All eyes were on the Nike Tournament of Champions that took place July 10-12, 2017 in Chicago, IL. More than a dozen Canadian team made the trek to the Windy City to take on many of Americas best, and here are just a few of the names that stood out, and why:
Iseyemi was one of the stalwarts of Team Nova Scotia’s U17 team. When she was on the floor for her team she provided the right type of impact on the game by doing a lot of the work in the tranches. She was often pitted against the opposing team’s stronger players and showed that she could hold her own defending a number of positions with a fair bit of success, even when giving up a few inches to opponents in the Post. On the offensive side of the ball, playing through contact was par for the course for her on takes to the basket, although her lack of a consistent shooting touch was an unfortunate Achilles heel. In many elements of her game, she made her presence known as the type of player that opponents didn’t enjoy being matched up against.
Reid asserted herself and made the most of the opportunities she was given in this tournament. She displayed a competitive nature and used her size to her advantage in the paint on both ends of the floor. I was pleased that she decided to abandon a more passive style of play in order to fight: fight for rebounds, running the floor in order to be a part of the play on both ends of the floor and fight to contribute on the offense.
Team Alberta U17s entered the event packing a ton of size with a half dozen players six feet or taller. Among them was Masikewich who basketball movements were fluid and instinctual. She played a stretch-four position and showed a nice shooting touch when given the time to load up. I did notice some occasions on the defensive side of the ball where she was challenged to keep opponents with the ball in front of her when they made up their minds to drive. However, being able to block a few shots and gain a few extra possessions for her team because of her rebounding ability, is something that along with hard work can lead to something quite promising.
One of the uniforms that will likely require extra cleaning attention after this event will likely be the Team Ontario – White uniforms that Bailey wore, for all of the time spent on the floor diving for loose balls and absorbing contact. Playing very hungry in throughout her games, this Toronto area PG played as though she had something to prove. Of course, when hard preparation in the gym when training, meets intensity during games, usually good things happen. The way Bailey played it is obvious that she trains and practices at an intense level, as a good number of her touches included a high rate of speed and she looked strong on the ball. This is a sign of a player that will be totally committed to a program, and one with very high potential.
Fedick has intriguing size and moved around the floor easily. She appeared confident with where she needed to be on the court and with her 6’2″ frame and reach she rebounded well and even blocked the occasional shot. Fedick has enough skills to put the ball on the floor and could even start the break. I will look for the Sherwood Park, AB native to become a more reliable shooter from mid and long range, to improve upon the face-up style of play she displayed. I could easily see Fedick being slept by those outside of the prairie provinces in the coming years, which would make her a diamond in the rough candidate for the post-secondary team that ultimately lands her.
It is at times hard to believe that Edwards has only been playing basketball for a couple years now because how much she has accomplished in that short period of time. In only a short period of time, she has already played on the U16 Canadian National Team and earned a Silver Medal at the FIBA Americas competition earlier this year. Sporting her now signature purple and yellow braids (her nod to her favorite player, Kobe Bryant) Edwards was all over court displaying her athleticism and more than holding her own in games against the EYBL teams in her pool. Based on her performance in Chicago, I would expect her to be a highly sought after prospect with a tremendous upside.
Julia Colavecchia and Madalyn Picton
Watch for the Welland Warriors beginning to make a name for themselves out of the Niagara Falls, ON region. Two of the names that caught my eye from this team are Julia Colavecchia and Madalyn Picton. Colavecchia used her ability to read the game and a decent wing span to create problems in the back court. As she did in her game against the North Tartan 9th West 15U team, she proved that she can do a good job reading defences and turning them over in the back court and has can finish with ease around the basket. Picton demonstrated she can not only distribute the ball to make those around her better, but that she can also take advantage of driving lanes and finish on either side of the basket. The Warriors as a whole showed lots of promise and will be put on my radar with the expectation of good things to come.
Audino was no stranger to blocking shots in Team Ontario U14 game against DFW. She had several blocked shots in their game and was very much a presence all around on the defensive end of the court. On offence she showed that she can be productive whether facing the basket 5 or so feet out or with her back to the basket. Increasing her mobility by making improvements in her lateral ability and her baseline to baseline speed would be a nice added touch to her skill-set, but with time on her side, there will be lots of opportunity to be more agile and continue to be a very good prospect.