On December 20-21, 2014, the Transway JUEL Prep Exhibition Series took place in the RISE Centre in Brantford, ON.

The five team event was meant to be a preseason tune-up to the JUEL Prep, U16 season, which is about a month away from tip-off.

Despite the cold temperatures inside due to a heating malfunction, players from the Barrie Royals, Blessed Sacrament, London Ramblers, Niagara, and hosts Hamilton Transway were able to heat it up on the court.

All in all, the showcase event served it primary purpose: To get the players their first run executing new plays with their new teammates, and to get them accustomed to the quicker style of play in the longer games they’ll be encountering when the league gets their second year off the ground in mid January.

Keeping in mind that players in the pre-season are expected to have a bit of rust, here are a couple of players that stood out:

Hailey Brown

Hailey Brown – File photo

Hailey Brown 6’2″, F, 2017
I am not sure if Brown even had the opportunity to unpack her bags after attending the Canada Basket Assessment Camp earlier on in the week. But, she brought a hard work ethic with her to this event. While the wear and tear of coming off of 5 days of training with the best players in the country did seem to show, Brown’s impact on the game wasn’t hard to miss. Defences had to know where she was on the court at all times. When she wasn’t drawing double teams in the low post, she was unclogging the lane by camping out on the perimeter, and was still able to find success in either position in the offensive end.

Jennah Taylor 5’11”, F, 2017
Taylor is new this year to the Ramblers organization after making the switch from Valhalla, whom she played with last season and through the summer. At 5’11”, she was tasked with some of the post-up duties which she handled well. She doesn’t avoid contact when making her moves towards that basket, making the most of her long limbs and strength when doing so. Her finishing around the basket is something that she will need be more consistent but she did demonstrate that the tools are in place in order for future success.

Birute Banyte 5’6″, PG, 2017
Banyte punished defences with a very accurate shot and the ability to stay hot consistently throughout a game. She was the type of player that didn’t take over the game, but routinely found success with her shot. The Yellow Jackets found a way to get her open looks and she obliged with good timely shooting from longer distances. In Blessed Sacrament’s first game, against London, 9 of her 14 points were 3-pointers. In their second, she added 2 more in scoring 12. Going forward, I will be looking for other areas of Banyte’s game to develop as a part of the overall target of being a well rounded player.

Jacey Aikens 5’10”, W, 2017
After watching Aikens in the Ontario Cup this past Spring, I noticed that she has maintained the potential to have have a really hot shooting hand. She has a repeatable shooting form that appears constant regardless of being wide open, or under pressure with a hand in her face. An increased competitive hunger and consistent hard work on every play, through these longer games this JUEL Prep season, will be what stands between her and being in the conversation with the league’s elite.

Aerial Wilson 5’6″, PG, 2019
An injury, and commitments to a high school tournament in the States by two others left Transway relatively thin at the Point Guard position. It was a prime opportunity for Wilson to step up and make a name for herself. The humble Grade 8 did a good job when she had her chance, by providing quality minutes on both ends of the floor. It did take her some time to catch her bearings and get used to lthe quicker pace of the JUEL Prep, but when she did, a very good passer and pesky defender in the open court emerged. With the continued athletic development and strength building one would expect from a pre-high schooler, Wilson appears to be a name that will need to be on the radar for years to come.

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