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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday CARDINAL COUPLE -- Kentucky Junior All-Stars


-Jenny reports on Junior All-Star Game

-Jenny's "take" on Walz Elite Skills clinic

( Jenny O'Bryan brings us the Wednesday edition of CARDINAL COUPLE. She's developing a strong following amongst our readers and WE know you'll enjoy her offerings today!) 

I attended the Junior All-Star Game between Kentucky and Indiana on Saturday night at North Oldham High School.  This is the first time that All-Star juniors from each of the states have suited up to play each other.  Indiana won both games between the girls.  On Friday night, Indiana won 101-98.  Saturday evening the final was 78-68...with Indiana on top again. 

The leading scorer each night was the same for each team.  Becca Greenwell, of Owensboro Catholic, led Kentucky with scores of 44 and 16, respectively.  For Indiana, it was Taya (tie-a) Reimer out of Hamilton Southeastern, who led the Indiana girls with 28 and 24, respectively. 

I decided to go to the game to watch several key players.  On the court for Kentucky, and of key interest for Louisville fans, was Becca Greenwell and Makayla Epps (of Marion County).  Recent Louisville de-commit Kyvin Gooden-Rogers, China Dow, from Christian Academy of Louisville who was mentioned here last week, were also junior all-stars.  My primary interest was to watch Greenwell and Epps. 

On the Indiana side, I was particularly interested in seeing the game of two of their All-Stars Taya Reimer and Stephanie Mavunga.  Reimer is a recent commit to Notre Dame and a future UofL opponent in the Big East.  Reimer is currently ranked #4 in the country by ESPN Hoopgurlz.  Stephanie Mavunga
out of Brownsburg, IN, is currently ranked 17th in the country and was a recruiting target of Louisville’s, until her recent commitment to North Carolina.   If Mavunga’s name sounds familiar, it could be because it is often tied to the name of Mercedes Russell.  The two are said to be very good friends and long thought of as a package deal to whatever school they chose.  As we all now know, Mavunga has committed to UNC and Russell has yet to make her college choice.   Louisville, UNC and Tennessee are thought to be the frontrunners for Russell.

On the Kentucky side, Greenwell did not disappoint.  While she led all KY scorers on Saturday night, it was an off-night offensively for her.  She went 3-18 from the field.  While I do not have final stats of the game, she was at the free throw line on multiple occasions.  If my memory serves me correctly, she was perfect from the stripe.  With an off night offensively, you may be wondering what impressed me.  The kid never gave up, on a single play and she played with no hesitation.  That is what impressed me the most.  With the bulky knee brace on supporting her right knee from an ACL tear last summer she is not going to be the fastest kid on the court.  But, she made up for it with tenacious defense, fighting for loose balls, getting hands in the way of shooting lanes, blocking out, and rebounding her own misses and going up for second and third chance shots.  She was seemingly beat down court by her opponent only to swipe the ball from behind and deflect a shot.   She was well defended behind the arc, would hesitate a second, and shoot over the outstretched arms of her opponent.  The kid never gave up.  She played hard the entire time.  Even though it was an off night for her offensively, she found ways to score and found many ways to impact the game. Hands down, she was the best player on the KY side by this untrained eye.  Should Louisville wind up keeping this valued in-state talent home and playing at the YUM, rest assured scoring records will be broken. 

Epps was in and out of the game a lot.  She seemed off of her game compared to when I have seen her at previous outings.  There was some speculation perhaps she tweaked her knee in the Friday night game.  She was a non-factor in this outing.  What I can say, is that she looked both taller and trimmer than I remember. 

Gooden-Rogers impressed me in the first half, coming out with some quick buckets to get KY on the scoreboard.  She also made a couple of nice defensive efforts against Reimer on the Indiana side in the first half.   While her second half of play was nowhere near as strong as the first half, she is going to be a great ball player.  I am saddened by her de-commit from Louisville.  I wish her the best as she reopens her recruiting.  I look forward to watching her game, wherever it is she may end up. 

There were two surprises on the KY side worth a quick mention.  Larryn Brooks out of Richmond Madison Central managed the point most of the game.  She was effective, fast, and played tight defense, causing multiple disruptions and steals.   On Friday night, she scored 22 to back up Greenwell’s 44.  She was fun to watch.  Also worth a mention as having caught my eye was Whitney Hartlage.  Hartlage plays for Mercy.  On this particular night, she had a hot hand.  A quick release from behind the arc had this young lady as the second leading scorer for the night at 14. 

On the Indiana side, Taya Reimer did not disappoint either.  I look forward to watching her game continue to grow and having her as an opponent in the Big East.   A Notre Dame commit, Reimer was powerful, aggressive with the ball, and around the rim.  She had several blocks, played tight defense and had no trouble getting through traffic to the bucket.   When she was not scoring buckets she was drawing fouls and making it to the free throw line.   Reimer was by far the best player on the floor on the Indiana side. 

Stephanie Mavunga was the other Indiana player that drew my attention.  Mavunga is tall, and powerful around the rim.  She never gave up on a rebound and immediately would go back to the rim with rebounds secured.  As stated before... I did not get a final stat sheet, but I am sure her stat line was stuffed with rebounds and hard fought points in the paint.


As Paul mentioned in his Friday article, I was able to attend the latter half of the skills clinic last Thursday.  While the clinic was attended by at least 50 kids, I am speaking of just a few that caught my eye.  All of the kids played hard, and seemed to be getting the most of their time and money from the Louisville staff and players.  Mine is an untrained eye, so, take my thoughts for what they are worth.

Ayanna Edwards- As Paul mentioned, this post player from Sacremento, CA already has an offer by Louisville.  I saw some 5 on 5 half-court scrimmaging with her.  What stood out the most to me was her presence in the paint.  With a big body Ayanna was able to clog up the lane and had several blocked shots in a quick 7-8 minute span.  

JaVonna Layfield is a local player from Ballard High School.  JaVonna has an athletic build and was cat-quick up and down the court.  She saw the court well and passed the ball well.  If my information is correct this young player has Cardinal ties in that she is the niece of former Louisville stand out, Larry O’Bannon.

Sabrina Haines attended the camp from Arizona.  She probably stood out the most to me.  This sturdy framed guard scored, defended, rebounded, blocked out and went after loose balls.  She was all over the court. 

The roster of attendees was helpful so that Paul and I could identify kids as they were playing.  Unfortunately, the jerseys the kids wore had very small numbers on them.  While my eyes are not that old, they felt terribly old that day as I had a difficult time identifying players on the court.  That being said other kids caught my eye, but I could not identify them.  I do not know if anyone involved with the clinic reads these articles, but if they do, bigger numbers on the jerseys would be very helpful!

All of that being said, observers at the clinic on Thursday, June 28 from 1-5:00 at Cardinal Arena should have absolutely no problem identifying Mercedes Russell.  The tall, lean 6-5 post player from Oregon no doubt will stand out not only with her size but with her skills on the court.  Grab a friend and please join Cardinal Couple writers on the 28th as we get a sneak peek at what the #1 kid in the country looks like on the court!!  We’ll see you there!

( Another couple of great reports from Jenny ! We can't stress it enough...please join us the 28th. at CARDINAL ARENA to watch the camp. You won't regret it...and we'll try to remember to bring binoculars for Jenny...)


  1. Any other big name players coming to camp on 28th?

    Curtis Franklin

    1. Curtis, I have heard some of the in-state kids that were mentioned a few weeks ago in my article will be at the clinic. Maci Morris, Yacine Diop, to name a few. If there are other high ranking national players coming, it has been a secret well kept. I will see if I can get any additional information from any sources.

    2. Have it on good authority that Makayla Epps, Rebecca Greenwell, Maci Morris will also be there.


  2. Rumor has it that Greenwell is a strong lean toward Notre Dame. Cardinal Couple haring anything different?

    Gadabout Gene,
    South Bend, IN.

  3. Gene, I do not know, though I have long heard that ND was being considered. Though it seems she was only recently offered a scholarship by ND. According to twitter she is going to be on the ND campus this weekend with Taya Reimer. I am hoping she is still "on the board" after her visit this weekend.

  4. Thanks for the coverage on this. The "One Great Newspaper" here in Louisville is horrible about covering women's sports. Keep up the good work Jenny and Cardinal Couple.


  5. Great read Jenny. Thanks for the writing effort.
    Will see you on the 28th and it was good to meet you at the softball regional.
    Sandy W

  6. Thanks for the coverage!

  7. What is the medical story with Asia Taylor?

    Is Mercedes going to NC camp or not?

    We want Mercedes here in Louisville - has anyone seen a picture of the Louisville cardinal women's basketball billboard which has been tweeted as erected in Springfield, Oregon?

    See all of you on the 28th at the YUM!

  8. I was curious about Asia as well. No knowledge on my part, but I have tweeted and asked her. Seems to be her hip, but I am not sure of the condition. On a gOod note, Tia talked about getting off her crutches today.

    Last I heard, Mercedes is not attending the UNC camp.

    I have not seen the billboard, but would love to see it. Anyone out there have a picture of the Louisville WBB billboard that went up in Springfield, Oregon?


  9. I hope we r okay in the post no more on monny?

  10. We have it on good authority that Monny will be on campus this Fall, but she will have to sit out a year.

    To the above poster, the camp on the 28th is at Cardinal Arena, not YUM. Hope to see a bunch of you folks there!!


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