FGB Ready To Defend Deep South Classic Title

Yolett McPhee-McCuin of Jacksonville and Joi Williams of Central Florida (top) will be watching the progress of FGB this spring.

Winning the 2013 Deep South Classic title in the U15 bracket marked an impressive milestone for the FGB program out of Florida. The DSC had been a important tool for FGB for a number of years.

“Once we started playing in the Deep South Classic, things changed for us,” said Coach Kenny Kalina. “The profile of our program went way up after we started playing in the Deep South Classic. Now we draw players from across the state. We have a lot of great kids in the program now. We have 14 kids who are ranked by someone in the national Top 300. That’s pretty exciting.”

The 2014 edition of the Deep South Classic will be in Raleigh, NC, on April 25-27. Now in its 17th year, the Deep South Classic annually hosts many of the nation’s elite travel teams in a field that will eclipse 200 squads, and hundreds of collegiate coaches will be on hand searching for talent. The 2014 event will mark the second year that the Deep South Classic has been held at the Raleigh Convention Center. The venue was a tremendous success in its debut last year, with all games played at one site on 18 courts, and it is in a convenient central location.

FGB will prepare for the Deep South when they host the FGB Spring Showcase on March 29-30 at Florida Southern in Lakeland, Fla. This will mark the sixth year of the Showcase, and Kalina is expecting 40 teams.
“This event is just a great way for some kids to get seen,” Kalina said. “This is a good event for kids to build some momentum before the spring evaluation period, and we have a strong field.”
Kalina’s excitement about the field for the Showcase is matched by his optimism about the team he will be taking to the Deep South Classic this year.
“From top to bottom, I think this is the strongest we have ever been,” he said. “We had a lot of success at the Deep South Classic last year, and we’re very optimistic this year. I top team is going to be very, very good. All of those kids are very good students, and our play on the inside will be better than its ever been.”
Leading the way in the paint will be 6-2 power forward Jonelle Williams and 6-2 post Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah. Williams, who is the daughter of former NFL veteran John L. Williams, is rated as the No. 223 recruit in the Class of 2015 by the All Star Girls Report. Kunaiyi-Akpanah is an African native who is still learning the finer points of the game.
 “Jonelle has great hands and she is a great finisher,” noted Kalina. “We were really lucky to add Pallas to our team last year. She has really escalated her game, and I think she will surprise a lot of people at the Deep South Classic.”
ASGR analyst Bret McCormick is also a fan of the two post players. “Williams can give a team a big, strong presence in the paint. She has good footwork, and she can score inside with either hand,” he said. “Pallas is a kid that people will be watching. She has good size and a big upside.”
In the backcourt, FGB is paced by Kiara Desamours (2015, 5-10, G, No. 118) and Keri Jewett (2015, 5-6, PG).
“Both guards are good, strong athletes,” McCormick said. “Desamours is a two-guard who can attack the basket. She is the type of player who can go coast-to-coast. Jewett has good quickness and she is an intelligent point guard. She will play good defense, and she shoots the three.”