Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Philly Showcase Notes & Standouts, "The Future" Edition (Part I - 2024 & younger)

So much to say, this recap is getting split into multiple parts.

What was initially scheduled as the return of the Atlantic City Showcase had to pivot due to New Jersey COVID-related youth sports restrictions. Lucky for thousands of basketball players & people like myself, Select Events Basketball had the contingency plan handled. The bump was the same, but the setting was an hour northwest in the heart of Philadelphia. 

There were 27 game slots over three days & much more than 27 teams that I wanted to see (maybe I should hire someone), so I didn't get a chance to catch everyone... but I thankfully saw my share. That included plenty of time watching younger age divisions, particularly at the 8th & 9th grade levels, so the first post is dedicated to some of the names you'll be hearing at the high school level for years to come. A few standouts & notable performances that I had a chance to see from individuals in the 2024 class or below (players listed in alphabetical order):

*** This list mainly centers around players from what I consider my primary coverage region - the state of New York north of NYC, western New England, & northern PA - though it doesn't consist entirely of players from those regions. I cover the game because of programs/individuals participating from those regions, but don't solely pay attention to them during the game. A disclaimer in case you're new to EST! ***

Karissa Antoine (5'11"; Schalmont 2024, NY Havoc) - This one doesn't take a seasoned evaluator or any sort of deep basketball mind to explain. Karissa's ability to impact a game is clearly evident. Standing around 5'11", there are certainly forwards that are bigger & taller than her, but she plays like she's 6'3" with superior athleticism. Whether it's protecting the rim on the defensive end, imposing her will on the glass at both ends, finishing over the top & through contact in close range, or getting out and making things happen in transition, Karissa was dominant in stretches and impactful throughout in the one Havoc 2024 game I saw. Mix her athleticism & court presence, and she's the type of player that could also fit right in among older players as well. She more than likely has a future at the Division I level, and with continued offensive skill development, there's major D1 upside.

Karissa Antoine (2024)

Kayla Beaudoin (5'8"; Tamarac 2025, Albany Capitals) - I've watched Kayla's Capitals team a few times in tournaments over the last six weeks, and she's looked a little more comfortable & confident each time to me. At 5'8", she has decent backcourt size and plays both on & off the ball for them. She's a knockdown shooter with a pretty quick, compact release, and she got it going in the game I caught of theirs. She also has decent IQ & an understanding of how to play off the ball to free herself up. Overall, Kayla's already in the process of developing a skillset that will suit her well for years to come.

Kayla Beaudoin (2025)

Ellie Cerf (5'5"; Bethlehem 2024, Capitals/Team McBride) - Ellie's pure skill level with the ball in her hands speaks for itself. Deep range on the J and a pure lefty stroke, handle & quickness to break her defender down off the bounce and ability to use the in-between game or get to the rack & score, and dynamic ability in transition have all become calling cards for a youngster that has already developed a profile with name recognition. With all of that already being part of the package in my eyes, what caught me the most in a couple times seeing Julie McBride's 2024 group was her court vision & ability to be just as deadly of a passer in the P&R game as she is a scorer. Good weekend for an entertaining player to watch.

Sydney Fenn (6'2"; Orchard Park 2024, I-90 Elite) - As a high school freshman, this rising star out of the Buffalo area has a deeper offensive package than a lot of college-bound forwards. With her 6'2"ish build & strength, she can bang around the rim, and she has the soft touch & dexterity to finish with either hand and at different angles off of post moves. On top of that, she can stretch to the perimeter and hit the three if given space & will play off the shot and go off the dribble if the opportunity presents itself. She showed a bit of everything at that end even in the limited amount of time I saw her I-90 squad play. Syd looks to be far from done physically developing & I wouldn't be surprised if she even adds another inch or two onto her frame. It's somewhat early in the game, but I'm anticipating Sydney to be a highly coveted prospect by many D1 programs in the future.

Sydney Fenn (2024)

Madison Francis (6'1"; Lancaster 2025, NY Royals) - Speaking of rising stars out of the Buffalo area... the fingerprint of Madison, who's already built a name for herself in some national circles, continues to expand. Playing up two years with the Royals, she often looked like she could do just about whatever she wanted. Already 6'1" and an explosive but fluid athlete, she made play after play that no one else on the court had the physical capability of pulling off. However, she's far from just a superior athlete, as that was often blended with flashes of next-level skill & playmaking. She finished at the rim, took it coast-to-coast & finished off defensive rebounds on numerous occasions, created for others off the dribble often when catching at the top/high post or in the middle against a press, protected the rim, and even flashed the midrange & perimeter J off the catch. She made perhaps the most impressive play I saw from anyone over the weekend, swooping in to two-hand tip a defensive rebound to herself to lead the break, covering 2/3 of the court in three dribbles and hitting a teammate in stride with a left-handed bounce pass for a layup. When putting all factors together, she's about as impressive of a player at this age as I've seen coming out of upstate/western NY in the years I've covered girls hoops. Looking forward to continuing to track Madison's development.

Zoe Mesuch (5'5"; Wallkill 2025, NY Extreme) - She might be one of the youngest of the young bucks I'm writing about, but her scoring package is second-to-none. Standing at about 5'5", Zoe might not be the one that passes the eye test in the layup line, but it consistently becomes clear after the first couple touches that she's appointment viewing. There's highlight potential in every possession with her elite ballhandling ability & shiftiness, but unlike most players at her age, she blends that trained skill with knowledge of how to apply it in a game situation. One instance in particular comes to mind - a 1v1 transition situation where she had it on the right side in her right hand, the defender tried to run through & stab at the low shoulder, and she reacted with a quick spin into the middle to shake it & finish on the other side of the rim with her left - but there were several more occasions where she made the right read on a primary defender and left them in the dust. What makes her ability to attack off the bounce more deadly is how well she shoots it from the perimeter, both off the catch & off the dribble. Playing up a year, she averaged somewhere in the 25-30 PPG range for the tournament and put up a bunch in the game I watched. Zoe's already a fun blend of substance & style; the type that both sells tickets & helps teams win games.

Zoe Mesuch (2025)

Allison O'Hanlon (5'8"; Duanesburg 2024, Capitals/Team McBride) - Allison has been very good for her age for years, and she's continuing to improve. An open look is pretty much a death sentence for the defense with her range & shooting ability - though she does much more than this, that's been a calling card for her to this point & for good reason. With that, she's deadly off the ball, but she can also play on it & create off the dribble as well. Not only does she have the handle & first step to get downhill, she also has the size & strength to stay on her line, shake contact & finish around the rim. On top of that, I noticed an increased effort & ownership on the defensive end, as she took the challenge & battled opposing teams' top scorers tough when matched up. I've been familiar with Allison for longer than nearly everyone else in her grade; continued development has kept her among the leaders of the discussion when talking about upstate NY talent in the 2024 class.

Allison O'Hanlon (2024)

Rylie Rosenberg (5'3"; New Rochelle 2024, Empire) - I've seen the Empire 2024s enough over the years to make this statement - when Rylie gets hot, buckle up. I opened the event by watching them, and... yeah. I wasn't attempting to count, but the diminutive but dynamic guard hit 7 threes that I remember with a couple coming from way behind the line. When they gave up a lead in the 2nd half & fell behind by a couple possessions, a game-breaking run that was primarily fueled by Rylie put them back on top with some breathing room in an eventual narrow win. On top of that, she's pretty quick off the bounce & isn't afraid of some contact around the rim. Rylie's fun to watch as it is, and in Friday's game, she lit the nets on fire.

Kennedy Umeh (6'3"; McDonogh (MD) 2024, Philly Rise) - With Kennedy being from well outside of my region, this was my first time watching her play, and she left a heck of an impression. Again, I don't claim to be a "national" evaluator that knows everyone from all corners of the country, but if there are many other bigs in the 2024 class as dominant as her, I'd love to see them. She made her presence felt from the opening possessions in the game I saw, and even as defensive adjustments geared more toward containing her, she was still a force. At 6'3" with a strong natural frame, how well she moves is almost scary for her age. She blended soft touch around the rim with the pure strength, and a 1v1 post situation usually turned into deep position & a nearly guaranteed two points. Even when she didn't get deep position, she showed the ability to make a post move & score. This Philly Rise group has a gang of special players, and even in my limited viewing, it was clear that you can't bring them up without mentioning Kennedy.

A few others that had some noteworthy moments & showings that I got to see along the way:

Grace Corelli (5'8"; Byram Hills 2024, Lightning - Hart)
Cloey Dopp (5'9"; Mayfield 2024, NY Havoc)
Azera Gates (5'6"; Albany 2025, Albany Lady Stars)
Tatum Greene (6'3"' McDonogh (MD) 2024, Philly Rise)
Madison Hart (5'4"; Sacred Heart Greenwich (CT) 2024, Lightning - Hart)
Peyton Hoblock (5'11"; Shaker 2026, Albany Capitals)
Taylor Holohan (5'11"; Averill Park 2024, NY Havoc)
Kendall Parker (5'7"; Dundee 2025, NY Royals)
Aniya Rowe (5'7"; Bishop Kearney 2024, I-90 Elite)
Audrey Shields (6'1"; Emma Willard 2024, Philly Rise)
Chloe Sotell (5'9"; Stamford (CT) 2024, Empire)
Bria Watkins (5'8"; Webster Schroeder 2025, I-90 Elite)
Mariah Watkins (5'11"; Webster Schroeder 2024, I-90 Elite)
Julia Whelan (5'10; Ithaca 2024, Elmira Fusion)

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