Posted On: 08/5/19 6:31 PM
The club season has officially come to a close and after much reflection, Mason and I decided to go ahead and compile our thoughts and opinions on some of the best action we saw this summer. Mason drove all up and down the Midwest (6,931 miles to be exact) covering multiple national events and I personally covered events put on by Insider Exposure, Brandon Clay/Peach State Basketball, Premier Basketball and the adidas Gauntlet. Between the two of us, we closely watched hundreds of games and evaluated thousands of players in some form. In this conjoined effort, we will each share who we found to be the most impressive 2-way player, best 17U team and most exciting game of the summer.
1. Who was the most impressive 2-way player that you saw firsthand, regardless of class?
Mason: This might seem a little biased but with what all has transpired in the last two years, the most impressive two-way player I saw was Katie Dinnebier of All Iowa Attack. She tore her ACL two games into her freshman season and was forced to miss both the remainder of her freshman season and all of that AAU season. This past high school season she made a return and played with a large brace on her knee. Coming into the AAU season this year I was hoping that she could get through the season healthy and be 100% for her junior year at Waukee. Midway through April she shed the brace and started to dominate. She’s only 5’7 but was the hardest working player that I saw all season long. She can lock you down on the defensive end and then go out and score 30 points on the other end. She creates space well and is able to get off her defender and get to the rim and score. In terms of being “impressive”, Dinnebier was by far the most impressive.
Nars: There were so many good players out there that could get it done on both sides of the ball, but I would have to go with Sasha Goforth. I have watched her play since her 8th grade year, but she really put it all together this season. Her offensive skill set was as good as anyone’s that I saw with her ball handling, fluid athleticism and tough shot making ability. On the defensive end she really seemed to hone in and take the challenge of defending the opposing team’s best perimeter player for extended stretches. The Oregon State commit is 6’1, but her reach just looks so much longer and that really bothered opponents, making it difficult to get clean looks. In a game versus Colorado Basketball Club, Goforth’s Arkansas Banshees were undermanned and she was literally puking in between timeouts, but she still stepped out onto the floor and competed every possession. With all of that being said, she was the best offensive AND defensive threat I saw on the circuit this summer.
2. Which 17U team was the best in the country for 2019?
Mason: This summer I was able to see a lot of the top teams nationally as I went to multiple national events. I have no doubt that after seeing most, if not all, of the top teams that the best 17U team I saw was FBC United. The combination of Kamilla Cardosa and Lydia Freeman in the post is nearly unstoppable with their combination of height and skill. Treasure Hunt is a do-it-all guard who has the ability to score on anyone at any time. I saw them play twice at Run 4 the Roses and in both games they impressed. The first time was a 65-31 win over the Cal Ballaz and then I saw them take down Indiana Elite Thunder by 10. Indiana Elite Thunder ended up winning the Adidas Gauntlet so you know that was a big win. While FBC United did lose in the championship game I thought that they were the most dominant team all season long.
Nars: FBC United is the runaway winner here for me. I had heard about their dominance all Spring in the newly formed Under Armour Association and when I got to see them in the Premier Basketball/FBC War Games event, they did not disappoint. It is not too often that you get to watch a team with multiple future pros on the same floor and this team was really just littered with legitimate high major prospects. The core of the team was made up of 2020’s with feature players such as 6’2 G Treasure Hunt, 6’7 C Kamilla Cardosa, 6’4 G Amirah Abdur-Rahim and 6’5 C Lydia Freeman making a monstrous roster that also included multiple other girls in the 6’1-6’2 range. The group was coming off of a surprising upset loss to Elevate Elite the night before I saw them, but that would be their only loss of the entire spring and summer. FBC would go on to win the UAA Nationals by 30 points in the championship game. I believe there is no debate on this one.
3. What was the most most all around exciting game of the summer that you saw?
Mason: The most exciting game that I saw all year long was Play4Him Academy vs. Kingdom Hoops 17U. Play4Him Academy is a collection of kids from two high schools in Iowa with a few others sprinkled in. They run a very uptempo style of play and try to swarm the ball at all times, sometimes even triple teaming the ball handler on the catch. Kingdom Hoops is a program that has a few DI commits and they were a year older than the Play4Him group. The game went back-and-forth and while at times there was a lead of 10+ points, each time it was thinned down to a small lead. Ella Collison, Kennedy Lein, and Mallory McCall set the tone for Play4Him while Rose Nkumu, Paige Rocca, and Molly Hoesktra were the game changers for Kingdom Hoops. Due to the play styles of each team and how fast paced the game was this was the most exciting game that I saw all year long.
Nars: Personally, I always love the shoe company show downs. I was fortunate to have seen Nike EYBL, UAA and adidas Gauntlet programs all play one another multiple times in different settings. Michigan Storm (UAA) versus Exodus (EYBL) was the most exciting game of the summer that I witnessed. Brandon Clay’s PSB Summer Invite set the stage. The star power was there with players like 2020 G Sanaya Gregory for the Storm and 2020 6’5 F Natalija Marshall for Exodus. This game was a pleasure to watch as a fan of basketball, because the level of athleticism and skill was so high. The crowd was on overflow with players, fans, parents and major college coaches flooding every side of the gym floor by the end of the game. Exodus would go on to take the back and forth contest by a score of 67-66, but it came down to the wire as all great games should.