The Triangle Tar Heels got off to a rough start in 2015, but the North Carolina based club battled through the challenges they faced.
“We lost our starting center to an ACL injury on the first day of practice, and then we lost are second starting center during the first tournament in July,” remembered Coach Ahmad Smalls. “When you consider the players we lost, we did very well this summer.
“We had two rising ninth graders starting on the frontline in 17U. It was tough, but they really improved as the summer went on. And, our guards really did a good job of carrying the load.”
The Tar Heels will play in their final event of 2015 at the All Star Girls Report sponsored Marietta Tournament of Champions. The event, which will be played from Sept. 25-27 at the Suwanee Sports Academy outside of Atlanta, Ga., will feature some of the nation’s finest travel squads.
The Tar Heels will be led by a pair of 2018 prospects in Marietta. Alissa Smalls (5-8, PG) is the coach’s daughter and the No. 125 prospect in her class nationally according to ASGR, while Valencia Carroll (6-0, F) is a Top 250 recruit.
“We pretty much go wherever Alissa takes us,” Coach Smalls said. “She led us in scoring, assists, steals and even rebounds. She gets a lot of her points in transition, and she is very good at breaking down the defense and getting into the lane.
“Valencia is our most athletic player, but she is still a little raw. The biggest thing about Valencia is her leaping ability. We run a back-screen alley oop to her, and she gets dog gone close to the rim. She is working hard on becoming more of a wing player, and those skills are coming.”
The Tar Heels will also get a big boost from two 2019 players. Alcenia Purnell is a 5-9 two guard who is a Top 250 recruit on the ASGR list, and Cydney Johnson is a 6-1 forward who is listed at No. 160.
“Alcenia is a tenacious defender who can guard every position,” Smalls said. “She is physical, strong and athletic, and on the offensive end she attacks with no fear. She is improving her perimeter skills, and when they come she will be very, very tough to stop.
“Cydney has a very, very bright future. She was dominating with our younger team, so we moved her up, and she immediately turned a lot of heads. She is a great athlete, and she is a great compeitor. Her father played in the NFL (Charles Johnson was a receiver, mainly with the Pittsburgh Steelers), so it’s in her genes. She is a very versatile, very good defender. She can guard a post player for us, and I have yet to see a post player who can cover Cydney.”
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