Thursday, September 29, 2011
If you think there packed in now, wait until late February because this could have been a Region 2 Final preview in a fall league match-up between The Woodlands and Dekaney. Here's the deal, providing both teams win their their districts, they could meet to see who represents the region in Austin. Several obstacles do stand in both teams way, including two teams from Dekaney's district, Klein Forest and Klein Collins, plus a team that was 3 points away in overtime from making it to the R2 finals last season, DeSoto
The Woodlands back-court of Page Bradley and Ashlyn Hargraves is an awesome 1-2 punch on offense as they showed against the aggressive Dekaney squad that has depth like no other team in the area
Kelsey Lang's game is steadily catching up to her 6'4 frame and that mid-range jumper is looking better and better every time I see her. The real key will be Anna Strickland who provides things that often don't appear in the box score
I mentioned Dekaney's depth however the key to how far they go will rest on the shoulders of their seniors, Shunta Nevitt and Alexis Durley who have been a part of the team through the bad, the good and now perhaps the great. Nevertheless these are two of the top teams in the area and at this stage you can't count anyone out
Actually they aren't shy off court either but many players don't like their pictures taken after a game, I get it, yet I still take them. On the court, both will play a big role in how far Dekaney goes this season.
Shunta continued to develop over the years and became a scoring threat in and outside of the paint which will play dividends as she heads to Texas Tech next season.
Who knows, maybe baby sister Kayla is really shy off the court however she is among the top 2014 players in the area and she has a legitimate chance to crack some Top 100 national lists before it's over. Even though the polls didn't show it, Dekaney is one of the top 5 teams in the area and come March, they may be marching to Austin.
I had a good chat with Concordia University's head coach Rusty Rainbolt about the talented players in Houston. He should know as he has received commitments from four, Camille Williams, Cy Woods, Brionna Chatman and Dejani Vallier, Klein Oak and Maghen Lormand of The Woodlands. This is huge for Concordia's program as well as the area as the number of players that have committed has now reached 24, which by the way is my all time favorite show. Here's a video of Coach Rainbolt
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Well so far I'm 1 out of 2 but the good new is that the Spring Fall League schedule has been tweeked a little.
5:00 1-4 (G1) 2-5 (G2)
6:00 2-7 (G1) 3-6 (G2)
7:00 1-7 (G1) 6-4 (G2)
This means you will have a Dekaney vs The Woodlands match-up at 6pm and a Klein Collins vs Cy Falls match-up at 7. Four of the top teams from our area going at it!
Alexis "Pookie" Chandler has found a new home at Cy Fair. Last season marked an end the Bobcats six year streak of making it to the Regional Final 4, whether they were in R2 or R3, they got the job done, which included two state championships and have been one of the most successful programs in the millennium. From stars like Lindsay Harding to Aubrey Cook, Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike to Cassie Peoples, this school has had some of the best players to come through this city. Without debating with anyone, Cy Falls is the best team in the district, they are going win it and have a very good chance to make it to state barring injuries. The big question is who will be the next three teams to make it to the playoffs from District 17? Cy Ranch and Cy Woods appear to be the early front runners however you just never know until the dust has settled. Cy Fair is a perfect example because many didn't know where Chandler was and now that they do, Cy Fair has a pretty good chance to make it to the playoffs once again.
In a week where so far maybe the best games haven't been played, several sophomores have caught me eye. Crystal Chidomere from Bush is one of those players as the first thing you notice is her flying down the court with hair flowing through the wind as she blows by opponents. As you continue watching, you catch a glimpse of a bona fide offensive star in the making. My first real look at point guard Gabby Odom left me feeling the same way as she has the tools to develop into something special at Lamar. Speaking of point guards, how about 6'0 Sasha Cedeno who may be in for a breakout season at Klein Oak. If it's heart and desire you need, check out Ali Doughtery at Cypress Creek because her presence will be needed almost immediately. If you are recruiting the area or need more information on these and other players, look no further! As promised, I will keep adding and updating info on players throughout the season and their careers
GPR SCOUTING SERVICE
This should be an interesting season for the Redskins as legendary Coach Barbara Meadoughs steps down. It also will mark the first time Ashley McQueen is anywhere near 100% as she enters her senior season as Lamar hopes to overtake Westside for the #2 position in HISD. When you get a new coach, you get new ideas and the new look Lamar team appears to be on the verge of something special as they came out applying pressure on both ends of the court.
Sophomore Rangie Bessard is one of the top posts in her 2013 class and as she continues to improve, so will Lamar. A burst of energy from another sophomore, point guard Gabrielle Odom, will be a big plus over the next few seasons as my old saying, "the game starts at the one", could make this a potent 1-2 combination.
Yesterday I wrote Bellaire would face their first challenge of the fall league and I would get a chance to see Coach AJ play and I was totally wrong on both. AJ "The Real Deal" Alix was out with a minor injury and will be back in a week but the Cardinals surprisingly didn't need her. Without speculating any further, it appears the Cardinals are ready to make a run as they appear to be playing with more intensity than they did last season along with playing for a purpose as their 2012 group of seniors want to go out with a bang. The game against St. Pius was close for 15 minutes however Bellaire's pressure was too much during the final 5 minutes of the half as the Cardinals never looked back and won going away.
After watching St Pius in the Bellaire Rec Fall League, it appeared they were ready to take the throne away from Westbury Christian as the best private school team in the city however they have shown they aren't even the best private school team in the BFL, Kinkaid holds that dubious honor with yet another blowout victory as Lashann Higgs and Brecca Thomas both drop over 30. On Thursday, St. Agnes plays Katy Taylor in the KFL and this weekend St. Pius is scheduled to play Westbury Christian at the Bellaire Rec and maybe, just maybe, things will start falling into place on who the top private school teams will be.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Bellaire plays their first real challenge tonight as they take on St. Pius at 8pm. Although Pius lost against Klein Forest, they looked a lot better than they did in their loss to Kinkaid. This will be interesting game for oth teams since Bellaire has yet to be challenged in their fall league. Coach AJ will be running the show from the point and I expect the Cards to come out pushing and pressing.
Last night's North Shore vs Manvel was everything I thought it would be based on the buzz afterwards and it's great to see playoff atmosphere from the fans before the season actually kicks off.
It's hard to gauge a team on how good they will be in a fall league, especially when you have several players out that are playing volleyball or doing other things.Last seasons Katy Taylor squad is a perfect example as they could have conceivably made it to at least the R3 Final 4. Although that probably won't be the case for Cy Creek, they will be in a dogfight for that final playoff spot as Cy Falls, Cy Ranch and Cy Woods are probably cinches, Creek has to beat out some other tough competition, especially a revitalized Cy Fair with the addition of Alexis Chandler. Creek played tough as they had a mixture of varsity and JV players however Jazmine Cruz and Ali Doughtery kept them swinging.
The 5'7 Cruz played a little at every position and provided relief on both ends of the floor, while Doughtery, the feisty point guard, did whatever she wanted on the offensive end and was quite impressive. Missing was 2013 GPR Top 30 Dani Fielder who also plays volleyball and should provide a boost when she returns. Also missing was a big portion of their offense from last season, Angelica Weaver and Maddy McGlammery, who both graduated and accounted for well over half the teams offense. Again, this is only fall league so we'll see how things develop.
On a night when two of the top players in the area were going head to head at Dobie, I did an about face and went to the opposite end of the spectrum to try and see some players I may not see again this season since there were JV and private school teams playing as well. One team I do plan on seeing again is Klein Oak who was on the verge of making the playoffs last season as they tied Klein for fourth place but lost whatever tiebreaker their district uses.
Leading scorer and the Panthers star player, Ana Dominguez, is a gifted 6'1 post who can score in and outside of the paint. She and guard Brionna Chatman accounted for almost half the teams points last season
Another 6'0 post, Dejani Vallier ,will have to make her presence felt on the inside if the team is to make another playoff run, just as she did last season when she led her team in rebounds, blocked shots and steals. Alicia Scott, who was absent due to volleyball, was also a key contributor as sixth man last season and may see her role change a little bit this season
Sophomore Sasha Cedeno will have a lot of club coaches drooling and promising as several intangibles are packaged in her close to 6'0 frame. She has the ability to be a next level player right now even though there is plenty of upside that appears to be untapped. These players will play a major part in Oaks chances of making an appearance in the playoffs as the first three spots are probably secured in what might be the toughest district in the area.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
The game between North Shore and Manvel should rank right up there with the Klein Collins and Cy Falls vs Dekaney match-ups I saw last week. You might think this is only fall league and it really doesn't matter however ask the players and fans what they think. The passion is definitely here, I've seen it all over this season, and it shows we are in for a great season. It will also be a season where you can expect the unexpected and if you're a Fringe fan like me, sometimes nothing will be as it seems
Manvel has the youth and if you haven't realized it yet, Jordan Hosey is only a freshman. I doubt seriously if she realizes it because she has stepped right in and made an impact but that you knew would be a "no brainer" if you've followed her over the past two seasons. This game will also mark the return of Jade Castille, the engineer behind Manvel's successful run last season to the R3 Final 4. The real match-up I'm sure many will be anticipating will be Brianna Turner vs Courtney Williams as it will also be sort of a preview of the changing of the guard, out with the old, in with the new, whatever you want to call it as Turner get's ready to take the throne once Williams leaves as the top player in the area
North Shore had major problems last week with Clear Creek, again this is the fall league and anyone that has to go against Creeks back-court will have some issues when they're on, but the maturity I've seen in Williams will go a long way for the Mustangs as her teammates feed off of her energy and encouragement
FALL LEAGUE SCHEDULE
Saturday, September 24, 2011
2012-Loryn Goodwin is an all state transfer from Temple has shown she will play an even larger role in Cy Falls attempt at a state run as she, Sedalia Ellis and Shanice Robertson will bring the heat on both ends of the floor
2013-Jaleesa Chappel of Dekaney is a superstar in track and field however she's a pretty darn good basketball player as well and that has always been the case. Against Klein Collins, she elevated her game and she has the tools to take it to another level
2014-Raven Rogers is another track and field star however she is also a raw and very athletic basketball player who compliments Brecca Thomas and Lashan Higgs so well at Kincaid that they have made a believer out of not only me but the opponents they are playing against
KNOW THE PLAYERS
Yesterday I wrote Alexis Durley would be deciding soon on her choice for college and like clockwork, she has done just that. If you've ever heard the expression, pound for pound, inch for inch, one of the best players you've seen, Durley should automatically come to mind. I labeled her "can't miss" when I first saw her in the 7th grade and as she has grown accustomed to hit the bulls-eye not only on the court, she has also done it off as the Cincinnati Bearcats have received a verbal from her. Durley is the star player for Dekaney, one of the top teams in not only the area but the state as well and don't nod on them making a run for a state title. Durley also becomes the 20th player from our area to give a commit with NLI signing day still over a month away.
Friday, September 23, 2011
How does the song go, encore do you want more? I usually make my own words up after that, probably because my versions sound better to me and as one who always favors the underdog, it will be interesting to see how far The Woodlands can go in Region 2. After upsetting Atascocita in one of their district games last season, the Highlanders made it to the E8 in R2 before running into Pflugerville. This season, they have a road map with the GPS coordinates set and in place to repeat that performance however this time they might run into another area heavy hitter from District 13. University of Denver commit Paige Bradley continues to run the offense in a smart and steady way that sometimes rattle the more athletic teams.
Ashlyn Hargraves can shoot the lights out from bta and will have help from that range in the form of Nicole Iademarco. Also, the young lady I consider the glue of the team, Anna Strickland, will continue to score and rebound from multiple positions while in the process outworking many who go against her
Kelsey Lang stands 6'4 and based on that alone,was a D1 prospect. Entering her junior year, her improved skills have elevated her to a LEGITIMATE D1 prospect and with a little more weight and muscle added, the sky is definitely the limit, not only for her but The Woodlands
The Eagles will be just fine, especially since Carol Willie has emerged as one of the top "bigs" in the city
Harvard commit Kit Metoyer will leave this city with the GPR stamp of approval as being one of my all time bomb squad members whose range starts somewhere in the parking lot outside of the gymnasium
I almost forgot to mention the move in, well actually I didn't since I've been pumping her up before her arrival. Lauryn Goodwin is an all state guard from Temple and watching the backcourt of her Ellis and Robertson perform is worth the price of admission in itself. Cy Falls ain't done, get ready for the fun!
Dekaney is one of the heavy hitters in the city even though most people in the area aren't aware of it or at least this squad wasn't given their proper credit in my "ask the public poll" on the best team in our area vote-a-thon. I don't believe there is a team as athletic in the city with this type of firepower. Shunta Nevitt has committed to Texas Tech, Alexis Durley will be committing to a D1 program to be named shortly and Brianna Taylor despite nagging injuries over the past couple of seasons has D1 written all over her as well, I know first hand because she played for me and during the time she did, she was on many national Top 100 Watch Lists and on many Top 25 programs radar
If those three weren't enough, the bright lights are all over Nevitt's younger sister, Kayla, one of GPR's Top players in Texas for the Class of 2014 but the star power keeps going. Over the years, I've noticed some kids shy or gripe about competition among teammates, I've also noticed others who embrace, work harder on their game and put themselves in a position to become next level players.
A couple of those players that have taken a dramatic jump on GPR's Class of 2013 rankings are Jaleesa Chappel and Amber Driver. Chappel is a track star, no seriously she is a TRACK STAR and her maturity on the basketball court shows every time I see her play and her 35 foot jumper with no time left on the clock against Klein Collins shows that ice water is now flowing through her veins. Driver is a sleeper and that's a big problem because while folks are concerned about the other four on the court most of the time, they should be concerned about this one off the top. Acrobatic and athletic, exciting and explosive, this young lady is going to surprise many, but with that being said, so will Dekaney.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
In what appears to be the most competitive group of teams under one roof, the SFL had all of this. Two of the three teams, Klein Collins and Dekaney, that are in what looks like the top district in the city battling down to wire and having the game decided on a 35 footer by an unlikely hero. The team that spent more time at #1 last season, Cy Falls, going head to head with Dekaney in what could be a potential state title match-up.
Then there was the match-up between Spring who have an impressive group of freshmen that have arrived and The Woodlands, a team that has to be considered one of the favorites in Region 2. Three quality games involving four of the top teams in the area was pretty good for a fall league but what was even better is watching several of the kids take their basketball IQ to another level. More on the SFL coming up.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Back in 2004, a talented group of players graduated and went on to play D1 basketball from Madison High School. That may not be a big deal nowadays however what was a big deal is they all played varsity as freshmen and all contributed right off the top when they stepped on the court in 2001. Nine years later, the same thing happened at Klein Forest, the four freshmen playing varsity that is. Madison was already the team to beat in HISD and was one of the most successful girl's basketball programs in the city. Klein Forest on the other hand hadn't even made the playoffs in girl's basketball before the "BIG THREE" arrived and if you go back and read the scouting reports I gave before the kids stepped foot on the court in high school, you will understand why I am called "The Beast With The Tip Sheets" by Houston's #1 player Courtney Williams.
I called Regina Scott a beast around the basket the first time I saw her and even though she gives me drama about taking her picture, she gives opponents even more drama on the court as her game has gone to another level. Although only 5'9, she is simply an amazing athlete that can literally jump out of the gym and her athleticism at this stage makes you wonder just how great she'll end up being. Pictured to her right in the very top photo is Jeliyah Preston who can shoot the lights out from all over the court. When she's on, not many are better in area and I'm talking about pulling up in your face baby.
6'0 Ekiyah Gray has the bloodline flowing as dad, Eric, was a great athlete from our area at Aldine High School and grandfather, Thomas Henderson, was an NBA star for many seasons, have I mentioned he was an Olympian before? Gray herself is silky smooth and sometimes does incredible things so effortlessly that only a keen eye for basketball, like mine, realizes what they are witnessing.
When you think about point guards from the class of 2014, Brooke McCarty and Cienna Rivera are the kids from the area you hear about the most however don't let the spin keep you away from Ebony Parker. Even though she plays the two in high school, she is a next level point guard and being 5'10 with a college ready body right now that can fill it up as well, all I can say is remember where you heard it from. Klein Forest was noticeably sluggish after an evening of lifting weights but turned it on when they had to and gave me a glimpse of what I already knew.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Raven and her dad Randy were all smiles after confirming that she had indeed given the nod to Texas State for next season. Burns has consistently been one of the top three point shooters in the area since her arrival at Bellaire however her game has become much more complete over the years. Now she hopes to what she has done in two of her three seasons as a Cardinal and that's to make it at least to the regional Final 4.
Brentney Branch and Taylor Longley have entered their junior year. Both were probably still still in or just out of elementary school and watching their games evolve over the years has been something. Branch has continued to improve her skills and is scoring threat from anywhere on the court while Longley, primarily known as a three point specialist early in her career, is now an all around player as well. Although their games are quite different, the similarities are there and both of these kids will to win will be a big key in how far Clear Creek paddles this season. If last nights game against North Shore was any indication, expect some big upsets from the Wildcats as this high powered offensive duo will be putting up numbers throughout the season. Several players showed promise at certain positions, some of them coming back from injuries along with one of the teams leading rebounders from last season, Amber Harris, will keep them competitive.