NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- The Boo Williams run through the Nike Nationals came to a sudden stop in today's final as they fell to the Tennessee Flight 60 – 57. An earlier 12 point victory from Monday wasn't to be repeated by the squad from Virginia as the Tennessee Flight shot 53 percent from the field and took home the crown jewel of the summer events. Despite the loss, several Boo Williams players stood out in defeat and across the tournament. On a very deep and talented roster these are just a few of the athletes with very bright futures.
Alyssa Bennett, a 5-11 wing out of Hampton, Virginia, would be a stand out starter on virtually any other team here in Augusta. The 2009 prospect coming off the bench is a multi-talented player who makes an impact the moment she steps on the court. Her long and lean build make her effective at both ends of the floor, especially on the glass. Offensively she has the ability to create off the dribble and at the same time has the range to keep defenders honest. Defensively, she has outstanding lateral speed and a lengthy wingspan making her a tough obstacle for opposing offensive threats. She also has the skills to defend every position on the floor other than a post up center.
Five-foot-three Daniell Jackson from Drumfries, Virginia plays the point like you would want to drive a Porsche, fast. Her quickness and speed make this left hander a threat from baseline to baseline. She pushes the ball on each possession making the already difficult Boo Williams offense even a bigger challenge for opponents. What makes the 2009 guard an even larger match up problem for defenders is her ability to put the ball in the hole. Whether it's with the 3-pointer, a drive to the basket or a pull up, Jackson is a dynamic scorer. She opened the final with eight points, including two threes, in the first three minutes of the game. On the defensive end she is a quick and harassing on ball and has the ability to turn an opposing point guard several times in the full court. Size may be a question mark but it's not a factor if you can't catch her.
Five-foot-eight Ta'Shauna Rogers has an uncanny knack for knocking down shots. The Suffolk, Virginia native has one of the quickest releases in the gym this summer and her range make defenders pay for any look they might give her. With the 2009 prospect's speed she plays and forces the pace at the offensive end and sometimes leads to some interesting shot selections, including a running one hander and even an underhanded scoop in Thursday's final. At the same time she continues to drop them in from almost everywhere on the floor and opponents have to know where she's at constantly. On the other side of the ball she's a scrappy on ball defender but needs to be more active on the help side. With her quickness she could be a much better safety net for her teammates taking chances on the other side of the floor.
Elizabeth Williams, a 6-3 post from Virginia Beach, Virginia, is already an imposing presence in the paint at a young age. Her physical size may be the first thing you notice, but she'll quickly show you the athletic and basketball skills that make her one of the top 2011 prospects. As if her height wasn't enough, she gets off the floor and has great timing and anticipation. She's active in looking for the ball and flashes the middle with a huge stride creating the high low. Her perimeter shot is solid with a good stroke and the ability to convert jumpers from the elbow. Down low that same stride serves her well on the drop step and she even possesses a reaching hook that's tough to defend. On the other end she does tend to rely on her size and athleticism to get stops. She's an effective defender, but does most of her work after the catch. With her mobility and reach she should be able to keep the ball out of the middle and eliminate post options for opponents.
Mark Lewis is a columnist and national evaluator for ESPN HoopGurlz. Twice ranked as one of the top 25 assistant coaches in the game by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, he has more than 20 years of college coaching experience at Memphis State, Cincinnati, Arizona State, Western Kentucky and, most recently, Washington State. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.