Many of the nation’s top young athletes will descend on the Hampton Roads area in coastal Virginia on April 19 for the Boo Williams Nike Invitational. College coaches also flock to the event, grading the known prospects and keeping an eye out for emerging talent.
“The Class of 2014 has plenty of strong players, but overall it is not a strong, deep class,” noted All Star Girls Report analyst Bret McCormick.”I think the best players out there this summer will mainly be from the 2014 Class, but a lot of younger players from 2015 and 2016 will be pushing their way into the spotlight this summer.”
The pre-tournament favorite at the Boo Williams event will be the Cal Sparks, who are powered by a trio of highly-regarded rising seniors. Jordin Canada is a 5-7 guard who is listed as the No. 9 prospect nationally in her class by ASGR, and LaJahna Drummer is a 6-3 forward who ranked at No. 10; and Kristen Simon is a 6-2 forward who is listed at No. 55.
“Any time you have three Top 60 players on your team, that’s going to be a strong team,” McCormick said. “Canada is one of the best point guards in the country, and she is a UCLA commit. Simon is a big strong player who gives them a talented presence in the post. Drummer is coming back from a knee injury, and hopefully she will have a good summer.”
Another contender for the title will be the All Ohio Black squad, which will feature rising seniors Kelsey Mitchell (No. 3, 5-8, G), Katherine Westbeld (No. 20, 6-1, PF), and MaKayla Waterman (No. 62, 6-1, PF).
“Mitchell is a lefty who is quick and strong. She can get to the basket, and she can hit the deep three,” McCormick said.”Westbeld is an intelligent, fundamentally sound player who can score inside and step outside. Waterman is a four-five who is a strong athlete. She injured her knee last year, and she is still working her way back.”
The DFW team will also be very strong. The Dallas team roster includes Brianna Turner (No. 4, 6-4, F) and McKenzie Calvert (No. 37, 5-9, G).
“Turner is a very skilled athlete who can compete inside and on the perimeter. Calvert is a Baylor commitment who is an explosive athlete with a great mid-range game,” McCormick said.
Two other teams who could challenge for the crown will be the Cal Storm (led by Gabby Green, 2014, No. 5, 6-2, G) and the hosts from Boo Williams (paced by JaTarie White, 2014, No. 6, 6-3, C).
A number of other teams at the event will be led by high-profile rising seniors:
* Ring City with Aliyah Huland-El (No. 44, 6-1, F)
* Philly Belles with Sierra Calhoun (No. 16, 6-1, G)
* West Coast Premier with Monique Billings (No. 17, 6-3, C)
* Georgia Metros with Nasheema Oliver (No. 36, 6-4, C)
* Tennessee Flight with Rachel Bell (No. 43, 5-10, G) and Alexa Middleton (No. 52, 5-9, G)
* Cal Swish with Cheyenne Greenhouse (No. 46, 5-11, G)
* NYC Gauchos with Zaire O’Neil (No. 49, 6-0, F)
NIKE Pre Season Rankings: 1-Cal Sparks 2-All Ohio Black 3-DFW Elite 4-Cal Storm 5-Boo Williams 6-Philly Belles 7-West Coast Premier 8-GA Metros 9-TN Flight 10-Ring City 11-NYC Gauchos 12-Cal Swish HONORABLE MENTION: Kentucky Premier, Cal Stars, North Tartan, CFE, Florida Essence, Michigan Crossover, NE Crusaders, Cy Fair, Fairfax Stars, GSB, All Iowa Attack and Spiece Gym Rats.