By Bob Corwin
In its fifth year, the Western PA Bruins Tip-Off Classic saw 202 teams do battle in 12 sites spread over the metropolitan area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during the weekend of April 6-8. With NCAA Division 1 coaches unable to attend, 29 mostly NCAA Division 2 schools from Pennsylvania and nearby states got to watch some quality action involving middle schoolers to rising seniors. Although most played in divisions within their own grade, some played up a year or two.
The event was sponsored by the Western PA Bruins, a club with a history dating back over 30 years! Through thick and thin, the organization has remained the preeminent club in the western portion of the Quaker State. Special kudos goes to the event organizers for providing a coaches’ packet with few rosters missing. Club coaches tend to resist turning in rosters in “dead period” events, not realizing colleges (D2) with scholarship capability plus eight national media would be in attendance.
Team of the Tournament: Team Takeover EYBL
Team Takeover EYBL (out of Maryland) won all five of its games to take the Elite Division (mostly rising seniors but could be younger). In the semi-final, Takeover defeated the Cinci Angels – Blue 57-52 in a tight game before triumphing over fellow Nike EYBL squad All Ohio Black EYBL 73-49 where Takeover’s front court dominated.
Looking at the talent...
Observations below generally were based on only one viewing. While the Elite Division was primarily tracked, talented players with D1 upside from other divisions are also listed below. Special thanks to Harry Elifson of Preferred Athlete Scouting Services who helped contribute to this report. Players below are listed alphabetically within class with height, position and club team. Where information was given, home town is listed in parenthesis.
Jakia Brown-Turner, 6-0, small forward, Team Takeover EYBL (Temple Hills, Maryland)
A lefty and likely Power 5 prospect, Brown-Turner was our pick for final’s game MVP. She led her team with 24 points on a combination of three’s (4), baseline drives and offensive rebounds.
Zia Cooke, 5-9, point guard, Sports City U (Toledo, Ohio)
Considered one of the top 2019 guards in the USA, Cooke was much of the offense (16 points) in her team’s 71-54 semi-final loss to All Ohio Black. A good athlete with size, she drives strongly but can hit outside.
Madison Greene, 5-7, point guard, West Virginia Thunder 2019 (Pickerington, Ohio)
She can shoot the three but Greene is a pass first lead guard who also defends well. One might call her heady, taking what the defense gives. She is getting Power 5 looks if not offers.
Jakia Brown-Turner of Team Takeover EYBL (PC: Bob Corwin)
Jordan Horston, 6-2, point guard, All Ohio Black (Columbus, Ohio) – Pass Tha Ball event MVP
Although her team fell 73-49 in the final to Team Takeover EYBL, Horston’s 34-point showing in defeating highly talented Sports City U (71-54) may be one of the top performances of the year. Besides her “normal” mid-range shots and scoring at the rim, she posted three triples. What makes her so special is her combination of athleticism, skill with ball and great size! Who does not want such a prospect?
Rickea Jackson, 6-3, forward, Sports City U (Detroit, Michigan)
Considered on the top prospects in the 2019 class, Jackson is a quality athlete with a sense of calm. She showed an ability to get to the rim via the drive and catching in the paint to score. Adding more shooting range may be her top priority as she has more of a perimeter (lean) build than one designed for banging in lower key.
Makenna Marisa, 5-11, shooting guard, WPA Bruins 2019 Lewandowski (McMurray, Pennsylvania)
Marisa is a player that can “grow” on you if you watch a few games. She moves well and productively without the ball. She is willing to take contact driving to the rim able to change directions some in doing so. Power 5 programs should be monitoring per progress although she needs to work on becoming more consistent shooting from the perimeter.
Jordan Horston of All Ohio Black (PC: Bob Corwin)
Aliyah Matharu, 5-7, point guard, New World (Washington, DC)
It did not take long to understand Matharu’s impact on her team. She forced a brisk tempo, penetrated with speed and passed well on the fast break. While not option one, she showed some perimeter stroke. Power 5 programs looking for an athletic, up tempo lead guard should be monitoring this player.
Jeanae Terry, 5-10, wing, 1 Nation Elite (Detroit, Michigan)
Terry has Power 5 level athleticism looking to attack at every opportunity throwing in some physicality at no extra charge! She looks to get out on the fast break, and if anything, needs to slow down a bit and not force things. She has a perimeter stroke but that is not her first choice to score.
Jumoke Adaramoye, 6-1, power forward, PA Lady Rens (Lititz, Pennsylvania)
Adaramoye gave her team a strong physical presence in the key showing the ability to rebound down low. Building shooting range should be on the agenda.
TaZiah Jenks, 6-1, forward, West Virginia Thunder 2020 (Louisville, Kentucky)
Last seen during the winter, Jenks appears to be getting better as she gets stronger. With a lanky build, she runs well, showed she can hit a three but will also venture into the key to post up for a quick hitter. Power 5 schools should be monitoring her maturation.
Madi Mace, 5-10, forward, West Virginia Thunder 2020 (Parkersburg, West Virginia)
Mace was our 10th grade finals MVP scoring 21 points in her team’s 56-51 win over the WPA Bruins 2020 Cash. Having seen her come up big in key games on last summer’s club circuit, this performance was not surprising. Mace is a bit undersized for what she does, namely play around the basket and also step out and shoot three’s. She has a couple of D1 offers. Mace should pick up more if evaluators watch her game long enough. One might term it “chronic over achievement,” something a lot of teams could use more of!
Malia Magestro, 5-8, combo guard, West Virginia Thunder 2020
Magestro showed versatility in being competent in playing either guard slot. While playing within the system, she demonstrated a decent stroke moving well on or off the ball.
Mya Murray, 6-2, power forward, WPA Bruins 2020 Cash (Uniontown, Pennsylvania)
With good size and lanky build, Murray runs well. In the paint, she showed a nice face-up stroke. She just needs to keep working on skills to fulfill what appears to be some level of Power 5 potential.
Madi Mace of West Virginia Thunder 2020 (PC: Bob Corwin)
Angel Reese, 6-2, power forward, Team Takeover EYBL (Randallstown, Maryland)
Reese just keeps impressing as her game is further along from last seen a few months ago. She can attack the basket going left (stronger hand) or right from the high post. A Power 5 prospect, her motor usually runs on high!
Madison Scott, 6-2, small forward, Team Takeover EYBL (Indian Head, Maryland)
Scott is highly athletic with a quick step and strong build. She likes to attack along the baseline. She needs to build shooting range but Power 5 schools should be monitoring her progress.
Alexia Smith, 5-8, shooting guard, All Ohio Black (Columbus, Ohio)
Smith’s game might be overlooked by some as she plays with Power 5 prospect Jordan Horston (see above) in club and high school. However, her willingness to play hard combined with her ability to shoot the ball should put her on Power 5 radar as well!
Madeline Westbeld, 6-2, forward, Angels Basketball Club - Blue (Kettering, Ohio)
With a good inside (able to post up) game plus perimeter three-point stroke and decent handles, Westbeld appears on track to head to the Power 5 (where her sister just helped Notre Dame capture the national title).
Anu Ademusayo, 6-5, center, PA Lady Rens (Lititz, Pennsylvania)
Ademusayo runs very well but is currently thin in build and raw in skills. Altering shots may be her current asset but the long-term upside is Power 5.
Shayeann Day-Wilson, 5-7, point guard, Sisters Keepers (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Here is a player who combines athleticism, handles and court vision. In the quarter-court, she looks to drive scoring or dishing. Power 5 schools should be monitoring.
Savannah Dews, 6-2, center, WPA Bruins White (Morgantown, West Virginia)
Dews runs well and showed some ability to face up in the key. At times, it appears she could play harder. Still good upside here for D1’s to monitor!
Lizzy Groetsch, 5-11, combo guard, WPA Bruins 2020 Cash (Sewickley, Pennsylvania)
Playing up a year in grade, what was most impressive about Groetsch, was her competitive nature. Filling in at point with the team’s starting lead guard out for the event, she chipped in timely baskets (decent stroke) when she sensed her team was floundering. Otherwise, she was often content to handle the ball and keep it moving. Her progress should be monitored from the Power 5 level down.
Latasha Lattimore, 6-4, power forward/center, Sisters Keepers (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Lattimore is a player with a Power 5 upside still needing to get stronger and add skills (currently mostly scoring around basket). She runs well and has good hands, even can dribble a bit.
Corinne Washington, 5-8, shooting guard, College Basketball Prospects of America HS (Leetsdale, Pennsylvania)
With a medium-solid build, Washington is relatively strong for such a young player. Athletic, she looked to attack the basket willing to go left or right. While aggressive, she still needs to work on finishing and improve her handles to protect the ball. She definitely has a Division 1 upside!
Skye Williams, 5-10, combo guard, Ohio Elite 9th grade (Orient, Ohio)
On a talented team playing up a year, Williams impressed with her ability to shoot the three off the pass. She also showed an ability to drive to the basket.
2022 – players below showed D1 potential be they not close to finished products
Alexia Mobley, 6-1, forward, Ohio Future Premier Mobley (Reynoldsburg, Ohio)
A very young player playing up two years (team was in 10th grade division), Mobley impressed with her ability to work her way into the key and post up. Still maturing physically, she showed a willingness to use either hand in finishing around the basket.
Reilly Sunday, 5-8, point guard, Western PA Bruins 8th grade Black (Moon Township, Pennsylvania)
Sunday is a creative pass first lead guard who can make simple passes look special. She drives to the basket well with either hand always looking for an open teammate with a better scoring opportunity. Like so many point guards, she needs to work on her perimeter shooting but Power 5 programs should be monitoring her progress regardless.
Emma Theodorsson, 6-0, small forward, Western PA Bruins 8 th grade Black (Moon Township, Pennsylvania)
Theodorsson is a quality, shoot-the- three-off- the-catch player with size. She runs adequately and is not afraid of contact. She needs to improve her handles some and work on shooting off the dribble but given her height at the position, Power 5 programs should be monitoring her maturation.
Ava Leroux, 6-2, power forward/center, West PA Bruins 7th grade White
Still very young and not close to filled out in body or skill, Leroux ran the court impressively for a player of her age and height. She has athletic genes as her father had a long, successful pro hockey NHL career.
Jena Shackleford, 5-10, wing, Ohio Impact (Newark, Ohio)
Sometimes, you find a talented player by accident. The Ohio Impact was on the floor before the game I heard was (correctly) “must see.” Shackleford, the coach’s daughter, impressed with her handles and ability to attack the basket going left or right. A decent athlete, she also seemed to have poise and advanced understanding as very young players go.
Tag(s): High School