- Glenn Nelson, ESPNHS HoopGurlz
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Monique Smalls has her College Park High School team on a roll at 27-3 and a perfect 5-0 in district play. On Monday Smalls called Texas Tech head coach Kristy Curry to commit to the Red Raiders.
Smalls is third on her team in scoring at 12.3 points per game and has the talent to score more, but as the point guard she impacts the game in other ways. In the greater Houston area, Smalls is at or near the top in both assists and steals. Through 30 games she has 248 steals (8.3 spg) and 210 assists (7.0 apg). College Park is in the Woodlands community, which is a suburb approximately 30 miles north of downtown Houston.
Texas Tech starts a junior-college transfer in Maria Moore who will be a senior next year and will be gone when Smalls arrives giving her a chance to battle for playing time early.
Smalls plays her club ball with the Cy-Fair Shock program out of the Houston area. The team finished a great summer run in 2007 with a fourth-place finish in the ultra-competitive Nike Nationals tournament in South Carolina to end the summer circuit.
"(Smalls) is the consummate point guard with excellent ballhandling skills," said Al Coleman, the director and head coach of the Cy-Fair Shock program. "She's a very unselfish player with an incredible court presence and ability to find and distribute the basketball to her teammates. Monique is a very quick point guard able to breakdown the press and push the ball up the court. Most opposing players underestimate her quickness and range to her advantage, making her a force on defense."
Smalls will need to get a more consistent 3-point stroke to have an immediate impact at the college level. According to Coleman she is incredibly dedicated player and believes she will not only become a more consistent shooter but also be a legitimate scoring threat at the college level.
Mariah Chandler, the No. 9-ranked player in the HoopGurlz.com 2009 rankings, had surgery to repair her torn anterior crucicate ligament Wednesday. The standout forward for Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy will miss the rest of her junior season to recover and could miss some of the summer travel season as well.
The typical recovery and rehabilitation time for ACL surgery is 4-6 months. The injury is becoming almost common in girl's basketball and the surgical procedure has a high success rate. Rehabilitation is the less certain phase of the process as bodies heal at different rates and a player as explosive as Chandler will want to be 100 percent before going full speed again.
This year in the state of Washington the talk in preseason rankings was all about Auburn-Riverside. The defending 3A state champions scheduled themselves like a national contender by going to the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix and played in the top Black Bracket. The team now is 12-3 with all three losses coming at the TOC, where the Ravens went 1-3. The buzz around this 3A power has overshadowed the quiet giant in the 4A classification, Lewis and Clark.
Lewis and Clark won back-to-back state championships in the state's biggest classification. L&C is overlooked because its graduated some big-time talent the last two years with Heather Bowman, a sophomore scoring machine for Gonzaga, and last year the state tournament MVP, Katelan Redmon, who is leading the University of Washington in scoring as a freshman.
The Tigers of Lewis and Clark are a perfect 13-0. Their league is so large that they do not have enough room under the state's total game cap of 20 games to play a multi-game tournament out of the region. The team is led by a dynamic trio of Jeneva Anderson, Brittany Kennedy, and Sarah Kliewer. Kennedy is their defensive stopper, as good as any on the ball in the state, and is committed to Oregon State University. The scoring punch is provided by Anderson and Kliewer.
The Associated Press Girls Basketball Rankings for Washington were released Wednesday and after Lewis and Clark, the undefeated Vikings of Lake Stevens are ranked No. 2. Perennial state power Prarie, behind USC-bound point guard Ashley Corral, is 13-3 and No. 3. Closing out the top 10 are Skyview (15-1), Ballard (13-1), Jackson (13-1), Mead (12-2), Shadle Park (12-3) and both Moses Lake (11-3) and Mount Tahoma (12-4) are tied for ninth.
Auburn Riverside has two undefeated teams following it in the 3A rankings with Lakes (14-0) at No. 2 and Kennedy (14-0) at No. 3. Lakes also has one of the eight first-place votes. The 2A classification has Anacortes (14-0) on top and another undefeated team, Lynden Christian (15-0) leads the 1A poll.
Jasmine Hartman, an Oklahoma commit, is back to her old self after missing her junior year with a torn posterior cruciate ligament. Hartman has been an assist machine with 401 on the season in 21 games for Bellaire High School in Texas. Bellaire is 20-1 to date. The Las Vegas Review-Journal named Palo Verde junior guard Hayley Henderson the Female Athlete of the Week. The award was largely based on her performance against Duke-bound Chelsea Hopkins of Mojave. Henderson scored 13 of her 23 points in the fourth quarter leading her team to a 63-54 win.
For more in-depth coverage of women's college-basketball prospects and girl's basketball, visit HoopGurlz.com