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In 2000, the Alabama Southern Starz program was founded with one team of nine and 10 year olds. Seventeen years later, the club has 11 teams and there are 55 former Starz currently playing collegiate basketball.
“We have come a long way,” said director Doug Bush. “Now we have kids playing in college at every level. We have players at the very top, with Mississippi State and Florida State, and we have kids in Division II, NAIA, and everywhere else.”
The next wave of Starz heading to the collegiate ranks will be showcased at the upcoming Suwanee Tournament of Champions, which will be played on July 5-8. The All Star Girls Report run event will be held at the tremendous Suwanee Sports Academy, which is located just outside of Atlanta.
“The All Star Girls Report people do such a great job with the organization of their events,” Bush noted. “Everything is going to be on time and efficient, and the venues are very good. Those things help to draw the college coaches, and quality competition.”
The Starz will be featuring stars at all levels in Suwanee, including Karleigh Sledge (6-1, F, 2018, ranked at No. 460 by ASGR), Caitlin Hose (5-9, CG, 2018, No. 347), Sania Wells (5-7, PG, 2019, No. 255) and Niarina “Tuti” Jones (5-8, CG, 2020, No. 110).
“Karleigh is super athletic, and she can be a game changer on the defensive end,” Bush said. “She is a very good rebounder, and she runs the floor very well. Karleigh can also score in the paint, or she can step out to the three-point line. Caitlin is a talented all-around player. She can really shoot the ball, but she can also create and penetrate.
“Sania is a very athletic player who can score in a lot of different ways. She can hit the three, pull up in the mid-range game, or hit the floater. She is also a very good playmaker and a tough defender.
“Tuti is a very strong athlete, and she is a coach’s daughter with a high basketball IQ. She can shoot the three, drive to the basket, or hit the pull-up, and she is an excellent passer. She is also a terror on defense. She may get her hands on more balls than any player I’ve ever coached.”