Over the past few weekends we traveled to a couple mid-south regional events -- the Elite 80 Fall League hosted by Don Brown at Carson Newman in East Tennessee and the Future Top 60 Skills Camp hosted by Armond Wilson and Tim Barnett in Louisville. Each event had numerous D1-caliber recruits but the following players are the ones that stood us to us.
Elite 80 Fall League
Brittany Tarr, 5-11 wing, Sevier County HS (TN) 2015
Brittany is a player who catches your eye as soon as she walks in the gym. With her muscular build and wide shoulders, she looks as if she is deep into her college career rather than a 16-year-old junior. She has an uncanny ability to keep rebounds that are out of her area alive by tipping them, often multiple times, to herself. She's a matchup nightmare with her ability to bully players inside with her power game or a variety of spin moves, and she's also able to step out and hit the three or blow by larger players. She will need to work on her ability to guard face-up players at the next level but with her athleticism that shouldn't be a problem.
Blake Lamb, 6-1 forward, Grainger HS (TN) 2015
Blake is another player who really poses problems for opposing defenses.She reallyuses her strength and body in the post-up game and has a wide variety of post moves to confuse even the best of defenders. While she isn't going to blow by her defender, she shoots more than 40% out to 25 feet and has a nice head fake to the one dribble pull-up. She anticipates and establishes position well, allowing her to easily outrebound more athletic posts.
Kara Stafford, 5-10 guard, Sullivan East HS (TN) 2016
This long, lanky guard can really shoot the ball, plus she has a knack for knocking down jumpers at crucial times. Probably the best part of her game is her passing, though, as she really sees the floor well and sets her teammates up for high-percentage open looks. As defenders look to run her off her shot and play her to pass the ball off the dribble, she will need to show the willingness to attack the rim to score.
Keri Ricker, 5-6 point guard, Chuckey Doak HS (TN) 2016
Keri is probably east Tennessee's best shooter no one has heard of. If she's slightly open, you might as well just go get the ball out of the net. She takes care of the ball, makes good decisions in the halfcourt, and has an uncanny ability to finish on the break. Although she is not overly athletic and lacks size, she overcomes this on defense with active, quick hands.
Karli Combs, 5-9 guard, Grainger HS (TN) 2017
Karli is another in a recent flurry of great shooters to emerge at Grainger HS, home of UT Vols' shooter Skyler McBee. Karli has deep range but what really sets her apart, especially at such a young age, is her incredibly quick release. She also showed an increasing willingness to blow by defenders for the pullup when they ran her off the line. She needs to pick up her defensive intensity, however, but that should improve with maturity.
Sydni Lollar, 5-10 guard, Greeneville MS (TN) 2018
Sydni has received a lot of attention lately and rightfully so. Seemingly every time we see her she has added a new scoring tool to her arsenal. She shoots it well, has a nice pullup, and finishes strong off the drive. Most recently she has added a floater off the dribble. We watched her post up a smaller defender, feel the double-team upon post entry, and kick to the open man for an uncontested jumper. To top it off, she was one of, if not the best, on-ball defenders in the league. She needs to add strength and weight to her frame moving forward, but is developing into this region's premier players in her class.
Taylor Lamb, 5-10 wing, Nolichucky MS (TN) 2018
Taylor is a very long, lanky athletic wing who is at her best attacking the rim and finishes seemingly no matter how much contact she encounters. She's extremely strong and aggressive for her age and imposes her will on opponents. She is showing an improving midrange game and shoots a very high percentage from the line, which is important due to her physical play. She needs to increase the range on her jumper, though, and tighten up her ballhandling to take her game to the next level but she's definitely a recruit to watch.
Sydney Pearce, 6-3 post, Gray MS (TN) 2018
True back-to-the-basket post players are few and far between these days but Sydney is one that fits the bill. She's a very strong true post player who blocks a high volume of shots and rebounds very well, especially on the defensive end. Her offensive game is a work in progress, as could be expected for a 6-3 big-bodied 13-year-old. She did show the ability to hit the 12- to 15-foot jumper, and runs the floor well for a kid her size and age.
Future Top 60 Skills Camp
Brenda Hackett, 5-9 shooting guard, Louisville Central HS (KY) 2015
Brenda has a unique nickname: "Old School Brenda." When I asked her about it, she said her friends and family called her that because she has an old-school type game. So not surprisingly, she gets out in transition and runs wide, she can guard on or off the ball, rebounds on both ends, and talks. She's also a shooter and very knowledgeable about the game.
I'Liyah Green, 6-2 Post, Male HS (KY) 2016
Green is a strong rebounder both inside and out of her area, runs the floor, and is athletic, and a good shot blocker. She will only get better as she continues to grow in the game. I'Liyah has good footwork and her ability to guard wing players surprised me the most. College coaches will love her because she knows how to find her teammates passing out of the post.
Precious Hereford, 5-10 Wing, Louisville Central HS (KY) 2017
Precious Hereford, the sleeper of the camp will be something special. Her long frame and athletic ability gave her multiple advantages in drills and full court play. She's athletic to the hoop, shoots the three, and has a nice midrange jumpshot. Can be an Arnika Brown (Christian County circa 2006)-type player as she continues to get better.
Grace Berger, 5-9, guard, St. Patrick's MS (KY) 2018
Grace is hands down one of the top combo guards in her class in the state of Kentucky. Her IQ to take what the defense gives her is way ahead of her time. As she grows and matures in the game, she will be a top recruit coming out of high school. Her AAU coach (Tim Barnett of F.O.C.U.S.) has already received multiple calls about her and this is just her first year on the exposure circuit.
Tyonne Howard, 5-4 point guard, JCTMS (KY) 2018
Tyonne Howard is a solid point guard with good court vision and a motor that doesn't stop. She takes pride in being the floor general and lockdown defender. Tyonne gets to the hoop with ease, blowing past defenders and has improved her midrange pull up jumpshot tremendously. This kid is every coach's dream ... coachable, hard worker, and a leader.
Nyah Smith, 5-7 shooting guard, Newburg MS (KY) 2019
Nyah Smith showed heart and hustle both days of the camp, with maybe comes with being the youngest in attendance. Her ability to handle the ball and make jaw-dropping plays against older, stronger and more athletic defenders was very impressive. Nyah will definitely be on colleges' radar in two years or so.