- Chris Hansen, ESPNHS HoopGurlz
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Though her prodigious basketball talents have been crystal clear for some time, until recently, much of the world seemed to Alexis Prince as, well, a little blurry.
The No. 14 prospect in the 2012 class wears glasses off the court and had gone without visual aid on it, until last August. What a difference a pair of contact lenses makes. Before, everything looked blurry and farther away.
"I thought the court was bigger than it was," said Prince, who is from Maitland, Fla., and plays with the Essence club girls' basketball team. "Now I can see things. Everything looks closer. When I look over at the bench, now I can see coach [Kimberly Davis-Powell]."
If Prince looks a little bigger, that's not an optical illusion. She sprouted up to a legitimate 6-foot-2 and, last weekend during the Boo Williams Nike Invitational in Hampton, Va., was used a lot nearer to the basket by Powell, who was missing post Rachel Hollivay, the No. 3 prospect in 2012. Hollivay is from Caledonia, Miss., and Florida-based Essence is appealing to grandfather her against the adjoining-states rule being instituted on the club circuit this year.
Prince says she is a willing participant in the expansion of her offense to the low boxes, so this could be an exciting summer for her. After all, she's been a long-ball specialist in spite of her inability to spy the basket very clearly.
"Theoretically, [the contacts] should help," said Prince, who still is in the process of finalizing a school list. "I have been shooting better."
The Prospect Watch
Besides the elite post, maybe the most illusive prospect out there is the dead-eyed shooter from distance. If that's the case, no player emerged from the spring evaluation weekend with faster-rising stock than Chandler Cooper of Adams, Tenn., who blistered the Boo Williams Nike Invitational for the Tennessee Flight. She's sprouted some four inches since her point-guard days with the Drake Reed club team, where she played with current Flight and Clarksville (Clarksville, Tenn.) teammate Bashaara Graves, and that's translated nicely into shooting leverage. Baylor, Cooper says, extended an offer during the tournament. Imagine her with defenses sucked in around Brittney Griner, albeit for one year. The Bears are on Cooper's recently formulated school list, along with Duke, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Purdue and UNC-Wilmington. Of that list, only Duke and Notre Dame have not yet offered. The Germantown (Md.) Lady Panthers have an exciting roster that includes as many as five major Division I prospects. The three rising senior stars, Carla Batchelor, Colleen Marshall and Faith Randolph, are the hottest commodities, according to coach Milton Kimbrough. Probably the most tantalizing of the three, Randolph has St. John's, George Mason and George Washington among her leaders, while Batchelor has St. John's and Delaware, and Marshall has St. John's, Delaware and James Mason.
Speaking of exciting rosters, the Gauchos have a loaded one. One of their more explosive players, Kahleah Copper of Philadelphia, has a list including DePaul, Florida, Georgetown, Maryland, Miami, Rutgers, Syracuse and West Virginia, among other. Another scintillating prospect, Danaejah Grant of Piscataway, N.J., has a list of Clemson, Marquette, Miami, South Florida, St. John's, Syracuse and Virginia. Alexandra Long, a 5-9 point guard from Great Falls, Va., made four 3-pointers for Hoop Magic Elite during its 16U Sponsored Division championship game against the Cincinnati Heat Premier at the Deep South Classic. Her last three tied the game with eight seconds remaining, and Hoop Magic Elite went on to claim a 41-39 victory in overtime. Long is drawing interest from Ivy League, Southern and MAAC conferences, according to coach Ronald King. Hayley Lorenzen of Iowa City, Iowa, and the U14 All Iowa Attack, has what you would call classic basketball bloodlines. The 6-foot forward's parents, Al Lorenzen and Karen Napalitano, both played at Iowa. Her stepmother, Barb Franke Lorenzen, played at Wisconsin. The Attack enjoyed a final-four finish in the U14 division of the Boo Williams Nike Invitational.
Recent college signees from Riverdale Baptist, (Front, l-to-r) Tyonna Williams, Courtney Warren, Lydia Evans, Deja Hawkins, and Lauren Chase are joined by teammates (Back) Maya Singleton, Jasmine Mungo, Auteaonna Gilmore, Erin Blane, Jonquel Jones, Jennie Simms, Kelila Atkinson.
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Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A graduate of Seattle University and Columbia University, he formerly coached girls' club basketball, was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of an online sports network, authored a basketball book for kids, has had his photography displayed at the Smithsonian Institute, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact lenses have made a world of difference on the court for Alexis Prince. But the No. 14 prospect in the class of 2012 has always seen her future quite clearly.