss to Windward, she led her team with 16 points.

DiJonai Carrington of Horizon Christian Academy (Photo by Bob Corwin)


Dijonai Carrington, 5-11, G/F, Horizon Christian Academy, San Diego, California

Carrington, who is coached by her mother, was one of the top performers of the event.  Versus Marlborough High School of Los Angeles, she posted 35 points (including three three’s), 10 rebounds, 10, steals, 4 assists and 3 blocks in her squad’s 73-48 victory.  Besides above average athleticism and basketball IQ, Carrington has a very strong right hand for what is a left-handed foul shooter to the point where she can shoot the ball right-handed in the mid key.  Already a name on the west coast, look for her on major division one recruiting charts all over the country.

Mai-Ioni Henson, 6-0, F, Country Day High School, La Jolla, California

After Dijonai Carrington, Henson was the next most impressive freshman at the showcase.  Although she scored just 10 points in the loss to St. Bernard, she showed good understanding moving without the ball and poise scoring around the basket even using the dribble some.  Division one schools on the west coast should be following her progress over the next few years.