Both the Atlanta Fall Showcase, held in the Lithonia, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta), and the Fall Finale, held in Atlanta proper, were events where college coaches had a chance to see some quality prospects of classes as far out as 2019 from Georgia and surrounding states. Both events were held with pre-set pairings designed for college coaches' viewing rather than winning an event.
As to college coaching attendance, the Fall Finale, with a higher number of BCS prospects concentrated on a few teams, attracted numerous major division one coaches from the southeast along with plenty of mid-major division ones down to division two from the same area. The Atlanta Fall Showcase had many of the same coaches in attendance minus the BCS crowd.
Taking a look at some of the players by class...
Kenya Pye, 5-8 shooting guard, McClay High School (FL)/Southeastern Lady Blazers Red
Pye's story illustrates what is good about club basketball when too often we focus on what is wrong with the system. Prior to this past summer, she played on a local Tallahassee-area club team that did not participate in events with a more national scope of college recruiters. This season, she switched over to the Blazers' club based out of nearby South Georgia. On top of that she worked to improve her spot up three-point shooting, which has been her strong suit to start with. The result was an offer from the University of New Mexico which she has accepted. Yes, she has areas (dribble drive, handles) in her game that need improvement but she has shown that she shoots the ball well enough to deserve a chance at the next level and she believes without the greater exposure provided by the Blazers, the offer from a school on New Mexico's level probably would not have been made.
Aja Williams, 5-9, combo guard, Provine High School (MS)/Mississippi Heat
Williams is a player who was a 'hot' commodity when college recruiters saw her as a sophomore. She is long, highly athletic, handles the ball well, sees the court on the break and can drive to the basket. So what happened? The perception grew that she did not improve significantly in her junior year. The biggest knock appears to be that her outside shot is not consistent and some say she could play harder on defense. As of this past week, she had only a few low division one offers and watching her play, she deserves more looks from higher levels and may wait until late signing to weigh her decision for college. Williams still has upside and programs of at least mid major division one level looking for an athletic 2014 combo guard with size need to check her out during the upcoming high school season.
Christian Hithe, 5-7, shooting guard, Sumter High School (SC)/SC 76ers Black
Hithe is one of those players who is best described as having a high motor as demonstrated by her activity at both ends of the court. With medium build but fairly wide shoulders, she is light on her feet and has good body control in driving to the basket and finishing with contact. Hithe has decent form on her foul shot but a low release on her perimeter stroke which does not appear to be her first scoring option. How her outside shot develops may determine whether she goes to the major or mid major program at the next level.
Dominique Oden, 5-7, shooting guard, Marist School (GA)/FBC/Hardball Black 17U
As a basketball scout, you often go into a gym not knowing what you are going to see. Ok, so the player (Oden here) drives right to the rim scoring using above average athleticism a few times. Then she spots up and hits several threes with good form. Marking this name down, it appeared it was time for further investigation. It turns out Oden is one of the best 2016's in the FBC club and showed well playing up in age. On top of that, she is reported to be highly academic (at a school with similar reputation). Look for this player at a BCS school of high academic reputation or one of the Ivy League bent at the next level.
Mikayla Coombs, 5-8, guard/forward, Wesleyan School (GA)/FBC/Hardball Team Mo 2017
Coombs is a player that appears to be steadily improving and is now regarded as a high major prospect with ACC and SEC offers already on the table although just starting high school. She is primarily a slasher who can go left but mostly attacks going right. Her outside shot is coming along to the point where she can hit a three-ball, but she really is more of a mid-range threat. She is a good on-ball defender and perhaps even stronger in reading the passing lanes. A good student, high academic division one programs are now monitoring her as well.
Kasiyahna Kushkituah, 6-4, center, St. Francis High School (GA)/FBC/Hardball Team Mo 2017
Here is a player the high majors are already salivating over. With a big time, medium-solid build, she runs the court and handles the ball well for a post player. She is not afraid of contact either. Currently, her foul shooting needs to get better and at times she needs to finish more often around the basket. Let's remember she is just a high school freshman this year and posts often develop later than guards.
Khayla Pointer, 5-6, point guard, Holy Innocents Episcopal High School (GA)/Team Elite Pointer 2016
Pointer is the proverbial straw that stirs the drink. Having been written about previously on Full Court, her consistency of high-level point guard play (strong handles, good decisions, leadership) continues to be impressive game after game. Her on-ball defense is generally annoying to opposing ball handlers. An almost certain BCS-level recruit, her outside shot still needs to improve in both range and consistency, with most of her scoring in the quarter court now coming via drives.
Ja'lyn Reese, 5-6, point guard, Hillgrove High School (GA)/GA Pistols - Gold 2017 (Feagin)
With a lean build and good court vision, Reece quickly becomes noticeable while leading a fast break up the court. In the quarter court, she is adept at finding open teammates cutting to the basket. While she can hit the three-ball on occasion, her outside shot needs to become much more consistent. Also, her off (left) hand dribble needs strengthening. Regardless, point guards with good court vision are in relatively short supply so look for a lot of interest from division one programs down the road.
Terri Smith, 5-6, point guard, Sparkman High School (AL)/AL Southern Starz 2016
It doesn't take long to see that Smith is an above average athlete who can attack the basket. While her stroke looks at times like it needs to be more consistent in form, when she buried multiple deep three-balls, college coaches in the gym really seemed to take notice. What made this even more impressive was that she was one of the younger players on the team and certainly one with a division one future.
Sydne Wiggins, 5-9, small forward, Harrison High School (GA)/ GA Pistols - Gold 2017 (Feagin)
With a medium-thin build, one could argue that this young player needs some bulking up. What you can't argue about is her ability to get to the basket without overly forcing the action. While Wiggins can create a jump shot, her perimeter scoring is not yet option number one. While it is too early to declare Wiggins a BCS prospect, those programs need to be aware of her. With a couple of other above average freshmen reportedly headed into the Harrison High program, look for that team to move up in the Georgia prep rankings over the next few years.
Jada Rice, 6-2, power forward, Creekside Middle School (Suwanee, GA)/FBC/Hardball 2018 Young Gunz
With a medium build and wide shoulders, Rice's body just screams out 'player' as she runs the court. Currently her defense, rebounding and shot blocking are ahead of her offensive skills. While she finishes adequately near the basket, she needs to add range and game maturation to fulfill her potential as a BCS power forward down the road.
Maori Davenport, 6-1, forward, Charles Henderson Middle School (Troy, AL)/Alabama Tar Heels 2019
Still thin in build, Davenport showed fine coordination for a six-foot-plus player just entering grade seven when most players her height and age would struggle to walk and chew gum. When going to the basket, she showed good body control in traffic. She plays harder than most, willing to dive after loose balls. She also has developed timing to block shots. Obviously, she still needs to get stronger and work on her face-up shooting form. All that being said, she is advanced for her age and should be on college recruiting lists for those willing to look as far out as the 2019 class!
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