RICHMOND, Va. – The Southeastern Regional Nike Skills Academy brought 65 high school players from nine states to Richmond’s Trinity Episcopal School. Former NBA star and lead trainer Dee Brown, trainer Nadine Domond, Riverdale Baptist Head Coach Diane Richardson and sports broadcaster Debbie Antonelli kept the intensity level cranked up all weekend with challenging drills and motivational speeches.
The familiar faces from the 2013 class could have easily come down with a case of ‘senioritis’ since they are been participating in these types of events for years. But seasoned veterans Lexie Brown (Suwanee, Ga.), Lindsay Allen (Mitchellville, Md.), Tiffany Suarez (Miami, Fla.), Jannah Tucker (Randallstown, Md.), Lindsay Spann (Laurel, Md.) and Amanda Fioravanti (Adamstown, Md.) set the tone with their leadership, focus and maturity.
Top of the Class
If a Division I college coach could conjure up the ideal vision of a player, she would probably look like 2015 Mone’ Jones from Durham, N.C. At 6-2 she has the ability to play down low, even with her thin frame she can bang on the boards. She has the athleticism and skill to play in the high post or the wing and is confident taking 8-10 foot jump shots. Her overall maturity is what left an impression on me; she was a vocal presence during the drills encouraging other players in her group. Jones has infinite potential as a basketball player; and the work she put in this weekend showed that she has the drive to push her game to another level.
2014 5-8 Chole Jackson from Waldorf, Md. is the perfect mix of basketball prowess and natural athletic ability. A converted soccer player, Jackson can stop on a dime, change directions while moving at full speed and attack the smallest seams in the defense. She gets great vertical lift on her pull up jump shot and once she gets into the paint she is going to find a way to score the basketball. She is a tremendous on-ball defender who can defend shooters on the perimeter and harass ball handlers full court. Jackson is the type of player who can put up a double-double while making it look effortless. Keep your eye on Jackson during this summer’s club season she is primed for a breakout performance.
2014 Braysia Hicks (Yorktown, VA), Melia Garner (NC), 2015 Kiara Leslie (NC), this trio is defining a hybrid position for players that have the powerful build of a post but the perimeter skills of a guard. Their ability to score from the perimeter, drive to the basket and operate in the post is nightmare matchup.
2015s Amari Carter (Washington, DC), Chanette Hicks (Norfolk, Va.), Taylor Murray (Odenton, Md.), they all have track star speed but can also handle the ball going full throttle without missing a beat. They are explosive on offense and pesky on defense. The fact that they are all in the same class will keep us entertained for the next few years to come.
2015 Taja Cole (Richmond, Va.) – She is little taller and stronger, a natural leader with ultra-sharp handles. 2015 Alexis Robinson (Catlettsburg ,Ky.) - High Basketball I.Q. with excellent court vision, a real playmaker. 2013 Brittnay Jackson (Montgomery, Village, Md.) – Has added some nice offensive moves including a floater with either hand. 2013 Whitney Bunn (Zebulon, N.C.) - Consummate floor general who can push tempo or run half-court sets. 2014 Jaime Cherry (Cove City, N.C.) – Super-physical guard, who can wreck havoc on a defense because of her ability to attack from any angle. Breonn Hughey (Washington, DC) – Her game is maturing nicely and the lefty has developed her off-hand.
2014 Rhamat Al-Hassan( Glenarden, Md.) - Runs like a gazelle, blocks shots and has a face up game…but we may lose her to USA volleyball. 2015 De’Janae Boykin (Springdale, Md.) – Very patient with the ball, reads defenders and understands the importance of countermoves in the post. 2014 Lynee’ Belton (Clinton, Md.) - Physical presence relentless rebounder. Stonewall Jackson High School’s (Manassas, Va.) teammates 2014 6-2 Nicole Floyd and 2015 6-4 Jonquanae Cole both have college bodies and aren’t afraid to mix it up in the paint. 2013 6-3 Brionna Jones (Aberdeen, Md.). - Possesses a terrific set of hands and a deadly arsenal of low post moves that allow her to dominate her position.
2014 Mychal Johnson (Huntington, W.Va.) - Ultra smooth shooter, can stop and pull up with accuracy. 2014 Chania Ray (Alexandria, Va.) - Great range and touch from beyond the arc. 2015 Caroline Davis (Newark, Del.) – She has mastered the art of the mid-range jumper, rarely takes a bad shot. 2015 Anna Hammaker (White Sulfur Springs, W.Va.) - Crafty lefty with a knack for making tough shots when closely guarded.
2015 Gianna Smith (Norfolk, Va.) – She can score in bunches, puts pressure on the defense with her offensive activity. 2015 Marta Sneizek (McLean, Va.) – A fiery, vocal competitor who never takes a play off. 2014 Justice Swango (Virginia Beach, Va.) – At 5-3 she plays fearlessly and never backs down from the competition. 2014 Auteaonna Gilmore (Ft. Washington, Md.) – Feisty guard who is constantly in attack mode. 2014 Ariana Freeman (Manassas, Va.) – She is always a scoring threat because of her ability to get open and move without the ball.
2014 Saadia Timpton (Charlotte, N.C.) – She is starting to come into her own offensively and is comfortably taking her jump shot. 2015 Cheyenne Hooper (Lewisburg, W. Va.)– This 6-6 center was one of the hardest workers in the gym; she made an effort to utilize the new moves she learned during scrimmages. A pair of 2015 guards from North Carolina 5-10 Stephanie Watts and 5-9 Amber Richardson showed that they have all the tools to be proficient guards at the next level.