HAMPTON, Va. - Well, thanks to the NCAA's reduction in the number of viewing days in the spring, Friday's action was not absorbed by the hundreds of colleges coaches eager to evaluate the nation's top talent on display at the 2007 Boo Williams Invitational. Perhaps the intent is to keep kids from missing school for viewing events, but, here's a newsflash, most of the kids missed Thursday traveling and played Friday anyway.
So, really, the kids are the ones being cheated here.
Off my soapbox – and onto some of the first day's action.
Chelsea Lee of Essence
The Storm are playing without their top scoring guard Shawna-Lei Kuehu, who is still recovering from an ACL injury from this winter. But her teammates have stepped up, especially Alyssia Brewer. HoopGurlz.com has Brewer as the No. 17 player in the 2008 preliminary rankings, but Friday her ranking appeared to be a mistake and she is more like the No. 7 player in the class. Brewer's size, athleticism, smooth moves and rebounding lockdown were all on display in top 10 player form.
Both the Cal Storm-Alabama Road Runners game and the night cap, All-Ohio Black vs. Georgia Metros, should have been watched by the college coaches. They were played with a level of physical play and speed that speaks volumes to the ability of the players.
All-Ohio walked away with a big victory behind the outstanding play of some new faces on the team. Briana Green controlled the tempo, Amber Stokes was all over the place and showed off her amazing quickness in getting to the basket, Tyesha Moss made key shots with her seemingly slow but oh-so-smooth offensive repetiore and perhaps the biggest key was the contribution of Kendall Hackney. A 6-foot-2 forward, Hackney made tough shots in the lane against the Metros' big front court, then stepped out and knocked down perimeter jumpers out to three-point range. This rising sophomore is one to keep an eye on.
Chiney Ogwumike of Cy-Fair
The buzz here in Virginia is all about Saturday afternoon's big matchup between the 2008 class's top two prospects – Elena DelleDonne and April Sykes. The two players' teams are in the same pool and will square off at 3:30 p.m. for what some of those hanging around the gym are billing as their final auditions for the No. 1 spot. Many expect DelleDonne to focus on USA basketball and not play much during the summer club circuit. This would be taking away a great deal from the two teams. Essence cruised past the New England Crusaders behind solid performances from Sykes and Tiffany Hayes, but really their team defense was the key to victory as they trapped the Crusaders early and often. DelleDonne's Philly Comets also cruised in a convincing first game win over the West Virginia Tornadoes.
Saturday's line up is power-packed with another key matchup coming between the Cal Storm and Cy-Fair Shock 90 with Nneka Ogwumike at 5 p.m.