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The Minnesota Stars program has been churning out tremendous basketball players like Lindsay Whalen for almost two decades. The key to the Stars’ success, however, is their focus on helping all of the their young athletes.
“Our main goal is to get the girls to the place where they need to be in college,” said Coach Mark Smith. “If they are a Division I player, we want to get them to a Division I program. If they are a Division II or Division III player, that’s where we want them to end up. We have had our share of Division I players, but this is really all about getting the girls to the right place. I am just as excited when a girl gets a Division II opportunity if that’s where she belongs.”
The talented Stars will be showcased this spring at the Deep South Classic. The 2015 Deep South Classic will be played in Raleigh, NC on April 24-26. The 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.
Leading the way for the Stars will be a talented backcourt from the Class of 2016, with 5-10 Nia Hollie on the wing, and 5-9 Kiara Russell at the point. Hollie is currently listed as the No. 30 recruit in her class nationally by the All Star Girls Report, and Russell is at No. 199 on that list.
“Nia has some wicked moves, and she is just a super, all-around athlete,” Smith said. “Kiara is lightning quick, and she can get to the hoop against anyone. She also has a nice pull-up jumper, and last year she really improved her three-point shooting.”
Analyst Bret McCormick from ASGR is obviously high on both players.
“Hollie is a great athlete, and she is very skilled. She knows the game, she has good strength and she can score in a number of ways,” McCormick said. “Russell is a very athletic lefty, and she also has good skills. She has a nice step-back jumper, and she plays well on the defensive end.”
Smith is also expecting big things from Tyrah Spencer (2016, 5-8, G) and Elizabeth Bulver (2016, 6-2, PF).
“Tyrah had a tough time last summer because she was coming back from an ACL tear. I think she will jump back on the radar this year,” the coach said. “She is a smart, quick player with very nice shooting range. Elizabeth is a strong player inside, but she also has quickness. She can take people off the dribble, and she has three-point range.”
“Spencer is an athlete who attacks the lane, she handles it well in the open court, and she can shoot the three,” added McCormick. “Bulver is a strong, aggressive player who can score inside or step out. She is a tough kid who is comfortable on the perimeter.”