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In recent years, the Maryland Team Pride program has been known for its fast-paced style. The club will have that same attacking approach in 2015, but Pride will also have impressive size.
“We have always been a very aggressive, very up tempo team that constantly applied pressure. We are going to play that way this year, but we are also really, really big, both us front and in the backcourt,” said Coach Tony Gorham. “We are generally going to run and try to speed up the game, but also have the ability to change the pace if we think that will work for us in a particular game.”
That versatility will be showcased at the 2015 Deep South Classic, which will be played in Raleigh, NC on April 24-26. The Deep South Classic, which annually features the nation’s top travel programs, will once again have the entire tournament in one facility — the tremendous Raleigh Convention Center.
Maryland Team Pride will feature impressive depth this summer. Leading the way will be a trio of talented prospects from the Class of 2016. That trio includes Nigerian newcomer Uche Ufochukwu (6-4, PF), Jaia Alexander (5-11, CG) and Deja Ford (5-10, SG).
“Uche has very raw skills because she has played very little basketball, but her athleticism is off the chain,” Gorham said. “Jaia is a prototype big body point guard. She is a super athlete, and she is super strong. She has worked hard to develop her three-point shot, and she will be much more dangerous this year. Deja is a long, very athletic wing who is a very strong defender. She is also the type of offensive player who, if you play off of her she will hit the jumper. If you step out on her, she will go right past you.”
Bret McCormick, the analyst for the All Star Girls Report, also added his perspective on the Team Pride standouts.
“Uche is a great athlete with all the physical tools, and she is working hard on her skills. She is one to watch,” McCormick said. “Alexander is a strong athlete who could play any of the perimeter positions. She is a smart player with skills and a smooth game. Ford is a quick player with a good handle. She is very good in the open court, and she has deep three-point range.”
Gorham is equally excited about the Class of 2017, which is led by Alexus King (5-8, PG), Candis Taylor (5-9, SG) and Lyrissa Deans (6-4, C).
“Alexus is a very good scoring point guard,” the coach said. “She can run the team, but she can also surprise people with her three-point shot and her ability to attack the basket. Candis is a pure shooter with great range. She can easily take a jump shot from five feet outside the arc. She is also a long athlete who is a very good defender. Lyrissa is a athletic player with a seven-foot wingspan. She is still a little raw, but she is getting used to the speed and physicality of the game.”
“King is super quick. She handles the ball, she has court vision, and she has a nice floater in the lane,” McCormick added. “Taylor is a long athlete with NBA three-point shooting range. Beans is a great athlete who runs well, and her skills are coming.”
Maryland Team Pride’s future also appears to be set. Gorham says his Class of 2018 is going to be “very special.” That unit will be led by Kennedy Fairfax (5-4, G), Asia McCray (5-10, WF) and Aisha Sheppard (5-10, WF).