It’s a special joy when your club wins one prestigious national event -- imagine how two in the same day feels.
As reported earlier here on Fullcourt.com, the Tennessee Flight won both the Nationals and Junior Divisions of the 2012 Nike Nationals July 28-31 in North Augusta, South Carolina. Twenty Nike-sponsored teams competed in the Nationals Division while 16 were in the Junior Division. The win in the Nationals Division was the third for the Flight, having previously won in 2008 and 2010.
Tennessee Flight Silver 16U 66, West Coast Premier Black 39
As one West Coast observer said shortly after this contest, Premier Black did well to get this far. Flight led 33-21 at half and things only got worse. For the game, Nina Davis led all scorers with 18 points followed by Kaela Davis with 15 and Alexa Middleton with 10, all for the Tennessee side. West Coast was led by Cheyenne Greenhouse with eight points.
BWSL 16U 60, MN North Tartan 17 53
Unlike the other semifinal, this game had some excitement to it, with several lead changes, and the score was tied at 33 at half. The Virginia side took over the game in the last six minutes, keyed by its control of the glass which got it many extra shots over the course of the game. North Tartan’s Rebekah Dahlman led all scorers with 18 points but was alone in double figures for her team. Boo Williams had more balance as Feyonda Fitzgerald had 16, Dejanae Boykin 14 and Adrienne Motley 10.
Tennessee Flight Silver 16U 68, BWSL 16U 61
After a sluggish Flight start, which saw the Virginia-based side lead for much of the first half, a 17-point outburst by Rebecca Greenwell turned the scoreboard around with Flight leading 31-27 at the break. The second half saw Flight hold BWSL at arm’s length with the differential staying within a few points of the final of seven for the game. Greenwell finished with 22 for the game according to the official scoresheet although 25 may have been the right number. Also reaching double figures for Flight were Nina Davis with 14 and Alexa Middleton with 12. Boo Williams was led by Adrienne Motley with 15 and Feyonda Fitzgerald with 14 points.
Junior Division Final
Tennessee Flight Silver 15U 62, BWSL 15U Elite 54
To its credit, this BWSL side got better over the course of the event, having lost the opening game of pool play to Cal Storm before winning five in a rwo to get to the final. Flight Silver, on the other hand, was undefeated coming into the final and had the edge in size and shooting ability. A 2-3 zone employed by the quicker BWSL slowed down the Tennessee-based side for much of the first half, though the Flight led 18-9 with 6:37 left in the first stanza. After that, Flight shots started to fall and their lead grew to 34-19 at half. Though the eventual champs became sloppy in the second half but Boo Williams never got closer than two possessions in the last minute. Keyanna Brown of BWSL led all scorers with 17 (16 in the second half) while Rachel Bell led Flight with 13 for the game.
What made the Tennessee Flight Silver 16U team so good in 2012?
Obviously it helps to start with two players (Kaela Davis and Rebecca Greenwell) involved in the USA Basketball program. Then you add in tireless blue collar workers in Nina Davis and Olivia Jones. Next you find a player like Alexa Middleton, who in a matter of weeks successfully changes positions from natural shooting guard to point when the starting point guard is lost to injury. Off the bench, you have the young (2016) Crystal Dangerfield willing to take limited minutes backing up the point rather than major minutes running a younger squad. Finally, there is Jaycee Coe (see below) coming in to bomb from the wing. Of course, good coaching is a must and you got that from Tom Insell and his staff.
Many players previously discussed in prior articles during the spring and summer played well at Nike Nationals. Below are others who deserve attention, and most -- but not necessarily all -- will wind up in Big Six programs.
A few worthy players of note from the nearby Garden City Roundball Classic (worth attending by itself) in Aiken, South Carolina are included and noted by **.
Within each class, all players are listed alphabetically.
**Alaina Coates, 6-5 center, Palmetto 76ers 2013 (Irmo SC)
Coates, the niece of former NFL great tight end Ben Coates, is a strongly built, big-time center with good hands. She has been somewhat dogged by injuries in a 2012, most recently a nagging knee.
Nia Coffey, 6-1 power forward, MN North Tartan 17 (New Hope MN)
Coffey is a lefty with a baseline to basket game. With a medium-solid frame, she is willing to go inside and fight for rebounds while still able to step out and shoot the three -- and playing hard while doing so. She has given an oral commitment to Northwestern.
Ally Disterhoft, 6-0 wing, All Iowa Attack Nike Elite (North Liberty IA)
Disterhoft, who has orally committed to Iowa, is a mistress of versatility. She can play the point but is really a wing player who can shoot the three. Primarily a driver, she is very willing to give the ball up to open teammates. In spite of a medium-thin build, she is willing to venture into the land of the giants.
Feyonda Fitzgerald, 5-7 shooting guard, BWSL 16U (Norfolk VA)
Fitzgerald was not a big name coming into the club season, but as coach Boo Williams said, “She was one of my most consistent players all summer long.” Fitzgerald, more of a driver, still needs to work on her perimeter range and get physically stronger but she has a high motor.
Antania Hayes, 6-1 forward, Michigan Crossover 17U (Detroit MI)
Hayes can be described in one word: ‘explosive.’ She likes to use her solid frame to drive along the baseline to the basket but she can also pull up along the way to shoot a jumper. For variety, she can also attack from the high post.
Roshunda Johnson, 5-7 point guard, DFW TJack Elite (Little Rock AR)
If you are looking for a big time ball-distributing point guard with a medium-solid build, Johnson could be the one. She has a high basketball IQ and if you want to criticize her, it may be that she thinks pass too much as she can shoot the ball from the perimeter as well.
Brionna Jones, 6-3 center, Fairfax Stars 16U (Havre De Grace MD)
At first glance, you might cross off this big girl as she is in need of improved conditioning. However, it is hard to stop her near the rim as many opponents at Nike Nationals would tell you. Her hands and footwork in the paint are good and she has given an oral commitment to Maryland.
Kendall Waters, 6-2 power forward, Cal Storm Team Taurasi (San Ramon CA)
In recent years, the West Coast has not been known for physical play but here is a girl who definitely is. She likes to work from the short corner and high post, often giving her team extra possessions by her work on the boards. She has committed to Cal.
**Ashley Williams, 6-1 power forward, Big South Dream Team (Covington GA)
Williams is a solidly built, powerful athlete who has spent a lot of time as a track athlete. According to her coach Guy Coleman, “Her best playing days are definitely in the future. She has not concentrated on basketball to date.”
Kenisha Bell, 5-9 wing, MN North Tartan 15 (Bloomington MN)
Bell, who has committed to Minnesota, is a nice wing athlete with perimeter stroke. Versatility is one of her strengths.
Rachel Bell 5-9 guard, Tennessee Flight Silver 15U (Cumberland Furnace TN)
Bell, an above average athlete, can be a crowd pleaser with her creative shot making off spin moves. She needs to tighten her handles and improve her decision making.
Jaycee Coe, 5-10 shooting guard, Tennessee Flight Silver 16U (Cookville TN)
Coe is a specialist in three-point shooting. For the Flight, she was like a baseball middle inning relief pitcher as she snuffed out opposition rallies with a long-range bomb or two and then returned to the bench. Expect her to do the same for a BCS school in a few years.
Taylor Rooks, 6-1 small forward, Ring City Elite 16s (Warren NJ)
With medium-solid frame, Rooks is an athletic attacker who can pull up on the way to the basket. An excellent student, she is being recruited by high academic schools (BCS and otherwise).
** Azura Stevens, 6-4 power forward, Garner Flames 16U/17U Open/Elite (Raleigh NC)
Stevens has a solid frame with wide shoulders and is very mobile in the key. She handles and faces up well at middle distance for a player of her size, and is likely one of the top players at her position in the 2014 class.
Dejanae Boykin, 6-2 forward, BWSL 16U (Springdale MD)
Already considered one of the top prospects in this class, Boykin is a solidly built but mobile forward. Advanced for her age, she did most of her scoring in the paint during this event. She handles the ball well for her size and has a midrange game but still needs to become more consistent scoring outside the key.
Kennedy Burke, 6-0 small forward, West Coast Premier 15U (Northridge CA)
Burke is a medium-built athlete with extra bounce in her step. She has a decent stroke but needs to improve her range. Sister Kody plays at N.C. State.
Taja Cole, 5-8 point guard, BWSL 15U Elite (Richmond VA)
An athletic, medium-built lefty, Cole specializes in penetration. Viewed as a major D1 point guard prospect, she needs to improve her outside shot and decision-making.
Martine Fortune, 6-3 center, NYC Gauchos 15U (Philadelphia PA)
With a strong body and good hands, this big runs well. She scores on the block and can be a shot blocker at the other end. With a young game, maturity is most needed.
**Brianna Fraser, 6-2 power forward, Epiphanny Prince Elite Demons (Brooklyn NY)
A lanky, medium-built athlete, Fraser scores primarily in the paint. Over the next few years, she needs to fill out some and add shooting range.
Aliyah Jeune, 6-0, F/G, NYC Gauchos – 16U (Westampton NJ)
A lean, medium-built athlete, Jeune is a wing shooter with three-point range. She has committed to Rutgers.
Katie Lou Samuelson, 6-3 forward, Cal Swish Black (Fullerton CA)
Here is the third of the Samuelson sisters (Bonnie at Stanford; Karlie orally committed to Stanford). Like her sisters, Katie (with medium-solid build) can shoot the three but she also can put the ball on the floor and post up. Besides normal physical maturation, she still needs to improve her handles.
Marta Sniezek, 5-8 point guard, Fairfax Stars 15U (McLean VA)
With a medium-solid frame, Sniezek is a strong penetrator who takes contact well and possesses a good basketball IQ. Her outside shot needs work with an otherwise solid game. An excellent student, look for her to aim for high academics at the next level.
T’Aire Starks, 5-10 wing, MN North Tartan 17 (Brooklyn Park MN)
In a tournament of this magnitude, it is easy for a young player playing up in age group to get overlooked. Upon closer investigation, though, it became apparent that T’Aire Starks is one talented player with a Big Six future. With a medium-solid frame, she has handles strong enough to attack versus older quality players. Besides normal maturation, she needs to work on building shooting range.
**CCoriea Foy, 5-10 wing, NC Zoom 14U (Fayetteville NC)
With a lean athletic build that is still maturing, Foy showed a nice variety of skills for a very young player. She can shoot the three as well as take the ball to the basket.
Stephanie Jones, 6-1 power forward, Fairfax Stars 15U (Havre De Grace MD)
Jones, sister of Brionna discussed above, has a medium-solid frame. Her understanding of the game (particularly in the paint), passing and finishing plays with either hand around the rim was impressive for such a young player. Her perimeter range appeared to be most in need of improvement besides normal maturation. Barring injury or loss of interest, Stephanie Jones is on course to be one of the top players coming out of the 2016 class. Playing here mostly against opponents a year or two older, she more than held her own.
Leaonna Odom, 5-11 forward, Cal Storm 15U (Los Alamitos CA)
Odom is another lean young athlete who more than anything just needs physical maturation. Here, she got out on the fast break in impressive fashion. Like other very young players, she also needs to add range to solidify her BCS future.
Joselyn Willoughby, 5-11 small forward, Ring City 15U (East Orange NJ)
More than most her age, Willoughby already has a strong body with a medium-solid frame. With above average basketball IQ, she picks her spots to drive the baseline or go down the lane with authority. Adding more perimeter range would help, however.