A look at the Big Apple TOC

The first annual Big Apple Tournament of Champions convened at Fordham University in the Bronx last week, showcasing many of the top players from the Northeast. One of the most recruited girls in the area, Danielle Wilson, was present with her team, Basketball Results. On Saturday morning, Basketball Results faced Team Massachusetts in pool play and it was a chance for Wilson to show her stuff before the crowd of coaches huddled on the sidelines to watch her play.

The game didn't start auspiciously for Wilson as she whiffed the tip-off, giving the ball to Team Mass who promptly fed Sadiea Williams for an easy basket. Basketball Results tried to dash up the floor and feed the ball to Wilson, who found herself fronted by the smaller 6-1 Tyana Carper. Carper gives up three inches and about 50 pounds to Wilson but she defended Wilson extremely well, staying bodied up to the bigger player. Deprived of her favorite target and unsure what to do, the Basketball Results guard turned over the ball and the tone was pretty much set for the day.

Team Mass fed Carper in the lane and Carper had little trouble taking a step back and shooting over Wilson. Basketball Results continued to try to pound the ball inside but were foiled by the hard-working Carper. It took a while for Wilson's teammates to realize they needed to step up. By the time Carper nailed a three-pointer over a shocked Basketball Results, Team Mass was up 11-4.

With 7:22 remaining in the half and Team Mass up 17-7, the Basketball Results coach pulled Wilson. Carper immediately took a rest, heading to the sidelines to cheers and high-fives from her teammates.

Basketball Results actually did better with Wilson out, as other players looked to take their shots. While no particular player really stood out, Results showed it has some nice balance and could work the ball around for a decent shot. However, Team Mass is also well balanced, with Sadeia Williams leading the way.

Williams, a very promising rising junior, showed great speed and athleticism as she stole balls and dashed up the floor for breakaway baskets. Williams, a 5-10 guard, also managed to use her speed to sneak in for defensive rebounds, often hitting a teammate on the run up the floor.

When a rejuvenated Wilson returned to the game, the score was 20-12. She immediately showed her range with a beautiful turnaround jumper from about 10'. Wilson was still backing down double-teams but instead of forcing up balls, she passed out to an open teammate.

Unfortunately for Results, Williams just redoubled her efforts, skying to outrebound bigger players on the defensive end. After one particularly impressive ‘bound, Williams streaked up the floor and put up the shot. She was hammered by her defender but still managed to finish the shot. After making her free throw, Team Mass was up 27-14.

The halftime score was 31-17 in favor of Team Mass and coaches on the sidelines were beginning to murmur. It appears that Carper and Williams have attracted some admirers among the coaching corps.

Amazingly enough, Carper played even better in the second half, blocking Wilson's first shot attempt, driving the baseline for a layup, stealing the ball then hitting another three-pointer for good measure. With 10:20 left in the game, Team Mass had an impressive 39-19 lead on Basketball Results.

Carper went out to take a rest and Team Mass immediately got into trouble, experiencing the same problem Results had in the first half. With their inside presence on the bench, Team Mass started passing the ball around the perimeter, searching for a viable shot. They ended up either turning over the ball or taking a bad shot. Results took advantage, especially Wilson who found herself guarded 6-0 (probably more like 5-11) forward Coco Josey.

Josey, a smooth, athletic player, was quick enough to steal some balls from Wilson but she just couldn't overcome the height advantage. Results also remembered their have some good shooters on their team. All of a sudden, Team Mass's 20 point lead was whittled down to 6 with 5:05 left in the game.

The three stalwarts of Team Mass, Carper, Williams and Josey, took it upon themselves to retain the lead. Carper hit a 12' jumper, Josey rebounded a Results miss at the other end and fed it to Williams who missed the layup. Carper got the rebound and putback to push Team Mass's lead back up to 10. A Team Mass foul put Wilson on the line but she made only one of two with 3:20 left in the game.

Team Mass took the air out of the ball with some deft passing. When they finally shot the ball, the attempt missed. Results attempted a shot which was blocked by Josey. Josey blocked Wilson's next shot but fouled. Again, Wilson made only one of two making the score 44-35 with :58 remaining.

The pace grew frantic as both teams played aggressive defense. Carper capped off her day with a big block then rebounding the next Results miss. Team Mass guard Gesimi Rolle hit a three and a Results guard answered with a three pointer that cleared the net just seconds before the buzzer.

While some in the audience felt that the 47-38 Team Mass win was an upset the truth is that Team Mass is a darned good team. They were a Final Four squad at the US Junior National 17U tourney just the week before.

Some players of note at the Big Apple TOC:

Danielle Wilson, 6-4 P, St. John the Baptist/Basketball Results, 2006
While she may have had a tough game, have no doubt that this is a very talented young woman. She has great mobility and showed some real range on her shots. In the inside-outside game, her passing was above par for posts. She has listed her college interests as Temple, UConn, Maryland, Notre Dame, Virginia and Duke.

Tyana Carper, 6-1 F, Shrewsbury MA/Team Mass, 2006
Her tremendous fundamentals on defense, especially boxing out, bodying up shooters and moving her feet rather than reaching in make Carper an attractive prospect. For such a thin player, Carper proved to be fairly sturdy holding her ground under the onslaught of the bigger Wilson without tiring. As noted, she has great range out to the perimeter. What may make some coaches hesitate is her average speed and athleticism. Word is that Carper is leaning towards Holy Cross and that seems perfect for her. They always field a team that's fundamentally sound and tough mentally and physically, a very good description of Carper. (Anyone remember Katie O'Keefe?)

Colette "Coco" Josey, 6-0 F, Framingham MA/Team Mass, 2006
Josey is quick with the ball and without. She's a tough rebounder who isn't afraid to mix it up with bigger players. She's listed as a forward but she has the ball handling skills to play as a G/F. Her list as of a couple months ago include Boston College, Boston University, UMass, Miami, Michigan State and Stonehill.

Sadiea Williams, 5-10 G, Lunenburg/Team Mass, 2007
Her aggressiveness rarely gets her into trouble because she usually makes good decisions on the floor. Williams is an athletic player with a really big upside. Her jumper looks a little odd sometimes, shooting from right above her head but she's still got two more years of school. This is a young player who got some positive reviews from coaches.

Brittany Ray, 5-9 G, Aquinas/Long Island Lightning, 2006
When I saw her play, it was late, it was hot and it was steamy in the gym. But Ray was very active on offense, stealing multiple balls and blocking shots effortlessly. She seems to have a good read on the opponent's offense and anticipates the action very well. Ray said she will narrow down her unspecified list of college interests during August.

Sheylani "Shey" Peddy, 5-9 G Melrose/Boston Sharks, 2007
Peddy played both point and shooting guard with tremendous energy and aggressiveness. She zipped passes to teammates, often making an impossible pass look easy. Her head was always up, looking to make or receive a pass. Defensively, Peddy blocked a number of shots with her quickness and leaping ability. A prodigious scorer, Peddy can shoot from anywhere, although her favorite move appears to be blowing right by defenders for a high percentage layup. Peddy's aggressiveness seems to come and go, though, and although she dominated this day, there have been games where she's virtually indistinguishable from other players. Her defense in the half court is very suspect as well.

Epiphany Prince, 5-9 G Murray Bergtraum/Exodus NYC, 2006
Prince has a lot of natural ability with her smooth athleticism and sharp passing. However, on the day I saw her, her team was playing an inferior opponent and Prince didn't seem inclined to exert herself that game. On two consecutive possessions, Exodus stole the ball and Prince raced up the court, stopping at the perimeter to jack up quick three pointers. With her team up by 20 points, it was mystifying why she chose the perimeter shot. However, Prince is clearly very talented and is considered one of the best players in the class of 2006.

Anjale Barrett, 5-9 G St Michael's/Exodus NYC, 2007
Barrett glides around the court with an easy gait, changing speeds at will to snatch balls from unsuspecting guards. Future opponents will want to note that Barrett should NOT be left alone on the perimeter, as she nailed several three pointers with ease even with a hand in her face. When blanketed by the defense, Barrett could turn on the jets and slip around the defender to put up pretty jumpers from just about anywhere.

Erica Morrow, 5-8 G Murray Bergtraum/Exodus NYC, 2007
In my notes, I have the word "quick" written three times. Quick hands, quick feet and a quick smile to go with her outgoing personality. Morrow hustled at all times even though the opponent was overmatched, never slacking off on either offense or defense. Her shot from the perimeter looked awkward but when given the opportunity to take it to the basket, Morrow finished cleanly even when getting hacked. She, like Barrett, has a lot of upside. Morrow said she hasn't even thought about college yet and has no list of schools, even a preliminary one.

Others I liked but didn't take enough notes for a write-up:
Nikita Green, 5-2 G Middle School 158/NY Heat 15U, 2009
Nicole Michael, 6-3 F Notre Dame Academy-Fitchburg/Exodus NYC, 2006
Vionca Murray, 6-1 F, Francis Lewis/Long Island Lightning, 2006
Georgiann Williams, 6-0 F Hyde School/New Heights, 2006 (I saw her in the New England Preps Class C All-Star game in February and noticed her then, as well)

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