Bella Vista Prep, winers of the Claire Droesch Division of NIKE TOC (PC: Bob Corwin)
The 26th NIKE Tournament of Champions was held Dec. 18-21 at Legacy Sports Park on the Arizona Athletic Grounds in Mesa. The tournament consisted of seven divisions of 16 teams. Over the course of the event, 123 colleges (mostly NCAA Division 1 with some sending more than one coach) watched one or more days of the competition. In this article the Clare Droesch (non-Federation division) is featured. In other articles of this series, the Vincent Cannizzaro (top Federation) and Joe Smith (second Federation) divisions are discussed.
Droesch Division composition:
The 16 entries were a collection of many different kinds of teams with teams from Australia (two), Canada (two), New Zealand (one) and (of course) the United States represented. The Australians and New Zealand groups were here in the USA putting themselves on display for American colleges. The Canadians were school representatives. The USA teams varied from NEPSAC (prep) to academy school (concentrating on basketball) to private schools which just do not belong to National Federation of High Schools State Members or recognized State Affiliate Members.
Bella Vista College Prep (Phoenix, Arizona) 59-34 Grind Prep (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
In early December in Texas, Grind Prep defeated Bella Vista College Preparatory (referred to as Bella Vista Prep) 66-58. In Arizona, it was another day and far different story. The game was essentially over by halftime where Bella Vista led 32-17 finishing with four players in double figures. Bella Vista was led in scoring by junior guard Aiyanna Perkins (all-tournament team selectee) with 15 points. Division MVP Gal Raviv kicked in with 12 points but it was her overall activity of making good things happen throughout the tournament that won her the MVP nod. Given that international flavor of this division, it is only fitting that MVP Raviv (committed to Quinnipiac University) comes from Israel. Also vital in this win was domination of the paint where Adeang Ring (University of Central Florida commit and all-tournament selectee) was critical scoring nine points in the game but also assisting out of the high post and blocking shots.
Grind is very talented but young and not deep. You may ask how good is this Grind Academy team? In November, Duncanville (Texas) (nationally ranked in multiple polls) defeated Grind 75-72.
Perhaps a fourth game in four days wore on this young Oklahoma-based team more than its older opponent. Regardless, it was somewhat of an off-shooting day for Grind’s two future Power 5 players. Junior guard Sania Richardson post 16 points and De’Andra Minor (likely one of the top 2027 prospects as a tall athletic wing) 14 points. One might say on this day Grind was ground down.
Below is the all-tournament team for the Clare Droesch Division with players listed alphabetically, with listed height, position, graduation year, school, and state location. Special thanks to Erik Boal who served with me on the all-tournament selections committee and helped provide stats used in this article.
Gal Raviv of Bella Vista Prep, MVP of the Claire Droesch Division of NIKE TOC (PC: Bob Corwin)