Summer Slam showcases some new faces
Article by: Bob Corwin of fullcourt.com
ATLANTA — In an era where bigger seems to be the way to go, the modestly sized Summer Slam, presented by Insider Exposure and organized by John McGraw, struck a pleasant balance between summer camp and exposure camp. Fifty-two teams competed with about 75 colleges present to check the talent at some point during the three-day event (July 25-27).
What made this smaller event at Clayton State in Georgia different from many other exposure tournaments during this July was it was run with pre-set games and teams were just playing to be seen rather than chasing a title. Most teams played four games but others, having to come late, leave early or both, played as few as one. On the second night, three all-star games were held (2013s versus each other, 2014s versus each other and a 2015 versus 2016 game which was entertaining but one-sided in favor of the older players). It was refreshing to see smiles on the faces of these young people rather than the all-business look that’s usually seen in the presence of college coaches.
As for the teams, the Miami Suns’ Team Fowles would probably be considered best present although no team champion was crowned.
Here’s a look at some of the best players present who have not been previously featured by Full Court during this summer, so thus the focus is on younger players who could be heard about in the future.
Emmonie Henderson, 6-2 power forward, Team Adidas STL (Edwardsville, IL): Henderson is a strongly built athlete who can make the game look simple as she can score in most ways possible. In the final game of the event, she went for 20+ versus Team Fowles in a losing effort. Her downside is that some days she does not finish what is often a pretty creation and then her motor can go into idle on the court for an extended period of time.
Maria Backman, 6-1 forward, New Heights (Bronx, NY): Backman, with a medium-solid build, is probably best suited to play the small forward slot but can fit at the four in some systems. She handles and passes well for her size, can drive to the hole and has a nice step-back jumper. New Heights coach Curtiz Simpson on Backman: “She is a really athletic girl. She has a good handle and excellent midrange game. She needs to get a bit more physical.”
Aisha Edwards, 5-7 combo guard, Miami Suns Team Fowles: Edwards is a solid all-around guard but as a younger player on a talent-loaded team, she often defers to her on-court elders and is not as aggressive as on her high school team. Suns’ coach Obel Cruz on Edwards: “She has a high basketball IQ for a young player. She’s a lead guard in high school but plays shooting guard for the Suns. She needs to become more consistent in knocking down the shots.”
Mychal Johnson, 5-8 point guard, WV Thunder (Proctorville, OH): A coach’s daughter, Johnson plays like one. She has a high basketball IQ, good vision and lets the game come to her. She can drive and score at midrange. She defends adequately at the other end but her three-point shot still needs to improve.
Kristina King, 6-3 forward, Lady Phoenix Elite 16U (Thomasville, NC): King has a big time medium-solid frame and is effective both behind the arc and posting up. She appears to settle for the long ball a bit too much considering how effective she can be in the paint. Lady Phoenix coach Delaney Rudd on King: “She’s long, athletic, has good 3-point range, and a left and right hand hook. She needs to hit the weight room a little harder and needs more game experience.”
Beatrice Mompremier, 6-4 center, Miami Suns Team Fowles (Miami, FL): Mompremier has been discussed previously on Full Court but her improvement over the last few months merits an update. Her motor seems to run close to high speed more often than many young posts. Cruz on Mompremier: “Defensively, she’s great already. Athletically, she runs the floor well for a big. She needs to improve most offensively but she finishes well with both hands around the basket even absorbing some contact. “
Timesha Morris, 6-2 center, BWSL Richmond (Powhatan, VA): Morris has a solid frame and is willing to use it. Her hands are good. BWSL-Richmond coach Kristin Caruso on Morris: “She’s very mobile for her size. She’s lacking experience but has amazing potential.”
Taylor Pate, 6-4 center, Pink Panther 17 (Bellwood, IL): Pate has a body and hands similar to Courtney Paris (former Oklahoma All-American). To boot she has a nice face-up stroke in the key but perhaps conditioning is a factor as she did not stay on the court for long periods of time in several viewings. Pink Panther 17 coach Kellee Robertson on Pate: “She is using the floor and her teammates better. She needs to work on her defense, staying down and not taking fakes.”
Katcia Perryman, 6-2 power forward, New Heights (Poughkeepsie NY) :This is one well-built athlete who has great ups. She needs to be more active within the offensive set and improve her range. New Heights coach Simpson on Perryman: “She can dunk the ball easily in practice and can shoot with either hand [one may think she is a lefty but isn’t]. She needs to improve decision making.”
Ariel Stephenson, 5-11 wing, BWSL – Richmond (Hopewell, VA): Stevenson has a medium athletic build and likes to drive but has a nice midrange jumper. Coach Kristin Caruso on Stephenson: “She’s a very aggressive hard worker. She can shoot it and drive [but] she needs to have more body control.”
Atyanna Gaulden, 5-6 point guard, Georgia Sparks 2015 (Ocilla GA): This was the first time most of the coaches in the Deep South saw Gaulden and she got very positive reviews. She is a big-time point guard talent who excels on the break both finishing on her own and dishing off. She needs to improve her perimeter shot and running the quarter court offense. Georgia Sparks coach Rick Jones on Gaulden: “Energy, lots of energy, attack! She’s a slasher. She’s developing a jump shot. She sees the court very well. She needs to mature on the court and know her teammates’ strengths.”
Briana Lewis, 5-4 point guard, Pink Panther 17 (Bellwood IL):This fairly diminutive lead guard has some big time handles. Being young, she appears to be adding some muscle to her frame which will combat her lack of height. She needs to work on building range over the next few years. Pink Panther 17 coach Kellee Robertson on Lewis: “She has to work on the thinking part of the game.”
Tyra Whitehead, 6-2 center, BWSL Richmond (Richmond VA): Whitehead has a trim but solid build and her face-up stroke is quite nice for a post. Caruso on Whitehead: “She’s going to be high major. She’s young and needs to get more experience. She needs to be more active in the key.”
Anna Wilson, 5-8 point guard, BWSL Richmond (Richmond VA): Wilson, a medium-built lead guard, was one of the big hits of the camp. Her game has great maturity for a player entering high school, particularly as to running her team. Unlike so many lead guards, she shoots the ball pretty well from both midrange and distance. Wilson has good athletic genes in her family as her brother is former University of Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson, recently drafted by the NFL’s Seattle franchise. Caruso on Wilson: “She’s a high major player. She has all the skills in the world. She needs to become more vocal as a point guard. “
Sydney Zambrotta, 5-8 combo guard, New Heights (North Babylon NY): Zambrotta is pretty filled out for a young player. She is primarily an off guard but can play the point. She drives going left or right (is left-handed) with some power but still needs to work on the finish. She has good vision and deep three-point range. New Heights coach Simpson on Zambrotta: “She has unlimited range. She handles and sees the court well for an off guard. She just needs maturity and to not get down on herself if she makes an error.”