Combining a youthful roster and a challenging schedule can lead to serious problems, but the Illinois Evolution program is entering that gauntlet in 2015 with confidence.
“We are very excited about this year, especially with our 17U team,” said Coach Brett Love. “They are young, but they have really gelled together. They play hard and they work hard, and I think they are going to have a lot of success this summer.”
One test for the youthful Evolution will come at the Chicago Memorial Day Classic, which will be played at Bolingbrook High School. The event, which will be hosted by the All Star Girls Report staff, will be played on May 23.
The Evolution will boast impressive depth this summer, but Love did name five players who will be getting serious attention from college coaches on the travel circuit. The program leaders will be Zakiya Newsome (2017, 5-4, PG), Emoni Woods (2017, 5-5, PG), Frankie Malkin (2017, 5-10, F), Jordan Bradley (2016, 5-8, SG) and Cheyanne Stage (2016, 5-9, F).
“Zakiya is a very tough, very focused basketball player who has really developed over the last two years,” Love said. “She played on the varsity for her school as a freshman, but this year it was her team. She is a great defender, and she is a strong player who goes to the basket hard. She handles the ball well, shoots it well, and makes good decisions. Emoni is a very fast player who handles the ball very well. When she sees a gap in the defense, she will take it to the rim strong and finish. She is working hard to develop her perimeter shot.
“Frankie is a versatile player who has really progressed. She can shoot the three, she is tough inside, and she is very good from either elbow. Jordan is a nice new addition to the team who has really gelled quickly with our core group. If you leave her open, she is going to knock it down. She has a good all-around game, but her main asset is her shooting. Cheyanne is a very tough competitor who is going to get you 10 rebounds every game. She is a very physical player who will mix it up with anyone, and she will share the basketball and kick it out from the post.”
Bret McCormick, the analyst for the All Star Girls Report, also gave his insight on the top Evolution prospects.
“Newsome is a quick point guard who attacks the basket and defends well, and she can shoot the three,” McCormick said. “Woods is an ultra quick slasher who likes to take it to the rim. Malkin is an undersized four who can score inside or step out to the arc. Bradley is an athlete who understands the game, and she has nice skills, including a good shooting touch. Stage is a physical, athletic wing who can rebound out of her area.”
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