Deep South Event Is “The Classic”

UCLA head coach Cori Close will be heading east to watch her future backcourt, with Recee’ Caldwell at the Deep South Classic and Jordin Canada at the Boo Williams event.

In today’s world, a series of “major” girls basketball events dot the calendar each spring.  Fifteen years ago, there was only two major event — the Deep South Classic and Boo Williams. Since 1998, the DSC has been putting unknown players on the map, and the event has helped launch the legacy for a number of elite programs.

The 2013 Deep South Classic, which will include 272 teams, will be played at the Raleigh Convention Center from April 19-21. The event will feature many of the nation’s top players and teams, and this article looks at some of the known quantities as the enter the tournament. However, you need to remember that countless “unknown” programs have emerged at the DSC over the years. In addition, this summer appears to be a year without a dominating summer team. For example, the San Antonio’s Finest team recently rolled to a 20-point victory over a very highly regarded Nike Cy Fair Elite squad in a Texas tournament.

The highest rated player in this year’s event will be A’Ja Wilson of the Palmetto (S.C.) 76ers. Wilson is a 6-5 forward who is listed as the nation’s top prospect in the Class of 2014 by the All Star Girls Report. Wilson will be complemented on the 76ers by Kaydra Duckett, a 6-0 rising senior guard who is listed at No. 35 by ASGR.

“There’s not much more to say about A’Ja Wilson. She is a 6-5 player who really has the skills to play any position on the court,” said ASGR analyst Bret McCormick. “Duckett is a strong, athletic guard who knows how to score.”

One club — AOT out of Atlanta — has four players who are rated as Top 100 prospects by the All Star Girls Report.

“Caliya Robinson (2016, No. 7, 6-3, F) is a very athletic young post player who could end up being the top player in the 2016 class,” McCormick said. “Te’a Cooper (2015, No. 8, 5-7, G) is a UNC commitment, and she is a good fit for the Tar Heels. She is very quick and she plays with pace. Ashunae Williams (2014, No. 83, 6-2, F) is an explosive athlete, and Briana Horrocks (2014, No. 85, 6-4, C) is a good low post player with a nice 15-foot shot who has committed to Purdue.”

The Mac Irvin Lady Fire program out of Illinois features a trio of highly-rated prospects — Kiara Lewis (2016, No. 12, 5-8, G), Amber Witherspoon (2014, No. 125, 6-5, C) and Khaalia Hillsman (2014, No. 174, 6-4, C).

“Lewis is a tremendous guard who is coming off a knee injury. Hopefully she will be at 100 percent,” McCormick said. “Witherspoon is an explosive athlete who has a big upside. Hillsman is a true five player who has a strong body and she can score with either hand.”

Miami Suns Fowles also has a big-time post player in Beatrice Mompremier (2015, No. 26, 6-4, C), and she is joined by Keyanna Harris (2014, No. 98, 5-11, F) and Aisha Edwards (2014, No. 113, 5-6, G).

“Mompremier is a great athlete and a great shot blocker. She might be the best post player in the class,” McCormick said. “Harris is a super athlete who can slash from the wing, and she has a strong mid-range game. Edwards is a scoring combo guard who can attack the rim and hit the three.”

The Philly Triple Threat team is powered by a pair of talented 6-1 rising senior forwards. Lauren Moses is rated at No. 18 in the class by ASGR, and G’mrice Davis is at No. 130.

“Moses is a long, athletic power forward who runs well, and I think she will have an immediate impact at Virginia,” McCormick predicted. “Davis is an unbelievable athlete, and  I think she is something of a sleeper. Davis reminds me of Kahleah Copper, who came through the Triple Threat program and is at Rutgers now.”

Some of the other teams that will enter the DSC with high expectations will be San Antonio’s Finest (led by Recee’ Caldwell, 2014, No. 7, 5-7, G, UCLA commit), Tree of Hope from Seattle (Kellie Kingma, 2014, No. 31, 5-9, G), Alabama Southern Starz (Shakayla Thomas, 2014, No. 11, 5-11, F), Bolingbrook Panthers (Nicole Ekhomu, 2016, No. 8, 5-8, G; and Jasmine Lumpkin, 2014, No. 53, 6-0, F), and FGB Elite out of Florida (Shaqquia Crockett, 2014, No. 67, 5-7, G; and Dominique Simpson, 2014, No. 74, 5-9, G).

PRE SEASON RANKINGS: 1-Palmetto 76ers 2-AOT Lady Rebels 3-Miami Suns Fowles 4-SA Finest Blue 5-Philly Triple Threat 6-Mac Irvin Lady Fire 7-Tree of Hope 8-AL Southern Starz 9-FGB Elite 10-Bolingbrook Panthers 11-Louisiana Pumas 12-Minnesota Fury 13-Rivals 14-X-Citement 15-Exodus NYC 16-SME 17-WP Celtics 18-Tennessee Team Pride 19-Rhode Island Breakers 20-KC Select 21-SC 76ers Black 22-Boston Showstoppers 23-Cincinnati Heat Premier 24- New Mexico TX Heat 25-LAFAMILIA HONORABLE MENTION: South Florida Jaguars, MN Metro Stars, WPA Bruins, Team Miller, SMAC Fowler, CT Basketball Club, Riverside Hawks Gold, Twin Cities, Lone Wolf, Mid State Magic, Houstonians, AB Future, Lady Rams, Colorado Basketball Club, GA Jaguars, MD Lady Terps, UBAVE, Colorado Premier, SE Lady Blazers, Basketball Results, Dayton Metro, NJ Sparks 2015, GA Pistols Waldrop