The talent-rich South Carolina 76ers program will have outstanding players in all six of their teams this summer, but one unit may stand out. The 76ers’ ninth grade team has a special group of youngsters, and they will be looking to establish their reputation at the Deep South Classic.
The 2017 Deep South Classic will be held in Raleigh, NC from April 20-23. The event, which will feature some of the finest travel teams in the nation, will be played at the Raleigh Convention Center. There will be 20 courts in the building, keeping the entire event under one roof in downtown Raleigh.
“Teams are looking for great competition, and they want to see a lot of college coaches. You know you are going to get that every year at the Deep South,” said 76ers coach Roger Wiley, who estimated that his club has competed in 10 Deep South events over the years.
When the 76ers arrive at the Convention Center, their ninth grade team will be ready to showcase remarkable athleticism, with the quartet of Loyal McQueen (5-6, PG, 2020), Ashlyn Watkins (6-2, G, 2022), Teleah Stephens (6-1, G, 2021) and Nyah Leveretter (6-2, F, 2020). All four have drawn considerable interest from major colleges, and the All Star Girls Report has Watkins at No. 1 in her class, with McQueen at No. 50, Stephens at No. 42, and Leveretter at No. 81.
“Loyal knows the game, and it’s like having a coach on the floor,” Wiley said. “Her father, Derrick, played at Wake Forest. Loyal can do it all — she is quick, she penetrates, she hits the three — but the biggest thing is her decision making. She is the consummate point guard.
“Ashlyn is an amazing young athlete who can dunk on a 10 foot rim as a seventh grader. She is very agile, she has a good jump shot, and her ball handling is coming. Ashlyn already has the competitiveness that allows her to go up against older kids.
“Teleah is an amazing shooter. Her mother, Tammy Gibson, played at NC State. Teleah handles the ball very well for her size, but the biggest thing with her is her shooting ability.
“Nyah is a wiry kid who plays with great energy. She rebounds, defends and runs the floor very well. Her shot is coming, but she already has the mentality that she’s not afraid to compete with the older kids.”