- Keil Moore, ESPNHS HoopGurlz
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ORLANDO, Fla -- The ESPN RISE Girls' Showcase was held at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex on the campus of Disney World. The event saw the top eight AAU teams from last year's U13 national championships compete again for the right to play in a nationally televised game on ESPN3. As fate would have it, last year's championship matchup between the West Virginia Thunder and the Georgia Pistols was reprised for the Rise showcase championship game. Last year the Thunder pulled off the national championship as the best U13 team in the country; this year however it was the Georgia Pistols who would take the crown.
Caroline Buhr (Mishawaka, Ind.), Midwest Basketball Academy: As the game evolves and players with the paring of size and athleticism continue to use their natural ability to create mismatches for opposing defenses, it's nice to see kids develop the sound skill sets to complement this type of offensive potential. At 5 feet 11 Caroline Buhr is showing flashes of a well-developed skill set and the promise of a well-rounded offensive talent. Buhr has the size and length to essentially play both forward spots, but it is her skill set that will allow her to effectively use that size at both the "three" and the "four." She showed a good comfort level playing on the inside, especially when at the high post where she can exploit her foot speed advantage against slower defenders or go to the block and post up smaller players. When asked to play out on the wing and handle the ball, Buhr showed that she was more than capable in this department as well. She has a solid foundation for a player of her age and should continue to develop her game to take advantage of her physical skill set.
Jasmine Carter (Dacula, Ga.), Georgia Pistols: Evaluating great athletes at times can be difficult because their athleticism often can hide holes that can be found in their game from a skills perspective. Carter has the athleticism but also the polished skill set that will allow her to go far in the game of basketball. A 5-8 guard with a strong frame, Carter has the ability to create her own offense off the bounce, but can also knock down the perimeter jumper. A true combo guard, Carter showed the ability to score the ball while making sure she stayed in the flow of the offense. Carter is a solid young prospect with the potential to continue to develop as one of the better guards in the class of 2014. Continuing to become a more polished perimeter scorer as well as developing her ability to play both on and off the ball will only aid in her growth as a player.
Griffin Dempsey (Huntington, W.Va.) West Virginia Thunder: Shooters are always a difficult thing to come by in the recruiting game. A point guard who can knock down the open jumper is an added rarity. At 5-6 Dempsey of the West Virginia Thunder has the ability to do both well. On the ball she has the ability and basketball iq that allows her to run a team and get them into an offense and when a defense decides to cheat off of her and help, she is a willing shooter who will hit a spot-up jumper as well as a shot off the bounce. Getting stronger physically and continuing to develop her ability to play the point effectively will help Dempsey reach her potential.
Aliyah Gregory (Seffne, Fla.), Essence 2014: Athletic wings with upside always are intriguing. True wing scorers are hard to come by and Gregory has the potential to fill that role if she continues to develop. At 5-11 she is a fluid athlete with decent ball skills for her age. She was active on both sides of the ball making an impact wherever she could, grabbing a rebound, recovering a loose ball, or taking the ball to the basket and getting to the free throw line. Offensively she is best when attacking the basket and trying to make plays at the rim. Continuing to polish her ball handling and shooting mechanics will be points of emphasis as she develops as a player but with three years of high school left there is certainly time to put it all together.
Mychal Johnson (Huntington, W.Va.), West Virginia Thunder: Prospects often are put into "boxes" based on projected college position and physical attributes such as height, weight, and athleticism. Johnson fights the traditional mold of classifying her as either a point guard or a shooting guard, but falls into the hybrid category of a true scoring guard. At 5-8 she has all of the attributes that would make her a true combo guard, while offering the ability to find ways to create offense for herself and others. In one-on-one situations she is very comfortable putting the ball on the floor and attacking the rim driving both left and right off the bounce and has the awareness to vary her finishes depending on the help defense. This weekend Johnson, displayed the skill set to finish around the basket with floaters and pull-up jumpers, but also was equally effective playing in ball-screen situations and reading the defense. Continuing to develop physically and getting stronger will be keys for Johnson to take her game to the next level. She otherwise has shown at a young age a solid understanding of how to play the game at a high level.
Katie Powell (Duluth, Ga.), Georgia Pistols: At 6-3 Katie Powell has great size and length for a young post player. This weekend she was active on both sides of the ball using her size to control the paint defensively as she looked to block shots and rebound the basketball. As a help defender she is very good when coming over from the weakside and challenging a shot and served as a force in the Georgia Pistols' halfcourt defense. Offensively Powell seems more comfortable stretching the floor and using her perimeter shooting as weapon. Even with her size she is as capable a 3-point shooter as you will find and is comfortable making plays from both the high post as well as on the block. She will have to continue to develop her level and strength and learn to use her size to her advantage, but Powell has a lot of potential down the road.
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Keil Moore is a contributor and national recruiting analyst for ESPN HoopGurlz. He is also the Director of Scouting for the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report - a division of Peach State Basketball, Inc. Moore has been involved in the community since 2007 as a recruiting analyst and trainer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
ESPN Wide World of Sports played host to the ESPN RISE Games and featured the AAU U14 Showcase event, providing another evaluation opportunity in a busy Spring of 2011.