OVER 70 RISING STARS COMPETE IN SECOND WALZ SKILLS CAMP
The heavenly stars may be out over Louisville, KY skies this evening...but the girls' high school basketball version of stars were certainly on display in Cardinal Arena Wednesday afternoon at the Jeff Walz Elite Skills Camp.
A "tired" but raptly involved Coach Walz was on hand to preside over the drills, skill-tests, scrimmages and interaction of over seventy rising high school basketball players...coming in from as far as Honolulu, HI and Shiprock, NM to learn from the Cardinals' staff, players and instructors.
All the Cards assistant and associate coaches were on hand to monitor and organize the activities...plus players Myisha Hines-Allen, Briahanna Jackson, Arica Carter, Brianna Jones, Cortnee Walton, Jessica Laemmle, Sam Fuehring (as a blonde!), Ciera Johnson, Kylee Shook, Taylor Johnson and Sydney Zambrotta...the latter using a leg scooter because a slight foot fracture.
|TOGETHER AGAIN ON THE COURT.|
OH, MY !!!!A-TAYY AND GRANDMA
Byrd, still looking like she could put up a double-double in points and assists, is back in the 'Ville while also busily involved in her Byrd's Basketball Evolution organization. I highly recommend that you check out their activities at:
I also got a few minutes of "air-time" with Dez that we'll play on our Saturday radio show...THE CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR. You won't want to miss these four minutes of classic, fun and inspirational "Dez"!
Ah...yes...the players. I knew we were needing to discuss something else in this article...
Headlined by top ranked 2019 prospect Zoe Evans, top ranked 2020 prospect Sarah Andrews, 2017 powerhouse Lindsey Duvall, rising Chattanooga junior Elizabeth Balogun and many other top-flight players from the 2017-2021 classes...there was plenty of great basketball on display for the spectators.
Upon arrival, I spent my first moments observing the post players. Steph Norman led them through ball-handling, positioning, one and two handed passing, shooting and driving skills. Over the next four hours, I watched a variety of drills, scrimmages, question and answer sessions and instructions with these eager and hard-working campers.
A recruiting service or professional evaluator of high school girls basketball talent...I am not. I will share with you, though, my observations on some players who did catch my attention.
-- Zoe Young. 5'10". Urbandale, IA. 2019. It's easy to see why she's one of the top-ranked in her class. She moves effortlessly up and down the court, shooting with accuracy and getting her teammates involved. She's got an incredibly quick first step that was fun to watch and she's not afraid to mix it up inside, either. It's hard to believe she's just a rising sophomore with her skill set.
-- Sarah Andrews. 5'8" Irving, TX. 2020. Andrews drives well to the basket and finishes very effectively. A ball-hawking defender, she creates her share of steals and can usually finish them off with a layup. She's not afraid to take the rock down the lane and can score with either hand. I didn't see a lot of outside shooting from her..but her mid-range game is very solid for just a freshman.
-- Lindsey Duvall. 5'8" Mt.Washington, KY. 2017. Scouts have raved about her ability to bury the mid-range jumper, attack the basket and distribute the ball very effectively and all that was on display on Wednesday. She worked well with the "bigs" she was teamed up with (Diamond Forrest, Grace Berger) and her and Zoe Young working together on the same team was a delight to watch.
-- Elizabeth Balogun. 6'3" Chattanooga, TN 2018. She showed some very strong and polished inside moves and is a dangerous shot-blocker. Can score easily inside or from mid-range and runs the court very well...finishing effectively on fast breaks. A veteran observer and I agreed she looks like a young Asia Taylor with her multiple skills and court domination.
-- Tatyana Wyatt. 6'2" Columbus, GA 2017. This smooth-as-silk forward is an all-over-the-court player who can beat the defense inside with deceptive moves or post a foe up from outside and punish them all day. Wyatt understands the flow of the game very well and is very capable of making big defensive stops. Watching her and Jorie Allen ( 6'1" - Bedford, IN 2019) go against each other in one of the scrimmages was an exciting and well matched duel of skilled players pushing each other to play their best. Allen has the court sense and scoring ability to become a great one and is just a sophomore...look for her to be one of the best in the Hoosier state by her senior year. She goes to the boards with aggression and has a soft, inside touch.
Diminutive Dakota McCaughhan. 5'2" Secane. PA 2020 was a pleasant surprise to watch at point guard. Torching the competition with her three, she also drives the ball down the court at a ferocious pace with accuracy and confidence. A very skilled defender...this "attack Yorkie" won my heart over with her fearless play and more-than-held her own with players easily six or more inches taller than her.
Others I made notes on...Jordan Brock 5'8" Harlan, KY. 2017 passes the ball well and had great up and down the court quickness. Can knocked the lights out of it from three range if left unguarded. Kayla Kirtley 6'2" Arcadia, IN 2018 has a very nice outside jumper for her height and position...could be a definite wing threat for someone down the road. Ajah Stallings 5'9" Indianapolis 2018 has a nice outside touch and drives to the basket well...give her a step and you're not gonna contain her. Meghan Walz 5'9" Fort Thomas, KY 2018 is Jeff Walz's niece and has a nice overall game...steady on defense and displaying a nice shooting touch.
My two candidates for Worldwide's ALL-NAME team were Treasure Hunt (5'11" Chattanooga, TN 2020) and Diamond Forrest ( 6'4" Smyrna, TN 2017).
Obviously, there are merits, accolades and appreciation for any and all who attend a prestigious skills camp like this one has become and I didn't get a chance to watch any set of players or teams too long...since I was trying to get an overall feel for the camp and maneuvering around the five courts. Congratulations to all the girls who put out great effort Wednesday!
All of you were a pleasure to watch with your skills, hard work, spirit and competitive nature. As I mentioned to Louisville director of women's basketball operations Kate Matthews...it makes me want this 2016-17 basketball season to start...tomorrow!