This year's prestigious Marques Jackson Division of the Boo Williams Nike Invitational held in Hampton, Virginia, on the April 25-27 weekend was captured by the host Boo Williams Summer League (BWSL) 15U. About half the 32-team field (players entering their junior year this fall and younger) consisted of Nike-sponsored teams with the rest from independent clubs from all over the country. As such, college coaches from the all over the USA were present monitoring this event as well as the early rounds of the Nike Girls Elite Youth Basketball League involving girls entering their senior year this fall and younger.
Gold Bracket (pool winners)
Havoc City Elite-2016 56-41 Midwest Elite 15U-Yates
This was a contrast of styles if there ever was one. Havoc City is your prototype press and trap team, athletic and quick. Midwest is just the opposite with a lot of patterned half court offense. The game was a bit closer than the final score but Havoc City led by around 10 points most of the way. Midwest struggled to get into an offense, repeatedly turning the ball over versus pressure (real and after a while imagined) resulting in Havoc City points. Midwest was able to score when they got the ball into the key but that was not nearly often enough.
BWSL 15U 71-52 Miami Suns Team Larkins
BWSL's leader (Boo Williams) told me he was surprised how easy this win came about. The problem for the Suns was a lack of depth compared to a more talent BWSL team. Throughout the tournament the Suns relied heavily of its lead guard Chelsie Hall (see below) and keeping opposition scoring in check. In this contest, they just couldn't match points and were not threatening to win in the second half.
BWSL 15U 50-48 Havoc City Elite-2016
After scoring liberally in the semi-final, BWSL, like so many others before them in the event, struggled with Havoc's 2-2-1 press and half court traps. The fact that BWSL was taller and more talented (at least as to future college prospects) mattered little for most of this game where Havoc City led by five to ten points much of the time. What turned matters around in the last few minutes was the old adage 'press the pressing team'. BWSL forced a couple of errors in the closing minute to pull out the win. While disappointed in defeat, the Havoc City coaching staff deserves a lot of credit winning five of their six contests with such a small (no six footers) team but one which totally bought into the team's pressing and trapping philosophy.
Silver Bracket (second place pool finishers) - results only
Minnesota Stars 15U 37-35 North Tartan 15U
Pistols Team Elite 2016 57-51 Spiece Indy Lady Gym Rats - Red
Pistols Team Elite 2016 73-57 Minnesota Stars 15U
All-tournament Team (listed alphabetically, home town in parenthesis) from the Marques Jackson Division
Kaila Ballard, 5-9, G, 2016, BWSL 15U (Gatesville, North Carolina)
Ballard may not rank at the very top of the prospects list on a talented BWSL squad but the shooting guard's contribution to the title can't be denied. She posted double digit results (10 and 12 points respectively) in the semi-final and final games. Strongly built, she likes to attack the basket but will spot at times on the perimeter.
Bre Cera, 5-10, G, 2016, Midwest Elite U15-Yates (Mukwonago, Wisconsin)
Cera turned a lot of heads on coaches row only to be disappoint them when learning that she has already orally committed to Wisconsin-Green Bay. Primarily a driver able to go left or right, she also showed a mid-range jumper and the three-ball be they not her prime weapon. She was also very clever at dishing off when driving to the basket. Like her teammates, she took what was given.
Dana Evans, 5-4, PG, 2017, Spiece Indy Lady Gym Rats - Red (Gary, Indiana)
Speed demon with good brakes and three-ball - that might summarize this young guard. Along with above average athletic gifts, she more than not made good decisions with the ball.
Chelsie Hall, 5-7, PG, 2017, Miami Suns Team Larkins (Boca Raton, Florida)
Hall did it all for Team Larkins (sponsored by WNBA player Erlana Larkins). With her team relatively thin on talent, Hall had to protect the basketball, set up others and be one of the team's leading scorers game after game. She has above average basketball IQ, can shoot the three and will pick her spots driving to the rim.
Hannah Hedstrom, 5-9, G, 2016, North Tartan 15U (Minnetonka, Minnesota)
Hedstrom was a constant in getting her team to advance to Silver Bracket play. Primarily, she distributed the ball to her teammates. Offensively, she picked her spots for drives and spot up three's. You may recognize the name as her sister will be playing at Minnesota this coming season.
Nia Hollie, 5-11, F, 2016, Minnesota Stars 15U (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
When the Stars played, above average numbers of BCS recruiters were in attendance with Hollie one (if not the) of the prime reasons. She is a powerful penetrator but also can shoot outside. On the break, she has good court vision. Like her ability to get to the rim, her upside is high.
Daijah Jefferson, 6-1, F, 2017, BWSL 15U (Hopewell, Virginia)
Jefferson has a lot going for her. Very athletic with good 'ups', she has nice touch around the basket able to finish stick-backs in traffic. For her size, she has above average handles. She also has a nice face-up stroke.
Tyasia Moore, 5-10, F, 2016, Havoc City Elite-2016 (Washington, DC)
Moore is your prototype undersized jumper who somehow repeatedly out-leaps much taller post players. To say she 'jumps out of the gym' would be the apt description. Most importantly, she finishes around the basket as opportunity presents. On defense, she has quick hands.
Taya Robinson, 5-9, G/F, 2017, BWSL 15U (Richmond, Virginia) - MVP
Robinson's consistency in the event earned her the MVP. Most noteworthy would be her 18-point performance in the bracket semi-finals. A fine athlete who looks to drive, she doesn't just attack it, she explodes. BCS recruiters tended to be hovering around when she was on the court.
Kiara Smith, 5-8, G 2016, Havoc City Elite-2016 (District Heights, Maryland)
Smith, a lefty, typified Havoc City's players in her ability to transition from defense to offense. In the quarter court, she looked to score via penetration. Defensively she showed herself to be a quick on-ball defender.
Nausia Woolfolk, 5-10, G/F, 2016, Pistols Team Elite 2016 (Fort Valley, Georgia)
Woolfolk was one of many BCS prospects on a talented team. She has good speed with the ball and can attack the basket finishing with either hand. She can also hurt opponents spotting up on the perimeter.
Four 2018's to watch from the Marques Jackson Division
Jordyn Cambridge, 5-7, PG, 2018, Tennessee Flight Sophomores (Nashville, Tennessee)
When a player is getting major minutes playing up two years, college scouts invariably take notice. Cambridge has nice size for a lead guard and the basketball IQ to go with it. She can drive going left or right. She sees the court well on the break and has a good understanding of ball entry to the post.
Charli Collier, 6-4, C, 2018, Cy-Fair National 15U (Crosby, Texas)
It is a rare player who already has locked up a college scholarship before entering high school. Collier has already oraled to the University of Texas. After one game, it was quickly apparent that the Longhorns had made a good move. With strong body, good hands and decent feet, Collier already has a nice set of low post moves capable of finishing all around the basket.
Amira Collins, 6-3, F/C, 2018, Team Takeover 15U (LaPlata, Maryland)
Collins is no secret in DC-area club ball. With a strong enough body, she can post opponents up, face-up and showed she can step out to hit the three-ball.
Arieal Scott, 5-7, G, 2018, Spiece Indy Lady Gym Rats - Red (Oakwood, Illinois)
Scott came off the bench when viewed. However, she quickly fit into the action (always a good sign when the level of player on the court is relatively high). She showed can handle adequately when guarded and spot up successfully for three's.