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The Hoop Dreams Elite squad out of Fayetteville, NC, enjoyed a successful summer season, but the club appears to have a very, very bright future.
“It was a wonderful summer because of the learning curve the girls followed,” said Coach Dorian Williams. “In our program, our goal is to pull the best out of each individual athlete. Because of that approach, we put each girl at her best position. We have players who are four’s or five’s for their high school team, and we play them at three because that is their natural position.
“It’s the best thing for the player, but it means they have to learn a new position. It can be frustrating at times, but in the end we had a very successful summer with kids making those transitions. A lot of coaches see success in terms of wins, but the Hoop Dreams staff views success through the development of our athletes. Now our kids have some experience at their natural positions, so we are excited about the levels they can reach in the fall and next summer. We should have a very, very good year. I think these kids will be ready for all the challenges they are going to face.”
The next step for Hoop Dreams Elite will come at the Marietta Tournament of Champions. The event will be held at the Suwanee Sports Academy complex in Marietta, just outside of Atlanta over the weekend of September 27-28.
“We’re definitely excited about playing in Marietta,” Williams said. “Every time I’ve been to a Mike White event, it has been a very well run tournament. He does a great job, and you know that the college coaches will be there watching.”
Two of the top performers for Hoops Dreams are Ona Udoh (2016, 6-4, C) and Arielle Wilson (2017, 6-5, F).
“Ona came a long way over the summer, and there is still a lot of upside there,” noted Williams. “She is a rebounding machine and she blocks a lot of shots. Arielle used to be stuck in the middle, but then we saw how well she can shoot the ball. She is a strong rebounder and a great shot blocker, but she can also shoot the three and she is a good passer.”
Bret McCormick, the analyst for the All Star Girls Report, also added his perspective. “Udoh is a great athlete who can really leap,” he said. “She is an aggressive player who can rebound, block shots and play around the basket. Wilson is a very long, athletic kid who can score inside, but she is more of a Euro type. She can face up and even shoot the three.”
While Udoh and Wilson should lead the way for Hoop Dreams this fall, Williams is also anxious to see Taylor Toney (2016, 5-10, G), A’Terria Quick (2016, 5-8, G), Chyna Cotton (2016, 6-0, W) and Alexis Johnson (2016, 6-4, F).
“They’re all good players with bright futures,” Williams said. “Taylor is a shooter who is also a great defender. A’Terria is a very talented young player who had a quadruple double in a high school game. Chyna is an outstanding athlete with an ACC-ready body, and she is learning to play on the perimeter. Alexis is a good, long player who gives us the ability to play a very tall lineup.”
“Toney is a good athlete who can shoot the three,” added McCormick. “Quick is very athletic with a strong body. She is a scorer who can get her points in different ways. Cotton is a nice athlete who is a four making her way to becoming a three. Johnson is another strong athlete. She is very active, and she can score down low.”