As expected Winter Series Session 2 raised the temperature with addition of talented teams slated to play from California, Virginia and as far as Canada all here to make a statement and take claim to a Winter Series Championship Ball. The talent pool was even deeper and the competition level was intense as there were a number of overtime games, buzzer beaters and last minute heroics throughout the weekend.
This weekend featured some of of the games future high school studs and collegiate prospects, some of which are already being tabbed as a power 5 prospects. All grade divisions featured budding stars with tons of potential, including a number of kids that I project will be recognized on multiple Top 100 list nationally as high school prospects.
YKS who pretty much owned the 7th grade division last year, reintroduced themselves in Session 2 and dominated throughout pool play eventually knocking off Team Takeover claiming the Session Two Championship. They have a three headed monster in the very talented twins 27' Mia and Kate Spain along with hybrid stud 27' Micah Ojo, who have a chemistry like none I have seen at this level. They were a play ahead all weekend and clicked on both ends.
Team Takeover is known for the size and this roster featured a big guard combination of 27' Qandace Samuels and 27' Naveah Roberson both towering at 6'2 and were very active causing havoc with their length and willingness to compete on both ends of the floor along with with the help of utility guard 27' Kai Davis making timely buckets and defense stops.
West Coast Elite popped on the seen and were strong across the board, with dominate performances on all grade levels. Their teams played a exciting uptempo style which was fun to watch as they applied pressure for 94 feet. Their 8th grade team featured six footers in 27' Ivanna Manyacka and 28' Sydney Douglas with a young PG setting the table in 28' Jennelle Solis.
Micah Ojo /YKS
Definition of versatility as she did it all in between the lines. She runs the floor like a deer, has great hands and feel off the catch as she pivots off both feet and finishes well around the rim. She can stretch the floor as she is consistent from range. She also displayed her athletic prowess as she blocked or adjusted multiple shots and jump the lanes for steals. She may be the most well rounded player in the 8th grade division, potential is through the roof.
Katie Spain / YKS
One half of the dynamic back court that gets YKS going. A very heady guard with next level IQ. Strong handle, excellent vision and her understanding when and what pass to make in certain situations is special. Very crafty and can scores on all the levels. Also effective on defense which stems from her understanding of the game as she baited opposing guards into bad passes in the press.
Mia Spain / YKS
The sniper of the Spain twins, the lefty is automatic off the catch with a smooth release and will pull from anywhere. She plays with a lot of moxie and reeks confidence, her handling ability allows her to remain calm under pressure an manipulate the defense as she dropped dime after dime. Also a heady defender with quick hands and understanding of angles as she gained multiple steals per game.
I had a chance to chat with the trio in a segment of "The Youth Movement" prior to them winning the Session 2 Championship.
Qandace Samuels / Team Takeover
I've noticed major improvement over the past couple of months with her foot work, agility and ball handling ability as she ran the point for her team with precision. She has range on her jumper and her height allowed her to get to mid area and for uncontested jumpers. She has an aggressive in your face style of play and posed her will on the defensive getting run down blocks, steals and tie ups.
Neveah Roberson / Team Takeover
A long athletic guard with quickness and strength. She plays downhill always looking to attack the gaps with explosive drives as she overpowered smaller guards. She has an array of finishes and uses her pull up and floater well. Defensively she was a menace her length allowed her to get multiple steals/deflections in the lanes and her size allowed her to defended the post players when needed.
Zoey Wasserlauf / Gauchos
This kid plays with a different feel and is fun to watch. A strong lead guard that is extremely shifty, handles strong with both hands and was tough to contain in the open court. She invites contact and manipulates defense with her eyes creating opportunities for teammates with high level assists. A solid jump shot with quick release that extends to 3 point range. She communicates well and and competes on the defensive ended as well.
Ivanna Manyacka / West Coast Elite
Elite athleticism, strength, speed and coordination infused in a 6'0 frame. At the wing position she was able to get into the lanes finishing through contact at the rim or rising for uncontested jump shot with good balance and elevation. A hybrid with extreme upside as she has touch from range, handles well and defend all positions.
Sarah Anderson / Elevate Elite
A floor general with scoring ability, the primary ball handler for her squad. At times a one woman press breaker as she played down hill attacking pressure with pressure finding teammates in transition. She got her team into their sets, showed patience and court vision creating easy opportunities. She was efficient from 3 point range and has a nice touch on her floater which she got to often.
Names To Know
-Alia Courtenay / FBC Young Guns -Tamia Dyson /YKS
-Sydney Savoury / Legends -Tanya Henson / Boo Williams
-Grace Nash / PA Comets -Julia Rina / Empire
-Ella Pepper / Bay State
Kiyari King / DPS
A athletic guard with extreme quickness and a lot of grit. The grind it out type that stays in the mix of things. She is a heady point guard that can get where she wants on the floor, she constantly put pressure on defenses as she is a willing passer with solid vision. Could be a elite defender and showed lateral quickness applying pressure on opposing guards on defensive end.
Hailey Benbow / New Jersey Gems
A reliable guard with a solid fundamental foundation and strong build. She is patient and understands the offense, she has scoring ability but seem to pick her moments to be aggressive offensively which I'd like to see more of.
Jennelle Solis / West Coast elite
This kid plays with mega confidence and can shoot it lights out, a lefty guard with elite speed. She plays with her eyes up, probing for her opportunity to pull off the dribble. She headed the defense as her teams 2-2-1 turned teams over which led to her knocking down multiple transition 3's which she did all weekend in both 7th & 8th grade divisions.
Kaitlyn Mills / West Coast elite
Another west coast guard with game, Kaitlyn had the long ball going with consistency which open up the lanes for paint touches where she used her floater or athletic finishes around the rim displaying great core strength. Good vision as well and her speed allowed to she to be effective defensively.
Taleiyah Smith / New Heights
A swiss army knife as she does a little of everything with relentless effort from jump ball to the final horn. Her defensive energy is infectious as she gained deflections and steals taking the opponent out of rythm which gets her team going in the right direction. She is a shot maker and excels in transition getting from end to end in a flash. Great body control and solid handle with a go to crossover that she used effectively to blow by defenders. One to watch
Kiera Sellers / New Heights
She may have played the point position better than anyone in Session 2. A small guard with big game, elite handle and maintains the middle of the floor well. She constantly directs traffic and attacks the lane with purpose, drawing and kicking to open shooters. Usually a pass first guard but was more aggressive getting to her floater and knocked down a few from range. Defensively she bottled guards up for 94 feet making it hard to get into their actions.
Brooklyn Stewart / Glen Arms Gladiators
A fierce competitor that was the go to for her team, she is lightning quick, handles well and was unstoppable getting into the lanes. Good passer and made solid decisions out of traps and off ball screens. She has a nice step back to create space from to get her shot off as she shot it well form 3 point range. A scrappy defender as well with quick hands and great anticipation as she turn steals into transition buckets on a number of occasions.
Taylor Stanfield / FBC Young Guns
The kid played lights out, her decision making, defensive intensity and shot making ability were all on display. What stood out was her willingness to compete and her communication skills as she directed traffic and challenged her teammates to compete. She has a textbook form and can shoot it off the dribble well with a potent step back to create space to get her shot off.
Sydney Douglas / West Coast Elite
A absolute nightmare as a 7th grader standing 6'2 with ability to play inside out with ease posses an array of skills. She was comfortable when and wherever she caught the ball, has a face up game in the mid post, ability to take smaller guards off the dribble on perimeter creating match up problems for every opponent. She rebounds well and adjusted or blocked multiple shots with out fouling. Kid has a very high ceiling.
Alana Rodriquez / Team Takeover
A relible guard with a high motor that plays with relentles effort, which creatd a lot of positive plays for her team. Good at getting into the lanes as her first step gets her to defenders hip on her way to the rack where she finished wellover and through contact.
As I watched the 5th and 6th grade divisions it was refreshing as the young ladies came to Session 2 ready to compete. I witness a number of players with a understanding of the game and individual skill sets beyond their years. Teams were running motion offenses with pace, pick and roll execution and a sheer passion to play the game of basketball from these young prospects, it safe to say the game is in good hands.
I interview two young prospects that competed two grades up and held their own in 3rd grader Madison Bravo / Castle and 5th grader Alaiya Woodard / WCE both playing a big part in their teams success. "The Youth Movement" is a series of impromptu interviews featuring young prospects that display advanced skill sets, leadership, sportsmanship and can flat out play.
32' Madison Bravo / Castle
Instantly became a fan of this kid, little NYC guard that plays with the heart and passion of a giant. She has an uncanny feel for the game and looked seasoned as she ran her squad. She executed a number of combos to get her shot off or attack the lane and uses her left hand to finish better than some high school kids. To see her display skills like feeding the post, call up screens and making the right reads was mind blowing. Remember the name
30' Alaiya Ward / West Coast Elite
A high intensity guard with enormous confidence and no fear, as she played a mjaor roll on both 6th & 7th grade teams. She caused havoc on the defensive end with her on ball pressure getting steals, jumping the passing lanes and creating tie ups on seemingly every possession. She handles the ball well, very crafty getting to the rim with a nice floater and has a solid jump shot.
30' Amber Lewis / Castle NYC
Nice size and mobility on this young post player, she runs the middle in transition, posts up showing her hands and is a good passer. She understood the task as she battle on the boards and was a anchor for the defense in the middle. As she develops better footwork more she is gonna be a menace, tons of potential.
31' Aubriana Gibbs / Sideline Cancer
Compact PG with muscular physic and strong ball skills as she pound on every dribble. Showed vision understanding where her teammates in the offense Great combination of speed and control for a youngster, utilizes her hezi's and stop and go moves as she blew by defenders. She has nice form on her jumper which will become more consistent with time.
30' Brielle Bennett / Riverside Hawks
A natural athlete, with quickness and balance, size and strength to defend all five positions. Brielle is freakishly athletic with bounce, she has a quick second jump which allowed for multiple put backs in the paint. Active defender as she is aggressive and flies all over the court.
29' Melody Vaughn / Exodus
A poised combo guard that doesn't force the issue, seemed to let things come to her. She has nice size and length with solid ball skills. A shooter with pure form and textbook follow through. She excelled in transition getting downhill and finishing in the lanes with nice touch on her floater. A heady defender as she played the passing lanes like a free safety with steals and finishes on other end.
Names to know
-30' Jaliyah Rawlisson / Sideline Cancer -30' Vivian Cummings / NY Extreme
-30' Crystal Thomas / Riverside -29' Raigan Ruffin / YKS