Top talent on display in Duncanville holiday tournament

Contributor
December 30, 2013 - 4:41pm
Ariel Atkins of Duncanville (Tex.) High School sets up for a 3-pointer during the Sandra Meadows Classic last weekend. The University of Texas-bound senior was named tournament MVP after putting up 32 points in the championship game. (Photo by Simmie Colson)

Ariel Atkins of Duncanville (Tex.) High School sets up for a 3-pointer during the Sandra Meadows Classic last weekend. The University of Texas-bound senior was named tournament MVP after putting up 32 points in the championship game. (Photo by Simmie Colson)

DUNCANVILLE, Texas- The Sandra Meadows Classic, one of the biggest tournaments held in Texas, has historically attracted not only the top teams in the state but also elite programs from across the country. This season, highly regarded Whitney Young ventured down from Chicago, putting in an impressive performance despite losing t to back-to-back Texas state champion Duncanville in the final game, 60-46. Duncanville is currently riding an 88-game winning streak and a couple of the reasons for their run of success unsurprisingly happen to be on the following tip sheet noting the outstanding players of the tournament.

2014

Ariel Atkins: 5-11 guard, Duncanville High School, Duncanville, Tex. (Texas signee) Though ranked No. 4 in her 2014 class in the Full Court Fresh 50, Ariel Atkins is arguably the best player in the country. Atkins simply makes her teammates better and can take over a game against anyone. Her acrobatic shots in the championship final left many in the crowd and on the court speechless.  The MVP of the tournament, Atkins led all scorers with 32 points in the championship game.

Tasia Foman: 5-6 guard, Duncanville High School, Duncanville, Tex. (Texas signee) Tasia Foman is undoubtedly one of the fastest guards in the state of Texas, and there isn’t a better defender. She ignited her Pantherettes in the opening quarter of the final with four steals, each of which led to baskets, and set the tempo for which Duncanville has become known. She was named outstanding defensive player of the event, but her 22 points in the final speaks volumes about her offensive firepower as well.

Taylor Brame: 5-11 forward, Whitney Young High School, Chicago, Ill. (SMU signee) Taylor Brame uses her body to her advantage on both ends of the floor. She can take players off the dribble and finish strong through contact. A good rebounder and defender, Brame can also knock down the midrange jumper.

Khaalia Hillsman: 6-5 post, Whitney Young High School, Chicago, Ill. (Texas A&M signee) The more I watched Khaalia Hillsman, the more I saw the “it” factor in her.  Hillsman caught the ball and finished well under pressure and made her presence felt on defense, but perhaps most importantly, this is a player who is currently nowhere near where she’s going to be when she realizes her full athletic potential.

Briana Turner: 6-3 forward, Manvel High School, Pearland, Tex. (Notre Dame signee) Briana Turner, who ranks No. 1 in her 2014 Class in the Full Court Fresh 50,  played all five positions during the event and at her size, the ability to handle the ball the full length of the floor, under pressure, is quite an asset. Turner, who joined Atkins on the all-tournament team, is a threat in or outside of the paint.

Rangie Bessard: 6-0 forward, Manvel High School, Pearland, Tex. (Minnesota signee)  Not only is Rangie Bessard her team’s leading three-point shooter, she is also one of the most improved players in the state. Bessard, another member of the all-tournament team, showed her ability to score in a variety of ways and was an absolute beast on the boards.

Natalie Chou headshot Natalie Chou, a Plano West (Tex.) High School sophomore and all-tournament team selection, stood out among the up-and-coming stars of the tournament. (Photo by Simmie Colson)

2015

Rakia Lane: 5-7 guard, Hall High School, Little Rock Ark. Rakia Lane's ability to blow by defenders on the court blew me away as I watched from the bleachers. This high school junior, another all-tournament team selection, can score at will and is both a great ball handler and a solid defender who hustles after everything on the floor. Another asset -- her court vision, which led to easy baskets.

Tantina Allen: 5-11 wing, Whitney Young High School, Chicago, Ill. An easy choice for outstanding offensive player of the event, Tantina Allen simply knows how to put the ball in the hoop. Hanging in the air off balance, attacking the basket or scoring from mid or deep, Allen did it all.

2016

Alexis Tolefree: 5-7 guard, Conway High School, Conway Ark.  I could work her last name into several headlines, but what impressed the most about Alexis Tolefree was her ability to finish -- against anyone. The sophomore took guards around her size to the rim for baskets with ease, but when matched up against considerably taller players, the result was pretty much the same in most cases. Tolefree also shot the ball well from everywhere on the floor, and with her speed and ball handling, she is definitely a youngster to keep an eye on.

Natalie Chou: 6-1 guard, Plano West High School, Plano, Tex.  I called this all-tournament team selection a star when she was just in eighth grade, and now as a sophomore, Natalie Chou has everyone looking. At times, her moves are absolutely indescribable (and coming from me, that should tell you something). Chou can take anyone off the dribble, and in the rare case when you think you’ve taken that away, she can drill it from everywhere imaginable.