Over the course of the day, 106 girls and approximately three dozen college coaches from throughout the Northeast descended upon Riverfront Sports for 2021's installment of the EST Fall Showcase. 52 of those players were responsible for making the event jump from the start, and that they did as a particularly competitive group took the court from approximately 9:30-12:00. I've spent time each day obsessing over notes/details & breaking down game film, and with that comes a verbal playback of what I was able to witness. The AM session review:
|Adriana Fontana, who has made her mark & been a consistent presence at EST events in 2021, came through for the Fall Showcase AM session.|
- With events that have open registration, you can only control so much with things like positional balance. That showed itself when comparing each session. Whereas the later session was rich in wings & forwards, this was a backcourt-heavy group. It was more apparent in 3v3 play than anything, and they made it work - it also made for some high-octane individual matchups - but interesting how each session had some individuality.
- As mentioned, this was a particularly competitive group, and in my opinion, it started from the top. It is what it is - sometimes, some of the D1 kids go through the motions at these events, mine included. This was NOT the case in the AM session. Led by players like Fordham commit Kaety L'Amoreaux, D1-offered 2023s Kaylee Krysztof, Kailey Kalet, & Liv Agunzo, and highly-regarded 2025 Kaila Richards, the more highly touted prospects in this session seemed to come through with a point to prove. It's always nice to have a collection of talent like that on the floor, but when they truly compete & get after each other, that's what makes it fun.
|Kaylee Krysztof, one of the event's most highly touted recruits with several D1 offers, got after it & competed at a high level throughout the Fall Showcase AM session.|
- This session had a lot of new faces as far as EST events go. Usually for the high school showcases, 60-70% of participants have been in an EST event before. In this session, that number was below half. A quick count shows that 29 of the AM group's 52 participants (approx. 56%) were EST first-timers. That many 'new' faces (as in at EST - some I've watched dozens of times) made for an interesting dynamic to watch as they settled in over the course of the day.
- There weren't many that came for the early group from WNY, but the ones that did showed out. 5 players that represent Section 6 or the Monsignor Martin were there in the AM - Kaylee Krysztof, Reece Beaver, Mackenzie Owens, Presleigh Brunner, & Grace Caterina - and they all put forth the kind of performances that were worthy of getting mentioned below.
- Speaking of regions... it was great to have a little more local flavor for an event in Scranton. Prior to this year's Fall Showcase, I believe only two players from PIAA's District 2 (northeast PA) had ever participated in an event, and both of them were in May's MS Combine, also at Riverfront. There were 8 locals in this session alone, from uncommitted 2022s that would help many college programs like Kaeli Romanowski & Anna Scoblick to a rising 2025 star in Ella Wilson. Expanding my coverage region to include NEPA has been a priority of mine the last couple years, and it was great to see some of the premier locals getting some work in.
An Extra One... A 6-PACK OF UNCOMMITTED 2022s THAT MADE THEIR MARK
Alexandra Bednarczyk (6'1", Baldwinsville/I-90 Elite): A legit 6 footer, Ola possesses a combo of basketball skill & strength that can make her a tough matchup to deal with offensively. She showed the ability to stretch to the perimeter & shoot it, though she was most effective taking defenders off the bounce with deceptively crafty handle & bag of 1v1 moves. She also was willing to use her strong natural frame to be physical & gain an advantage around the rim, and she scored numerous times on offensive rebound putbacks. The free-flowing style of an individual showcase also suited her strengths as it allowed her to put those different offensive tools on display. With continued focused development & weight room time, Ola could definitely continue to see growth & expansion in her game at the collegiate level.
Presleigh Brunner (5'7", Nardin Academy/Buffalo Titans): Out of the six listed here, Presleigh was definitely the one I've seen the least of, but she left as big of an impression as any. If you know me, you know I don't care about points at an individual showcase - we don't keep score on the board for a reason - but out of all AM session participants, Presleigh was the 5v5 leading scorer with 37 points in two games. The number itself may not mean as much to me personally, but the way in which she got them was what caught my eye. In previous viewings, she did most of her damage in transition, and although she did use her next-level athleticism to wreak havoc in the open court here as well, a lot of her production actually came in the half-court. Whether it was catch & shoot threes, midrange pull-up jumpers, a couple 8'-12' floaters, or finishes in traffic, she brought out the entire toolbox in 5v5 play. She's still best suited for a program that wants to play with speed, but the ability to be potent as the game slows to a half-court style adds another valuable dimension.
Stasia Epler (5'8", Cambridge/NY Havoc): Stasia didn't hit a three during 5v5 play & still did her thing, which probably says all you need to know about her development on the offensive end. Known more for being a knockdown shooter, the well-known 518 commodity played off that & opportunistically attacked the rim. Most noteworthy was not only her ability to make a 1v1 move & turn the corner, but how she willingly took & even initiated contact while finishing at the rim. In the past, the contact is something she may have shied away from. That's changed with age & strength development, and Stasia has now cemented herself as a dangerous scorer that can give it to you in different ways. If she ends up as one of Section 2's leading scorers this winter, I wouldn't be surprised.
Olivia Muse (6'1", Vestal/City Rocks): I was curious as to how this event would go for Liv, an intriguing 2022 that's just now coming off an extended time on the sideline due to a foot injury. Although you could still see the effects of the injury on occasion, simply put, she's further along than I would've expected for someone that's been sidelined for months. With her height & physique, the physical attributes make themselves abundantly clear when she walks on the court. Liv is someone I've been able to see many times over the years, starting in her freshman year on the AAU circuit with BNY Select. Over that time, she's continued to grow while growing into her body, and it appears that the skill development piece is taking shape now. Along with being a presence defensively & on the glass, she presented herself as more of a scoring threat than what I've seen in the past, showing well-trained footwork in the post and back-to-basket & face-up game. Rob Baxter, the BNY Select founder & BX Player Development owner (and her longtime coach/trainer), always preaches the 'long game' with post prospects like Liv and having the foresight to see what they can be at 20/21 years old. Those words look like they're ringing true here.
Kaeli Romanowski (5'5", Western Wayne (PA)/NEPA Elite): Relentless effort & ruthless desire are hallmarks of Kaeli's game, and in this setting, those attributes were on display. Although she is a capable scorer & did that at times during this event, it was the ability to put the clamps on her matchup among a loaded backcourt crew that was most noticeable. She stays disciplined, doesn't back down from the legal physicality of the game, and harasses ballhandlers with quickness & toughness. Offensively, she showed good situational recognition in making 'the right play' while also taking advantage of mismatches when given the opportunity. Among other things, shorter guards need to have some of that 'dog' in them to separate themselves... Kaeli has it in abundance.
Brooke Tillotson (5'8", Marathon/Twin Tier Elite): Brooke is one of this year's 'buzz' prospects in upstate NY, as her recruitment has been as active as anyone's among D2 (offered by Staten Island) and strong D3 programs. There was no question why that's the case at this event, and she may have even shown a little more among some high level guards. On the offensive end, she showed good floor game and was as in control as I've seen her on the ball, effectively picking her spots to attack & when to get others involved. A right-dominant player in the past, she also showed progression in balancing that out with willingness to go downhill to her left when available. She was just as much of a force on the defensive end if not even more - good positional size, above-average athleticism, discipline, and a desire to compete on that end allowed her to make life difficult even for the D1 level guards. She crashed the glass & showed her worth as a good rebounding guard, and the intangibles also showed, as it felt like she was always around the ball & always in a position to make a play. 'Winning plays' at these events go a long way in my book, and she consistently made them.
5 'STARS' THAT TOOK CARE OF BUSINESS
Olivia Agunzo (5'8", Division Avenue/LI Lightning 2023): D1 level guard in a setting that suits her strengths... it was showtime from go time for Liv. Her play from the first minutes of 3v3 to the final rotation of 5v5 play made her one of this session's true standouts. She was perhaps this group's most potent scorer and did it in a smooth but electric fashion, showing the ability to do it at three levels with range well beyond the college line & exceptional craftiness with the bounce and around the rim. As a guard that's particularly comfortable in P&R actions, she was seeking out ball screens throughout 5v5 play and was willing to get bigs involved on the roll. She projects as a great system fit for that style, dribble drive, or any system that relies on guards to make plays. If I was coaching at a northeast D1, perhaps in the MAAC/NEC/America East, and looking for a backcourt punch in 2023... I'd be giving Liv a very hard look now. Anticipate her recruitment to hit its next stride at the Division I level in coming months.
Natalie Fox (6'3", Millbrook/Hoopers NY & Northstar Naturals 2024): As far as physical gifts go, no one in this session outdoes Natalie and no one has a higher ceiling. Although she did most of her damage around the rim at this event, she still showcased eye-opening versatility and mobility for her size & age. Her 5v5 team took on a P&R style with Natalie as the primary screener, and she showed the knowhow to roll where needed & present a target, soft hands to make catches in traffic, and finishing ability. She was one of the most impactful players at both ends of the court when fully engaged and is the prototype new-age big that can also stretch to the perimeter & move her feet on the defensive end. One of the event's most highly touted prospects already, her recruitment already has a national feel to it with close to 10 Division I offers from schools up to the Big East level.
Kailey Kalet (5'8", Union Springs/NY Royals 2023): I say the same thing to end every Kailey tweet... 'TOUGH!'. It's always fitting and remains so now. One of the most 'Kailey' moments of the day was when she caught a flying elbow & her nose sprung a pretty major leak. After taking it like a boxer with an iron chin and only eventually realizing she was bleeding, she missed about as much time as it took to clean the blood off the floor before being ready to enter again. So I say it again... TOUGH! But not just because of that. She made her presence felt from the jump in 3v3, bringing a different competitive edge to her court. She relentlessly probed & went downhill with explosion while also keeping her head up & making the right play. Although she spent more time getting paint touches offensively, she also knocked down a few threes with space. Not only did she get after it at the other end, she took the challenge of guarding the event's other top backcourt players and made plays defensively, on loose balls, & on the glass. When the D1 prospects play like they're trying to prove a point, it takes the event to another level, and Kailey brought it every possession. 5'8" combo guard with an incredibly college-ready frame & tireless work ethic that currently holds offers from Fairleigh Dickinson, Loyola (MD), & Merrimack... anticipate more coming into the fold in coming months.
Kaylee Krysztof (5'9", Depew/I-90 Elite 2023): Again, when the D1 kids play like they have a point to prove... KK is no stranger to EST events, having been to the last 3 Fall Showcases among other things. As far as these events go, I felt like this was her best showing. She's continued to stretch out & add to her frame, with that 5'6" freshman build now more like 5'9" a couple years later, and she's got some length to go with it. Her recruitment has taken off in 2021 with many coaches noting her elite perimeter shooting ability, and she did plenty of that - off the catch, off the dribble, off a screen, at the 3 point line, at the volleyball line, you name it. However, she also showed craftiness with the dribble to get to her spots, good touch around the rim & in-between game, willingness to absorb contact (which goes hand-in-hand with her physical development), and very good floor game, court vision, and ability/willingness to create for teammates. This was the most confident, poised, & vocal I've seen KK at an EST event, as it looks like she's grown into embracing being 'the girl'. Knockdown shooter? Absolutely, as good as they get in New York... but much more than that. One of NY's most actively targeted 2023s among D1 programs, she's already received offers from Albany, Binghamton, Canisius, Iona, Monmouth, Niagara, & St. Bonaventure with numerous other schools in the mix.
Kaety L'Amoreaux (5'6", Maine-Endwell/Hoopers NY 2023; Fordham commit): I've always said that the competitive gene of former Bishop Ludden star & current Michigan guard/captain Danielle Rauch may be incomparable to anyone else I've covered... time to compare the previously incomparable, because Kaety's desire to win & rip the heart out of her competition knows no limits. For 2.5 hours, she buzzed everywhere. All gas, no brakes, all day, both ends. She played with pace, toughness, and ferocity. Although she impacted her team's games offensively - the elite athleticism & finishing ability mixed with a much-improved perimeter J have made her a particularly tough cover - she changed games defensively. Fast, athletic, physical, active, relentless. It felt like everywhere a ballhandler turned, Kaety was there. To receive several D1 offers & commit to A-10 power Fordham as a 5'6" guard, there have to be some major separating qualities. Kaety is just different, and it showed once again at this event.
|Thumbs up from Kaety L'Amoreaux!|
5 PLAYERS THAT HAD BREAKOUT SHOWINGS (in my eyes)
Reece Beaver (5'7", Southwestern/I-90 Elite 2024): It wouldn't be a stretch to call Reece the breakout performer of the entire day. 3v3 at her age? Stood out. 3v3 against an older matchup? Stood out. 5v5 with the dogs? You guessed it... an incredible showing for a WNY standout that made sure people knew who she was by the end of the session. She got shots to fall from the jump, hitting 4 threes in 12 minutes during their first 3v3 game, and carried that forward throughout the session as her perimeter shooting touch was a great counter to her ability to put it on the deck & get downhill. She has grown a little, which makes a major difference for her finishing at the rim as she already had the mindset to attack, strength, and willingness to take contact. She played within herself offensively, but also put pressure on the D - no one spent more time at the FT line than Reece. She brought that same energy on the defensive end - sticking to the theme of highly competitive players in this session - and she was able to fluster some opposing guards. On top of that, although this often doesn't get noticed at individual showcases, it was clear that she's a major intangibles kid & doer of 'the little things'. As her floor game continues to expand on the ball & she gets more comfortable attacking with her left as well, she could find herself taking off to the next level. 'Impressed' may not even be a strong enough word for how I felt watching Reece work.
Allison Bono (5'7", Chester/Lady Ratz Elite 2023): Allison, true to her reputation, showed herself as the ultimate utility kid that could do a bit of everything - and as the day went on, she even took it to another level. It looked as though she felt the event out & started to settle in during 3v3 play, and then she turned it up a notch once they got up & down for 5v5 play. Allison's a lefty wing with a smooth shooting stroke & deep range, and she banged a handful from beyond the arc during her team's two 5v5 games. On the offensive end, she has the particularly valuable trait of being able to play off of others, a testament to her basketball IQ & feel for the game, and that allowed her to not only create scoring opportunities for herself on cuts, but proper off-ball movement to suck in help defenders also opened up shots for others. She also spent time defending players from the 1-4 spots. Another 'winning play' maker at this event and a 2023 prospect to monitor.
Megan Desrats (5'7", Warwick Valley/Lady Ratz Elite 2023): Keeping with Dustin VanLieu's Lady Ratz group, Megan has already developed some name recognition with her exploits in HS & AAU play and showed why in this setting as well. She's a high-IQ PG that packs a scoring punch while being able to effectively run an offense & make others better. She's a consistent perimeter shooter with range out to 25', and she plays off the shot well & is crafty with the dribble, effective at turning the corner & using her body to ward off defenders and stay in an advantageous position while probing. Her head stays up on drives, and she spent as much time putting teammates in positions to produce as she did for herself. Megan didn't get any easy matchups to say the least, and she stood strong throughout in a nice showing.
Emily Grasseler (6'0", Millbrook 2023): Word association for Emily... intriguing. A bouncy 6 footer with a great basketball frame & impressive athleticism, Emily looks like a blank canvas with great upside. She jumped off the screen during their 2nd 3v3 game, opening up the entire bag on a quality matchup with back-to-basket & face-up game, even stretching to the perimeter and knocking down a top of the key triple. Overall, she coupled the athleticism & ability to finish around backboard level with surprising craftiness while finishing with the right. She also ran the floor particularly hard during 5v5 play and got a handful of easy ones in transition because of it, and her motor & effort level remained high throughout the event. With time & continued focused development, I could see Emily being a late bloomer in 2023 that turns it into an impactful college career.
Caitlyn Rea (5'9", New Fairfield (CT)/Lightning Hart 2024): Speaking of bouncy & athletic... if we did combine testing at this event, I'd put my money on Caity with the vertical test. That jumping ability is in-game functional as well, so at 5'9", she consistently was able to get up with the 6'0"-6'3" bigs for rebounds, finished at the rim off 1 or 2 feet in traffic, and protected the rim with numerous help-side blocks. There wasn't a matchup that could really deal with her at her court in 3v3, and she played like a shark that smelled blood, relentlessly going after the advantage. In 5v5 play, she also posed a matchup problem by taking other forwards out to the perimeter & using her explosive athleticism to blow by. The physical tools always make themselves apparent from the first minute & she has the motor to match. As she continues to refine her game and gain some confidence with the jumper, she could start to realize her upside which I think is very high.
5 MORE YOUNGSTERS TO GET FAMILIAR WITH *NOW*
Kyleigh Chapman (5'10", Canandaigua/NY Royals 2024): I'll always have a thing for players with high basketball IQ, and not many in this session match Kyleigh. Mix that with great positional size/strength at the wing & a smooth flow to the lefty's game, and it's easy to see why I'm high on this 585er's potential. It started with 3 treys in her first 3v3 game, then she expanded on that with a few good drives & impressive finishes around the rim which perhaps were craftier & more athletic than I even give her credit for. That continued into 5v5, where although she honestly may not have got as many touches as I would've liked, she took advantage of opportunities and showed the third level with a couple midrange/short floaters. She made a particularly impressive play at the defensive end, anticipating the play in a 2v1 break and quickly recovering to block a layup from behind, which showed the feel & athleticism to change directions & get off the floor quickly. The short notes would be 'smart, skilled, strong, size, better athlete than I realized', which sounds like a good day at the office. Keep tabs on Kyleigh - with continued development, she checks all the boxes of a future scholarship level wing.
Mackenzie Owens (5'8", Springville-Griffith/I-90 Elite 2024): Kenzie is one of the more 'known commodities' of the youngsters in my coverage region, as she was already on the radar & making impact at the varsity level back in 7th grade. She's lit up EST middle school events in prior years, but this was the best showing she's had at a high school EST event to date. She coupled the well-known shooting prowess & range to the local Tim Horton's with willingness to use the dribble and attack the rim. She separated herself as a potent overall scorer from the early going in 3v3 play and that improvement off the bounce was particularly noticeable. Back at Springville-Griffith after a year at St. Mary's in Lancaster, I'd anticipate Kenz to be among WNY's more prolific producers this winter.
Kaila Richards (5'7", Hotchkiss School (CT)/New Heights NYC 2025): Back to the theme of high-level guards that have some dog in them... this was Kaila's first time at an EST event, and she made sure to put her stamp on it. The lefty PG is quick & explosive off the bounce and wants to put pressure on the D, and she continues to apply that pressure on the defensive end with quick & active hands/feet. She caused turnovers and unlike most at the event, she went out of her way to pick up full court at times. Although she wants to attack & get paint touches when possible, Kaila also showed the range with a couple perimeter Js. She started strong in 3v3 and after settling in during 5v5, she turned it up in their final game and showed why her reputation as one of NY's better 2025s is very warranted. What she currently brings to the table + physical aptitude and where I could see her being in 2-3 years... don't wait to get familiar with the name Kaila Richards. It was great to have the Queens native in the building.
Marisa Smith (6'2", Johnson City 2024): I've been able to see Marisa quite a bit in the last few months with her consistent presence at EST events (Summer Kickoff, 6 nights of Summer Run, now here), AAU with Elmira Fusion, and other outlets such as BX workouts. This in itself shows that Marisa, one of Section 4's most intriguing up & comers, is embracing the process of working, competing, and developing. She's about as intriguing as it gets in upstate NY, as what she currently possesses with her noticeable room to continue growing & developing make her someone that D1 programs must start to keep track of & monitor progress. At 6'2" (and perhaps still growing), she's a legitimate perimeter shooting threat with college 3 point range. When she drops into the post, something she does at this point but not all the time, she actually makes even more of a consistent impact - not only does she have the early workings of a post scoring skillset and finishing ability, but she's also a good passer out of the block that can hit cutters or shooters. Marisa's defensive value comes most frequently in the form of rim protection, where her height, length, and decent timing allow her to be a shot blocking presence. Marisa is someone that's fun to continue tracking in my opinion because you can actually see the pieces of her game being built & put together. As she continues to grow physically, grow into her body, develop the skillset, and other things like embrace the post/stretch balance, her game could very quickly elevate to another level & building a relationship early may pay long-term dividends for a collegiate program.
Ella Wilson (6'0", Lake-Lehman (PA)/NEPA Elite 2025): Ella was dominant in her first EST event, the MS Combine in May, and she took on the upper echelon high schoolers & held her own here. Throughout the day but especially during 3v3 play among 2024s/fellow 2025s, her athleticism stuck out as a long, rangy 6 footer that covers a lot of ground & gets off the floor. She's also put in work to move from more of a tweener skillset to more purely a wing. As a 2/3 that's a fluid, athletic 6 footer with some handle, deep range, and ability to play off the ball, her ceiling is about as high as anyone that was in the AM session. As she adds onto her skillset & gets stronger, look for D1 programs to potentially get in early.
THE NOTE SHEET: SOLID PERFORMANCES THAT DIDN'T GO UNNOTICED
Madalyn Barrows (5'8", Oxford/Twin Tier Elite 2023): Consistent & solid throughout the session... high IQ player that can fill either wing spot and play on the ball at times... known as a shooter, but showed progression in making plays going downhill off the dribble here
Hannah Bonczkowski (5'7", Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton/OBGC Fury 2023): Solid, smart player that brings the intangibles, even in an individual showcase... pure shooting stroke & consistently hit perimeter Js... plays on the ball more scholastically but showed ability to play more of the 2 guard here... played with confidence
Sophia Bonnell (5'5", Horseheads/Elmira Fusion 2024): Red hot for most of the day, particularly in 3v3 play where she was a true standout at her court... good shooter with deep range & not afraid to make the defense pay for giving her room... played off the shot at times & had a few finishes at the rim... PG by trade but knows how to play & be an option off the ball too
Grace Caterina (5'7", Sacred Heart (Buffalo)/Full Court Hoops 2024): Settled in during the event and turned it up during 5v5 play... capable shooter off the catch with a smooth stroke, got hot & hit several jumpers in one of their games... moves pretty well without the ball... IQ is clearly there, head is in the right place, but occasionally didn't have the strength to execute with her body what her head was thinking - with age & continued strength/physical development, this will change & she could see her game grow/expand
Haylee Ellwood (5'5", Sacred Heart (Long Island)/Crown Lightning 2024): High IQ player, looks like PG first but showed she could play off the ball too... knockdown shooter with deep range... good court vision & passing ability, particularly in transition... makes the right basketball play, good reads... has some craftiness to her game... overall solid showing
Cadence Hiller (5'10", Crestwood (PA)/Jr. Clutch 2023): First time watching Cadence more intently and she made her presence felt... pretty good athlete, strong & has some lift around the rim going off 2 feet... has 'tweener' qualities with some post & stretch capabilities... high motor, active around the rim and on the glass... knocked down a three at one point - becoming a more consistent & confident shooter will take her game to another level
Mia Little (5'3", Ithaca/Elmira Fusion 2023): Downhill PG that wants to attack & put pressure on the D... small, but willing to initiate & take contact at the rim... quick, gets to her spots & consistently gets paint touches... showed some vision on drives... gets up & unapologetically bothers ballhandlers defensively
Mackenzie Perluke (5'7", Wyoming Valley West (PA)/NEPA Elite 2024): A big takeaway of the day was how Mackenzie performed... has some burst off the bounce... will get to the rack & finish, capable of crafty makes around bigger defenders... has some midrange game and looked comfortable going to it when it was the right play... tough in transition... had recognition to realize mismatches and showed no mercy if she got one... enjoyed watching her compete, could be a problem in her region with physical/strength development
Chase Purdy (5'11", Lake-Lehman (PA)/NEPA Elite 2022): The individual showcase isn't a setting she's as used to, but started to look more comfortable as the session wore on... 'tweener' qualities, but showed more on the perimeter at this event than perhaps I realized she had... hit several threes with a couple considerably behind the college line... active on the glass, gets off the floor well & will relentlessly pursue the ball... recruitment has bridged the D2/D3 gap
Anna Scoblick (5'9", Abington Heights (PA)/NEPA Elite 2022): Used her elite athleticism to get out & run during 5v5 play... defended different types of players well at this event, from ball-dominant PGs to shooters & slashing wings, really provides value in defensive versatility... moves well without the ball offensively - would've liked to see her get more touches in 5v5 play, but produced & finished when she got it
Shoutout to all of the AM session's participants. Basically all corners of New York were represented, including NYSPHSAA sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (& MMA), 8, and 9, along with NYC, CT, and a strong representation from District 2 in PA. Loved every minute of having this group in the gym. Hang tight... the PM recap is coming eventually!