DALLAS, Tex. -- Three themes told the story at the DFW Sweet 16 Tournament May 4-5.
First, Texas Preps Elite Washington will be a stronger team during the summer viewing period than the club showed at the Boo Williams event in Virginia. In beating DFW T-Jack Elite 59-56 and Boo Williams 16U 56-47, the team appears to be moving forward from its 1-2 showing in Hampton a few weeks back. With a team consisting exclusively of what appears to be BCS recruits (see comments on a few below), it is taking time to marry talent with teamwork but progress seems to be occurring.
Second, after a disappointing second place finish in the Silver Bracket (second-place pool teams) at the Boo Williams Invitational, DFW T-Jack Elite is undergoing a mid-spring renovation. Brianna Turner (6-4 C 2014), its star at Boo Williams, is concentrating on USA Basketball this summer and was not present at this event. If she doesn’t make the USA U19 squad, there were rumors in the gym of her playing another club (possibly rival Cy-Fair) during the July viewing period. To counter this, the DFW leadership is going young, planning for the future by adding the talented duo of Calveion (Juicy) Landrum and Alexis Morris to the T-Jack roster. In spite of their youth (see below), this duo helped the top DFW squad to victories over Boo Williams (63-61) and Team Ichiban (75-63).
Third, DFW has a lot of young talent in addition to the above on its two ninth/eighth grade teams (named DFW Elite 817 and DFW Elite 214). Several of those players are discussed below in addition to others that stepped up to stand out in some way at Triple A Academy.
As in the name of the event, 16 players are discussed, and are listed alphabetically within each class. Home town is in parenthesis.
Dorothy Adomako, 6-0, small forward, BWSL-16 (Moseley, VA)
Adomako was the bright note in a dour weekend for the visitors from Virginia, who went 1-3 in Dallas. Adomako played hard at both ends and hit double figures in her team’s first three games. She likes to attack the basket but can hit the mid-range shot and said she has recruiting interest from ACC and Big East schools.
Terriel Bradley, 5-9, guard, Team Ichiban (Grand Prairie, TX)
Bradley did a little bit of everything for her team. She was particularly good getting out on the break and showed good body control finishing in traffic near the rim. Committed orally to the University of Kansas, Bradley combines above average athleticism, skill and basketball IQ in a medium-solid build. She led her team to a 3-1 result in the event.
Michelle Nwokedi, 6-2, small forward, Texas Preps Elite Washington (Missouri City, TX)
Nwokedi combines above-average athleticism with bona fide three-point range in a medium-solid frame. If anything, she seems more comfortable shooting at distance than trying to finish in the lane.
Tiarra Warren-Cox, 5-8, shooting guard, Texas Preps Elite Washington (Plano, TX)
Warren-Cox could best be described as steady and athletic. She showed good passing on the break and a nice midrange jumper in the quarter court. On defense, she showed an ability to read the passing lanes.
Japreece Dean, 5-5, point guard, Sophia Young Elite 2013 Black Team (Cedar Park, TX)
Some players just show presence on the court in the way they run the offense, and Dean appears to be one of them. She handles the ball well, is above average athletically and in basketball IQ. She drives well but needs to work on increasing her range as well as get her build (medium-thin) stronger. Already targeted by midmajors, the word in the gym was that BCS schools are beginning to show interest.
Lashann Higgs, 5-9, guard, Texas Preps Elite Washington (Round Rock, TX)
Higgs was our unofficial Full Court event MVP. In both Texas Preps victories, she controlled the action on offense with her quarter court drives (going left and right) and passing on the fast break. In general, she shared the ball better than when seen in Virginia a few weeks ago. On defense, she had numerous steals and rebounded well for someone playing lead guard. As this future Longhorn goes, so does her team (two solid performances, two wins).
Teaira McCowan, 6-7, center, DFW T-Jack Elite (Brenham, TX)
It might seem hard to overlook someone who starts and is 6-7, but with McCowan it can happen. Previously she played in the shadow of Fresh 50 member Brianna Turner and now younger players (see below) are helping to lead the T-Jack squad, so again others are being touted. The negative is that she sometimes misses easy shots and struggles to gather herself in traffic. However, her body is already fairly solid in build and she blocks and alters shots with her superior height even if she is just adequate, not special, athletically. Her touch seems to be coming along as she notched 18 points on seven of eight from the field versus Boo Williams. This future BCS player also led her team with 18 points in its victory over Team Ichiban.
KJ Stasny, 5-9, small forward, Texas Preps Elite – 2015 Brown (Blue), (Celina, TX)
Stasny was not on one of the top tier teams in the event but what was so impressive about her was her passing ability. Above-average passers are relatively uncommon amongst forwards. For offensive moves she has a nice spin dribble drive where she is about as likely to shoot as pass. She can also spot up for threes, particularly in the wing to baseline area. She is currently receiving midmajor interest.
Justis Szczepanski-Beavers, 6-3, power forward, Texas Preps Elite Washington (Aledo, TX)
Justis is aptly named because she was a beaver on defense. Coming off the bench versus Boo Williams, she played strong physical denial defense on the low block helping her team to victory. She deflected several entry passes and discouraged other possible entries to the post with the active movement of her hands and feet, something that doesn’t always show up in the box score. Another future Longhorn, she runs and jumps well but needs to work on her offensive skills which currently are the weaker side of her game.
Ciera Johnson, 6-3, center, DFW Elite 817 (Red Oak, TX)
So often, young post players are described as “raw” or “has upside.” So it’s nice when you find one that already has good skills and is just a freshman. Johnson handles the ball well for her size (medium-solid build with fairly wide shoulders) and has legitimate basketball moves in the low post. Her hands and feet are above average and she is a good passer as centers go. She needs to work on her foul shooting but should have a BCS future with normal progression.
Calveion (Juicy) Landrum, 5-9, shooting guard, DFW T-Jack Elite (Waco, TX)
Juicy, as she likes to be called, is already a name player in Texas and is considered to be top five in the 2016 class by some scouts. She handles the ball well and can create her own shot being well above average athletically with nice size for a shooting guard. She can shoot the 3-ball but is more likely to go to the basket or take a midrange jumper. Her poise is well above average for her age and she was T-Jack’s second leading scorer (11 points) versus Boo Williams.
Alexis Morris, 5-6, point guard, DFW T-Jack Elite (Beaumont, TX)
When you are an eighth grader playing up against rising juniors and seniors of BCS quality, the goal for most is to just survive the test. Morris exceeded that, averaging 8.3 ppg versus the quality opponents (Texas Preps Washington, Boo Williams and Ichiban). Of medium build, she has a nice stroke from the perimeter and can attack the basket thanks to above average handles. The word in the gym is that she is one of the top prospects in Texas’s 2017 class
Kayla Owens, 6-0, small forward, DFW Elite 817 (Houston)
When it comes to a high athletic upside, Owens is well up the chart. With long arms and a lanky frame, she can get off her feet to balls in the air quicker than many players who are taller than her. Like so many gifted athletes to whom the game comes easily, she needs to add to her skills with more use of her off (left) hand dribble and developing a perimeter shot to complement her dribbling to the basket.
Madison Washington, 5-7, point guard, DFW Elite 817 (Red Oak, TX)
There were a lot of D1 prospect guards at the event but few had the combination of quality handles and outside shot including three-point range of this player. Washington is a lefty but you have to wait for a shot to be sure. She passes well and understands how to get the ball to a player posting up (fewer do this well than you may think). With normal progression, she should get BCS offers down the road.
Chania Wright, 5-8, combo guard, DFW Elite 214 (Desoto, TX)
Wright is a coach’s daughter as her father has coached on the boys’ side. She shoots the ball well from inside and outside the arc. On the break, she finishes on each side with the proper hand. Here is yet another player in need of monitoring at the BCS level.
Zarielle Green, 5-10, combo guard, DFW Elite 817 (Dallas)
Here is another athlete playing up with quality players a year or two ahead in grade and looking like one of them. Currently medium-thin in build, she has good quickness as well as speed. An instinctive driver, she lays the ball up with the proper hand on each side. She also showed good court vision on the break. She now needs to smooth out her stroke as it is a bit pushy in nature but there appears to be a BCS upside here regardless.