The Philly Freedom Stars are beginning a very busy, very competitive summer, and they have set their sights high. One of their prime targets will be the FILA Nationals.
The FILA Nationals, which will include over 100 national teams, will be played at the Suwanee Sports Academy outside of Atlanta from July 6-8. This is one part of a series of previews for the FILA Nationals where we will highlight the outstanding programs who will be competing.
The FILA Nationals level of competition is a good fit for the Freedom Stars.
“The No. 1 thing about our team is that we’re going to play really hard,” said Coach Ryan Garner. “We also have a very versatile team. We have a lot of quickness at the guard spots, and then we have good size with mobility on the inside.
“That versatility always us to adjust when we need to, but we like to play up tempo, and we try to put pressure on you at both ends of the court.”
The key to the Freedom Stars versatility is 6-4 center Erin Garner, who is Ryan’s daughter. Erin is listed as the No. 191 recruit in the country for the Class of 2014 by the All Star Girls Report. She is being recruited by college programs from across the country, including Georgia Tech, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Syracuse and Memphis, among others.
“Erin is a very mobile, very versatile player,” Coach Garner said. “She is comfortable with her back to the basket, and she can go with her left or her right hand. She has the size to bang inside, but she can also face up and take people off the dribble. Defensively, she has very quick feet, she has a high basketball IQ, and she has great endurance.”
The Stars’ floor general is Alliya Butts, a 5-4 athlete from the Class of 2014. ASGR has Butts listed at No. 308 nationally.
“Alliya has excellent quickness, she is a great athlete, and she does a great job running the show for us,” Garner said. “She is a playmaker who sets other players up first, but she can score when the opportunity presents itself. She has a soft shooting touch, and she is a tenacious defender.”
The Stars also get major contributions from Chelsea Woods and Chanelle Perry. Woods is a 6-0 wing, and Perry is a 5-9 combo guard who is listed at No. 470 by ASGR.
“Chanelle is a very strong ball handler and passer. She just never turns the ball over,” Garner said. “She can also knock down three-pointers, and she has a good mid-range game. Chelsea is a strong, physical player who can slash to the basket. She is deceptively quick and she is a master at finishing. Chelsea can score with contact, she has good shooting range, and she is a rebounder.”
The Freedom Stars have a number of players who are being recruited by Division I programs, and they have also drawn the attention of ASGR analyst Bret McCormick.
“They always have some good prospects,” McCormick said. “Garner is a very talented, athletic, strong post player who can score inside and step outside. Butts is a lightning-quick point guard who can penetrate, but she is at her best when she is setting up other players, Perry is an attacking combo guard with three-point range and a nice mid-range game. Woods is a very strong player with a blue collar approach — she rebounds and does all the little things on the court.”