Caya Smith (#24), Sania Richardson (#23) and Taliyah Parker of BTR 2024 (PC: Bob Corwin)
By Bob Corwin
Played July 21-22, 2019, at North Atlanta High School, WarGames 28.5 (diameter of a basketball) Atlanta gave about 70 club teams a chance to display their talents on at least one of the two days of the event (here in its second year). They were watched by 137 Division 1 coaches (about 100 colleges with some schools sending two representatives). Presented by FBC (stands for “Finest Basketball Club”), teams used the event to combine preparation for one of several major events that followed in the Atlanta area with another chance to show colleges what the players could do on the court. The event allowed the all too rare chance for teams from the Adidas, Under Armour (UAA) and Nike EYBL circuits to battle each other or square off with “independent” clubs.
FBC on display
During the two days, 13 of the 30+ FBC clubs took to the court and once again showed why FBC (based out of Atlanta, Georgia) is both the strongest and deepest club in the USA. Both FBC United Hunt (the 17U) and FBC United The Family 2023 (the 15U) would go on win a title in the UAA later in the week. What is so amazing about the FBC program is that so many of those other 11 teams have at least mid-major talent.
New names come forth
Sometimes these smaller showcase events give us the opportunity to shed light on new young players (such as the three in the photo above and discussed below) just coming on to the scene. WarGames (correct spelling for this event) 28.5 came through as well in this area.
FBC United The Family 2023, winners of the UAA 15U Division (PC: Bob Corwin)
With the July viewing period now over, three teams get my vote for the best in their respective age classes for the combined spring and summer club seasons.
Rising seniors or younger: FBC United Huntwon all but one of its games defeating Team Takeover 17U Nike EYBL (Nike EYBL champs that lost only one other game all year) in Pittsburgh and defeating all opposition in the UAA.
Rising juniors or younger: All Iowa Attack 10th Nike EYBLwon the 16U Nike EYBL without a loss in league play. The team lost twice during the year to older teams, otherwise winning (12/16 by double digits) all its age-group EYBL contests.
Rising freshmen or younger: FBC United The Family 2023won the UAA 15U against older teams with a team loaded with Power 5 prospects. They did lose once “playing up” a year at the Run for the Roses in Louisville. The team will compete in the Jr. WNBA Global Championship in August but at less than full strength due to age (must not turn 15 until September 1, 2019) requirements.
Players below (those who stood out at this event) are listed alphabetically with height, position, graduation year and club team with home town in parenthesis.
Genesis Bryant, 5-7, point guard, FBC BounceNation Jay 2020 (Jonesboro, Georgia)
A Power 5 prospect, Bryant is above average athletically with good handles and passing ability. Driving appears to be her number 1 scoring option with outside shot there but needing more consistency.
Heaven Figueroa, 5-8, guard, IEXCEL 17U PLATINUM – WALTER (Brooklyn, New York)
Like most of her team, Figueroa plays hard. A decent athlete, she showed both driving ability and perimeter stroke to beyond the arc.
Madison Hayes, 6-1, small forward, FBC United Hunt (Ooltewah, Tennessee)
Hayes likes to work the baseline attacking or pulling-up. She has good instincts as to when to do either. A high-level Power 5 prospect, the only time her team lost this year was when she was out of the lineup.
Asjah Inniss, 5-9, shooting guard, FBC Black JG (Duluth, Georgia)
Inness is an above average athlete who plays with good energy. She looks to attack the basket hoping to get to the rim or at the least shoot a floater. She is getting Power 5 looks if not offers.
Robyn Lee, 5-8, shooting guard, AL Southern Starz 2020-Bush Nike (Moss Point, Mississippi)
Lee plays with a high motor looking to get out on the break. In the quarter-court, she looks to get to the rim or shoot a mid-range shot. Word in the gym appeared to be that building shooting range (particularly the three) should be a priority.
Destinee Wells, 5-7, point guard, AL Southern Starz 2020-Bush Nike (Lakeland, Tennessee)
Wells has good basketball IQ and looks to penetrate to score getting to the rim or dishing off. She defends more than adequately.
Takia Davis, 6-1, power forward/center, FBC Black JG (Edison, Georgia)
Davis scores close to the rim and may be a bit undersized by Power 5 standards. However, she embraces physical play, not shying away from contact.
Elizabeth Groetsch, 5-11, point guard, WPA Bruins 17u Lewandowski (Sewickley, Pennsylvania)
Groetsch is a grinder as point guards go. Nothing flashy! Just get to the rim and take contact as necessary! Her height helps the upside.
Aaliyah Gayles, 5-9, point guard, Vegas United 16 UA (Las Vegas, Nevada)
A Power 5 prospect, Gayles has excellent speed with the ball in the open court. In the quarter-court setting she looks to attack the basket to score going left or right. If this viewing is indicative, she needs to build shooting range.
Darianna Littlepage-Buggs, 6-0, small forward, Mavs THSS Elite (Edmond, Oklahoma)
This prospect has a hyphenated name with a game that coves a lot of ground. A good athlete, she can shoot the three, drive, hit the glass and moves well without the ball. Power 5 schools are lining up.
Aislin Malcolm, 5-10, shooting guard, Western PA Bruins UAA 2021/22 Combo – Murray (Carnegie, Pennsylvania)
Malcolm’s game seems to be progressing from the spring. Her defense seems improved as well as her passing. In this viewing, she hit multiple threes. Filling out physically should still be on the “to do” list.
Kelsey Thompson, 5-8, shooting guard, AL Southern Starz 2022-Bush Nike (Mobile, Alabama)
On a team with several Power 5 prospects, Thompson got to stand out at the event by hitting multiple threes shooting off the catch. A decent athlete, she needs to improve use of left-hand dribble.
Darianna Littlepage-Buggs of Mavs THSS Elite (PC: Bob Corwin)
Allison Hoffmann, 5-8, shooting guard, A.O.T. Lady Rebels 2023 (Atlanta, Georgia)
Hofmann may not be the most athletic but makes up for it with good basketball IQ and an ability to hit the three off the catch. A nice plus is her ability to enter the ball to the post (somewhat of a lost art these days).
Judea Watkins, 6-0, shooting guard, Vegas United 16 UA (Los Angeles, California)
Watkins is considered one of the top 2023 wing players, here playing up two years. Athletic with a lean build, Watkins appeared most comfortable in an open court setting. For her size and age, she handles the ball well and has hang time going to the rim. Adding shooting range might be something to work on.
Mikaylah Williams, 5-11, small forward, Mavs Elite 2023 (Bossier City, Louisiana)
Williams is advanced for her age with ability to spot up for threes but also can drive to the rim. She plays with good energy. Needing to strengthen use of left hand, Power 5 schools should be monitoring her maturation.
Judea Watkins (#12) and Aaliyah Gayles of Vegas United 16 UA (PC: Bob Corwin)
Jaloni Cambridge, 5-5, point guard, FBC United The Family 2023 (Nashville, Tennessee)
Cambridge was injured when the team played in Alabama in May. The word on her is that she is one of the top point guards in the 2024 class and she did not disappoint at WarGames. She is strong in the areas of IQ, handles, court vision and has a nice stroke to top things off. A few more inches of growth and physical maturation is all that is needed.
Taliyah Parker, 5-11, small forward, BTR 2024 (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
For a young player with athletic talent, Parker showed a nice mid range stroke. She also showed she can finish on the fast break and has shot blocking ability.
Caya Smith, 5-10, small forward, BTR 2024 (Langston, Oklahoma)
A nice athlete with long, lean build, Smith showed she could go out at a fast pace finishing on the break.
Sania Richardson, 5-3, point guard, BTR 2024 (Ada, Oklahoma)
For someone so young, Richardson showed strong, confident handles with an ability to drive left or right (right-handed) to the rim. Just grow!! All three BTR 2024 players mentioned need be monitored from Power 5 level down.
Jaloni Cambridge of FBC The Family 2023 (PC: Bob Corwin)