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BlueStar30 2023: Meeting the challenge!

By Bob Corwin, 09/01/23, 12:45PM PDT


PC: Bob Corwin

The 8th annual addition of BlueStar30 was held was held August 11-13 at Pacers Athletic Center in Westfield, Indiana.  The event aims to bring together elite players from rising freshmen (class of 2027) and younger classes for a combination of instruction and competition.  This year 35 invited players from all over the USA took up the challenge to prove themselves versus their peers.   From scouts’ row, at least 30 will receive Power 5 offers (many already have!).  

Some were banged but still too many wrongly said ‘no thanks!’

In this era of player entitlement down into middle school, although some invitees were nursing injuries, numerous already established players in the 2027 and 2028 classes just decided not to come. Particularly disappointing was that several never gave the event organizers indication that they were not coming as spots were still being held for them as the camp opened.   

Some may feel this experience is unnecessary as they already have multiple Division 1 high level offers.  Others probably felt travel costs (plane fare, lodging and car rental) were too high.  The event was pushed back a few days to give prospective attendees more of a break from the July evaluation period.

Why attend?

First, the obvious is that these very young players get to compete and challenge themselves on the court with and against others similar elite girls of approximately the same age.  To face this level of competition, most would either play against talented boys or significantly older girls of at least modest talent.  

Second, and perhaps most important to many of these young ladies, is the off-court experience of meeting at one time so many talented (some more talented than themselves) players who share the same desires and dreams for the future and the same pressures of being expected to perform as the elite of their local teams. 

Third, this is another chance to learn something as those working the camp are veteran high quality high school coaches and/or individuals with college coaching experience.

Fourth, most of the top scouting combines had evaluator representation at the camp.  

USA U16 Coach Dan Rolfes talking with Blue Star All-American campers (PC: Bob Corwin)

Special bonus: USA U16 Coach present 

One bonus feature of this year’s camp was the presence of USA U16 National Team Coach Dan Rolfes who recently led the team to the gold medal at this year’s FIBA Americas championship held in Mexico.  On the high school front, he coaches Incarnate Word Academy in St. Louis and has won Missouri state titles the last six awarded seasons (none given in 2020 due to Covid-19 stoppage of play) and is currently on a 100-game win streak. Coach Rolfes spoke to both the campers at BlueStar30 and the concurrent Blue Star All-American camp. During Sunday’s morning session he participated in working out the BlueStar30 players.     

No losers amongst attendees...

Those who did well should go home and feel they may have raised their stock, hopefully learned something and perhaps made a new friend or two by attending.  Those who felt they may have struggled some can go home and work on those areas needing to get better (all should be doing this!).  

Final thought...

If you are a parent or coach of a player who is lucky enough to get invited to BlueStar30, I strongly urge you to encourage the young lady to attend.  Turning down challenges is not the way to get ahead in any athletic endeavor.   Note there is no charge for camp participation itself. 

Briefly discussed below are 17 participating players who have a strong probability to get (or already have) Power 5 offers.  Most others in the camp could have been noted as well!  

Several players discussed recently in relation to other events are not mentioned even with a noteworthy performance here.

Players below are listed alphabetically within graduation class with listed height, position and high school. 


Cece Arico, 5-11, small forward, Detroit (Michigan) Country Day School 

Arico is a heady player who knows what to do and when to do it complementing better athletes.

Taylor Brown, 5-6, point guard, Ursuline Academy, Wilmington, Delaware

Brown is a quick point guard with good basketball IQ and who will likely run a major D1 team down the road.

Ja’Nyia Cunningham, 6-1, power forward, South Pointe High Schol, Rock Hill, South Carolina

Perhaps a bit undersized, Cunningham is a mobile yet a strong presence on the lower block. 

Khalia Hartwell, 6-5, center, Westside High School, Anderson, South Carolina  

Having great size, decent mobility and strong build, Hartwell can post up and face up in the key.

Ashley MacCalla, 5-11, wing, Middleton (New York) High School

MacCalla is a high-level athlete with quickness able to get to the rim against most opponents.

Avery Masters, 6-2, forward, Folsom (California) High School 

Masters is a finesse player with size able to attack the rim. 

Micah Ojo, 6-0, small forward, Princess Anne High School, Virginia Beach, Virgina

Quick for her size, Ojo has tremendous spring and length in powering to the rim. 

Qandace Samuels, 6-2, small forward, Bishop McNamara High School, Forestville, Maryland

Agile for her size, Samuels can create shots for herself and is adept at finishing left or right. 

Marley Spiers, 6-4, center, Clarksville (Tennessee) Christian School    

Strongly built with superior size, Spiers is a major presence around the rim.

Ivanna Wilson Manyacka, 6-1, forward, Bullis School, Potomac, Maryland

Strongly built, this player can hurt you from the perimeter or get to the rim and is adept at blocking shots. 

Nakhai Worthy, 6-1, small forward, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, Atlanta, Georgia 

Worthy has the power of a build associated with an interior player but the mobility and scoring punch of a perimeter player.


Justice Alexander, 6-0, wing, Concord Academy, Concord, North Carolina 

Not yet filled out, Alexander is very agile in attacking the rim from the perimeter. 

Makynli Bacon, 5-11, forward, Webb School, Bell Buckle, Tennessee

Strong but agile, Bacon is a high energy player looking to attack the rim on offensive and is a disruptor on defense.

Payton Caudle, 6-0, shooting guard, Ramay Junior High School, Fayetteville, Arkansas

For a young player, Caudle showed good basketball IQ, an ability to shoot off the catch on the perimeter and drive if the opportunity arose be she not one of the most athletic of those present.  

JaKaila Gaskin, 6-3, power forward, Northside Christian Academy, Charlotte, North Carolina

Very mobile with medium-solid frame, Gaskin showed she can finish near the rim.

Easton McCollough, 5-9, shooting guard, Farmington Middle School, Farmington, Arkansas

McCollough moved well without the ball showing nice perimeter stroke.  


Jayden McClain, 6-3, center, Ryle High School, Florence, Kentucky

Oozes athleticism, McClain can finish in close and is a shot blocker. With continued development, she will be on course to be one of top players in the 2029 class.