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While most fans will be focused on the rising juniors and seniors this summer, the hard core observers are paying considerable attention to the younger prospects. Those hard core observers will likely spend some time watching the Lady Raptors out of Illinois.
“We have talent throughout our organization, but our U14 group is looking special,” said Coach Brant Mills. “In my opinion, that team has the top three guards in the state, and they are three of the top guards in the country.”
Those rising stars will be showcased at the Suwanee Tournament of Champions from July 5-8. The event will include 96 elite travel teams, with game being played at the Suwanee Sports Academy just outside Atlanta. The Suwanee TOC was previously called the FILA Nationals.
The Lady Raptors have four highly regarded athletes from the Class of 2018: Lamarria Johnson (5-6, CG), Makayli Vann (5-8, G), Tionne Collyer (5-7, G) and Nasia Brown (6-5, C).
“Lamarria can play the point or the two. She has a power game. She can slash to the basket, and she has a very solid jump shot,” Mills said. “Makayli is a very gifted athlete. She is just a freak of nature. Makayli can slash and finish, and she can even post people up if needed. We call Tionne ‘Silent But Deadly.’ She doesn’t talk a lot, but she is a smooth perimeter player. She shoots the three, has a nice jump shot, and she can get to the rim whenever she wants to.
“Nasia is already 6-5, and the doctors say she will probably grow about couple of inches, and she weighs about 320 pounds. She has gotten serious about the game the past year and a half, and she has dropped a lot of weight. She is a strong player down low, and she has a surprisingly good jump shot.”
All Star Girls Report analyst Bret McCormick is also anxious to see on the young Lady Raptors are developing.
“Johnson is a quick slasher with a nice pull up jumper,” McCormick said. “Vann is a great athlete. She is a great leaper who can attack the rim and use her athleticism in the lane. Collyer has a good all-around offensive game — she can score in a lot of ways. Brown gives a team a big, strong low block presence, and she is definitely a player to watch.”
The Lady Raptors’ U17 squad also has its share of quality prospects, including Patricia Albert (2015, 6-4, C), Alex Tarrant (2016, 6-0, F) and Tammy Russell (2015, 5-11, WF).
“Patricia likes to play with her back to the basket, but she is a very good athlete with a very nice jump shot,” Mills said. “She is raw, but very talented. Coaches love her size and athleticism, and she seems to get better every time out. Alex is a smooth athlete who plays bigger than 6-0. She does a great job posting up, and she is a rebounding machine. She also has a good jump shot and handle, and she plays great defense. Tammy is outstanding with her back to the basket. She is just too strong for must people. She is a great rebounder and finisher, and she is working on her perimeter game.”
“Albert is a good athlete who can score inside, and her skills on coming. We need to keep an eye on her,” McCormick added. “Tarrant is an athlete with an all-around game, inside and out, on both ends of the court. Russell is a strong player who rebounds and finishes, and she is developing her face up game.”