The tall and short of things at USA U16 Trials

May 25, 2013 - 8:09am
(l-r) Cy Lippold, Nancy Mulkey and Macy Driver represent the tallest and shortest players in U16 Trials. (Photo by Kelly Kline)

(l-r) Cy Lippold, Nancy Mulkey and Macy Driver represent the tallest and shortest players in U16 Trials. (Photo by Kelly Kline)

Taja Cole gets the craziest outfit award. (Photo by Kelly Kline)

Taja Cole gets the craziest outfit award. (Photo by Kelly Kline)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- One hundred and twenty-four of the nations top prep players decended on Colorado Springs Thursday in hopes of earning the honor of representing the United States as one of the 12 members of the 2013 U16 National Team.  In the first few sessions of camp, most of the players were wide-eyed and attentive as they follwed the instructions of head coach Sue Phillips, who sent each and every hooper through a series of rigorous drills for further evaluation of their skill level.  While skills are ultimately what decides who does or doesn't make the cut, we found a few other fun facts that set some of these young ladies apart.  

By State: The players in camp hail from 29 different states, with the largest contingent coming from Texas. A whopping 18 players are from the Lonestar state, while California and Colorado are tied for second with 13 a piece, followed by Maryland with 12 and Virginia with nine.

By Graduating Class: There are three players who will graduate in 2014, and 48 are in the 2015 class. The majority of the players are in the 2016 class, with a total of 59, while 13 are 2017's. There is one seveth grader from the 2018 class (more on her in a minute).

The Tallest:  6-9 center Nancy Mulkey is the tallest player in camp by far. She has four inches on Kalani Brown, who is the next-tallest player at 6-5. The 2016 prospect averaged 10 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game for Cypress Woods High School in Cypress, Texas.  Her height comes from her mom, Dolores-Bootz Mulkey, a former stand out player for Georgia Tech, who measures in at 6-7, her brother is seven feet tall, her dad on the other hand, is a mere 5-9.

The Shortest:  Macy Driver measures and even 5 feet tall, but that doesn't inhibit her game. The 2015 point guard from MacArthur High School in Desoto, Texas says people often underestimate her; "People look at me and think I'm to small to play, so when I get in the game my first option is to take 'em right to the basket or I give a dime or two to my post."  A close second for the shortest is Cy Lippold,  a 5-1 guard from the class of 2014, who averaged 11.6 points and 6.3 assists for East Stroudsburg High School South in Pennsylvania.

The Youngest: The baby of the bunch is seventh grader Katlyn Gilbert, a 5-8 guard from Heritage Christian School in Indianapolis.  The 2018, was born on January 6th, 2000 and is still has another year of middle school. She's a long shot to make the roster but is still determined to make a name for herself in camp. "My parents told me just to come out here and work hard, that I may be able to take the spot of older players who are taking this for granted. If I don't make it this year, it gives me an opportunity to know what I can do and what I need to work on so I can get better for the next tryout."

Home Schooled: Catherine Gould, a 5-7 guard from Edmond, Oklahoma class of  2017, is the only player in camp who is home-schooled.  Several notable home-schoolers have made USA rosters including UConn guard Moriah Jefferson and Tennessee's Taber Spani.

The Lightweight: The lightest player in camp is Sabrina Ionescu, a 5-10 guard class of 2016 from Maramonte High School in California, who's barely in double digits at an even 100 pounds. But having game doesn't come with a weight requirement, check out Sabrina's mixtape which clearly shows she has a nice handle and plenty of firepower.

The Heavyweight:  Some might think it's not polite to talk about how much a young lady weighs. But in the case of 6-5 center Kalani Brown, who tips the scales at 200 pounds, size does matter, and it is undoubtedly be one of the big reasons she is drawing attention from top D1 schools such as Connecticut, LSU, Baylor, Louisville, Texas A&M  and Texas.  This season Brown dominated in the paint, she led Salmen High School in Louisiana to a 4A state championship averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds, 4.5 blocks and 2 assists per game.

The Birthday Girl: Happy Birthday to Teniya Page who will celebrate her birthday while in camp on May 26th. The  5-8 guard for Marian Catholic High School in Chicago will turn 16 on Sunday.

Best Kicks: Yes, you can bet if you get over 100 hoopers in a room, there is definately going to be a sneaker head.  Well we liked the custom kicks wore by Janaya Hines, a 5-10 forward from Lakeridge High School in Texas.  She was rockin the KD V's (that's the Kevin Durant 5's for you non-sneakerheads).
Craziest outfit: Standing out from the crowd is definately something you want to do at USA Trials and Taja Cole, a 5-7 guard from Lloyd C. Byrd High School in Virginia, definitely stood out in camp for the brightly-colored ensemble she wore on Friday.  While it clashed with the red, white and blue, it appeared to be a well-thought out since the pink and blue "Funky Monkey" shorts also matched her socks and shoes.
NBA Connection:   Kalani Brown is getting a number of mentions in this article, not only is she a "heavy-weight", she also comes from a very athletic family.  Her dad is PJ Brown, who played in the NBA for 14 seasons helped and the Boston Celtics win an NBA championship in 2008.  Another connection to the NBA is 5-9 guard Kysre Gondrezick, the daughter of Grant Gondrezick who was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1986 and also spent over a decade playing professionally in Europe.  Meanwhile Kysre's mom is also quite and athlete, Lisa Harvey-Gondrezick helped Louisiana Tech win two women's basketball national championships back in the 80's and she's now Kysre's head coach at Benton Harbour High School in Michigan.  Famous parents aside, Kysre is making a name for herself, she once scored 43 points in a middle school game and this year as a freshman averaged 29.5 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 3.8 steals.
NFL Connection:  6-1 freshman Faith Suggs for Plainfield East High School in Illinois, is the daughter of form NFL player Shelton Suggs of the NY Jets.  Faith says her dad is one of her biggest motivators; "He's very intense, he's very supportive and he's given me a lot of advice on how to cary myself on and off the court...he tells me to go out and have fun and always smile."   Lauren Moses is the younger sister of NFL rookie Desmond Moses of the Green Bay Packers.  Moses started seven games at outside linebacker this season for the Packers, but still comes home regularly and plays pick up with his little sister. "When he comes home we play one-on-one, he always wins, but we're very competative,"   Lauren, a 6-2 forward for Rancocas Valley H.S., has verbally committed to the University of Virginia.
NCAA Connection:  Kennedy Burke is one of top 2015's in the state of California and she may have gotten a few lessons from her older sister Kody, who plays basketball for N.C. State and led the Wolfpack in points, rebounds and blocked shots this past season.  Kennedy is also making a name for herself. The 6-1 forward, posted 14 points and 16 rebounds in the state championship game to help Sierra Canyon High School win the California State Championship this year.