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The Mac Irvin Fire team will be filled with talented veteran players. However, that’s only half the story for the Chicago program, because the roster will also included a host of tremendous young athletes.
“Yeah, we will be loaded this year,” said Coach Mac Irvin, with a chuckle. “We have a mix of proven, veteran players and a lot of very good young players. My job is to figure out how to bring all of that together.”
Irvin will try to solve that dilemma in Raleigh, NC, on April 25-27 at the Deep South Classic. 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.
When Irvin talks about veteran leadership, he is thinking of 2015 prospects Tanita Allen (5-10, G), Madinah Muhammad (5-9, G, rated at No. 104 by the All Star Girls Report), Kauai Bradley (6-0, F, No. 124) and Ashonti Thomas (6-4, C, No. 101).
“Tanita is our most versatile kid. She has an inside-outside game, and she has the ability to score in a variety of ways,” Irvin said. “Madinah is another very, very good scorer for us. She shoots the ball well, and she can take it to the rack. She is just a tough, hard-nosed player. Kauai is a long athlete who is a really good slasher, and she is one of the better defenders in the country. Ashonti, who is out of Kentucky, has great size, and she is one of the better post players in the country.”
That is a talented quartet, but in terms of physical ability that group is eclipsed by four Fire members from the Class of 2016. All four are rated in among the top 80 prospects in the country by ASGR. Tori McCoy (6-4, C, No. 1) is the star, but she will only be playing with the Fire part time (Irvin was uncertain whether or not McCoy would be at the Deep South Classic). McCoy will be supported by Kiara Lewis (5-8, PG, No. 13), Gabrielle Cooper (5-9, SG, No. 60) and Chardanae Hamilton (6-7, C, No. 78).
“Tori is a very talented player who deserves her ranking, and I really hope she will be with us,” Irvin said. “Kiara is an excellent point guard, Gabrielle is our long range bomber, and Chardanae has tremendous size and tremendous upside.”
ASGR analyst Bret McCormick is also anxious to watch the Fire compete at the Deep South Classic. Here is a quick look at McCormick’s viewpoint of the Fire stars:
Tanita Allen: “Tanita is an athletic combo guard with an excellent handle. She attacks the hoop well, and she has a nice pull-up jumper.”
Kauai Bradley: “Kauai is a long, explosive athlete who can really leap. She is a great defender, and on the other end she can post up or slash to the lane.”
Madinah Muhammad: “She is an athletic shooting guard who knows how to get to the basket. She can take it coast to coast, and she can hit the three.”
Ashonti Thomas: “Ashonti is another great athlete who uses her leaping ability to block shots. She can score inside, and I think she is a sleeper with a huge upside.”
Tori McCoy: “Tori is an aggressive athlete who can beat you inside or on the perimeter. The sky is the limit for her.”
Kiara Lewis: “Kiara is a smooth, quick athlete who is fundamentally sound in all phases of the game. She also has three-point range on her shot.”
Gabrielle Cooper: “She is a good athlete with deep three-point range, and she knows the game and knows how to pass the ball.”
Chardanae Hamilton: “She is a strong low block player who gives her team a real presence on the baseline. She is an excellent shot blocker and rebounder.”