This year the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis, Indiana, was filled with many memorable moments: records were broken and historical highlights were made for the archives. Final Four weekend provided inspiring events for young girls and women. There was an atmosphere that compelled everyone to look forward to the future of women's sports.
Tamika Catchings is the epitome of this inspiration for girls basketball. Her upcoming retirement will leave an enormous void in the WNBA. While we hate to see her exit the hardwood, hanging up her basketball sneakers, her departure also provides another pathway for her youth organization and for girls who are eager to learn from one of the
best to ever play professional women's basketball.
This was the first year for the Tamika Catchings Shootout, and what a great event it was. The tournament was hosted at Warren Central High School, an organized 3 court facility with warm staff hospitality. Both Middle and High School girls travel teams competed in front of National Evaluators, DII and DIII College Coaches. I was highly impressed with the talent and exhibition of heart on the court. I believe that events like this bring more visibility and add value to the importance of team sports. As
these increase, we will witness a phenomenal growth in the game, girls will develop, and the level of competition will rise to its highest peak ever.
The presence of key WNBA players and staff were important components of the event. Brianna January and Natalie Achonwa with the Indiana Fever, Tamera Young with the Chicago Sky and coaching staff member Carlos Knox shared their stories and struggles. Their openness and authenticity helped connect the league to the community.
Tamika's integrity and passion for education and inclusion touches the heart of everyone who attends her events. She teaches from her experience and the girls are receptive to her knowledge. It was a wonderful event for all and I am excited to watch it expand like wildfire in the future.
Below are some of my player highlights from the High School Division.
Baylor Basketball 9th/10th Grade girls - Merrillville, IN
Precious Browning- Very athletic player who finishes at the basket. She has an uptempo game and pushes the ball well in transition. Body contact doesn't affect her in fact she plays excellent by using it she did a great job reading the defense and getting draw and kick out movements on the court.
Shelby Harmon - Also a ﬁnisher at the basket, does a good job oﬀ of the pick n roll. I love her energy and aggressiveness on the court, lots of upside.
Team Brandan Wright Black 9th/10th Grade Girls- Nashville , TN
Kaia Upton - Handles the ball well and under control, she will use her le hand to complete layups on the left side, she is an athletic guard who can also take shots when she is open.
Chelsea Burton - She is aggressive when attacking the basket making her defender have to choose to dig in and guard her. She is a shooter, can ﬁnish on left side of the basket and does a good job utilizing ﬂoater runners.
Kenedi Hambrick - She has good court vision and makes the right passes at the right
time, good oﬀ the dribble passes. She is a threat on the perimeter because she's a good shooter.
Team Brandan Wright Red 9th/10th Grade Girls - Nashville, TN
Sidney Ward - She is a shooter, not afraid to take open shots and her technique looks good. A pretty consistent catch and shoot player.
Kyleigh Hardy - I absolutely love her Power Forward ability. She has nice size, can ﬁnish with decent post moves. She reads the defense and can kick the ball out for perimeter shots.
Izzy Franco - She is a good shooter. Good ball-handling and will get down in perfect stance to play hard nose defense. Her ability to catch and shoot with a quick release was impressive.
Mya Fuller - She has good ball-handling skills and does a great job shooting the basketball.
Baylor Basketball 11th/12th Grade Girls - Merrillville, IN
Taiyanna Jackson - She is in the top class of Indiana Girls Basketball. Has a long tall athletic body standing 6'5". A shot blocker. Does a good job with up/under moves and Euro step ﬁnishes. Runs the court on fast break. As she continues to get stronger her game will only elevate.
Vivian Imarenezor - She has an uptempo game, always pushing and moving, aggressive and can get to the basketball with ease sometimes. plays with intensity.
Jenase Bishop - She is also in the top of her class in Indiana Girls Basketball. She is a good point guard, plays under control, a ﬂoor general. Has good ball-handling, and good court vision.
Showcase 17's Team Pride 11th/12th Grade Girls - Indianapolis, IN
Keya Patton - Is top 5 of her class (2018) in Indiana girls basketball. Very athletic, good court vision and plays with composure. She has a strong athletic build.
Sam Walsh - Is an aggressive player, she loves and can execute with body contact under pressure.
The Family 11 & 12 Girls - Indianapolis, IN
Ariyan Hines - She is a great defender, good ball-handling and can shoot the basketball. She works on the defensive end, lots of pressure and digs into the ball all of 94 feet.
Chyna McMichel - Athletic player, good rebounder and she has a soft touch on her shot release. A floor general on the court.
Skye Williams - She is another athletic guard on this team and she is strongest at hitting those 1012 foot shots.
Team Brandan Wright Black 2017 11th/12th Grade Girls - Nashville, TN
Erica Haynes- Overton - Has good penetration to the basket, nice speed and pushes ball.
Janiah Sandifer - She is a good ﬂoor general, does a really good job of rota ng and moving the ball around the perimeter, good draw and kick reads, she plays with composure.
Kesha Brady - She is a good shooter, can penetrate to the basket off of counter moves, she has impeccable footwork to get her shots up and runs the floor exceptionally well.
Brandi Ferby - She is a good shooter, nice form and good solid ﬁnish.
Bria Dial - Has a strong body stands about 5'11". I love her strength ability on the court, good presence and an asset without a doubt.
Tyra Hughes - Is a left handed bandit. She gets to the basket with her strength, nice body size with strong post moves off the block, rebounds well because she engages her body first.
Diamond Forrest -Is another player on this team that has a strong presence. She has a nice big body which makes her existence in the paint a threat. As she continues to develop she will be able to do damage in the paint, increase mobility and be a rebounding demon.