If you're a basketball enthusiast, October 3 wasn't your typical Sunday in Scranton. Far from it.
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. 54 of those players were responsible for finishing the day off strong in the PM session, which ended up running from approximately 12:30-3 PM. 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 afternoon session review:
|All smiles from Alexis Ferguson, Faith Walker, Molly Boek, & Kaelah Carter. They played like this was how they felt, and it translated. Catch all four of them in the writeup below!|
- With events that have open registration, you can only control so much with things like positional balance. That showed itself when comparing each session. I mentioned this in the previous article (just the other way around), but where the earlier session was backcourt heavy, this group was particularly rich in wings/tweener types. There was no shortage of length & versatility at the wing spots, many standing in the 5'9"-6'1" range, and some with particularly high ceilings. Interesting how each session had some individuality.
- Although the percentage wasn't quite as high as the morning, there were still a high number of new faces. Out of the afternoon session's 54 participants, 25 of them were EST first-timers. That means that in all, out of the 106 players that came through the gym, 54 (approx. 51%) were in an EST event for the first time. Usually for the high school showcases, the number of first-timers is more like 30-40%. 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.
- The afternoon session in itself might show an expansion of the EST footprint that I'm very excited about. 7 NYSPHSAA sections were represented (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (and MMA), 9), but on top of that, 5 states in all were represented with players from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, & Pennsylvania - many of them being on-court difference makers at the event - joining the New Yorkers. It was great to see more of a melting pot of the Northeast & Mid-Atlantic in the gym getting after it with a common goal.
|There were many new faces to EST events that made major impact during the day. Cat Carrafiello, a 2023 out of Section I Briarcliff, was one of the leaders of the pack.|
- On multiple occasions during each event, I attempt to relay the same couple messages. First... We don't keep score here for a reason; I want to see who will compete at a high level & make 'winning plays' even when the score doesn't matter. The players that consistently do those things are the ones that tend to stand out, regardless of talent level. And second... the teams that communicate, try to play together, and do the 'compete & make winning plays' message as a unit tend to perform well at these events. The teams that perform well also tend to have the players that stand out. This is not a coincidence! If we're being transparent, some teams took that message to heart more than others. In 5v5 play, those teams ended up having more success. The players on those teams, for the most part, also had more individual success. Many of the players you'll see information on below played on those teams. I'll say it again... THIS IS NOT A COINCIDENCE!
- The early session had a pretty deep group of standouts whose recruitment is already hot at the scholarship level. While the PM session also had some of that (led by Lafayette commit Emma Shields), this was a group where the storyline reads more like 'watch them when they're 20'. Even D1 committed Emma is in that boat too. Many of the players with the highest ceilings & greatest upsides at the entire event were in this session. From young guards coming into their own to wings/forwards growing into their bodies that are showing signs of 'putting it all together', you'll likely see a few of these players eventually garnering high major D1-type attention down the road & several more using development in their late teens to flourish into all-conference type players at their respective schools.
The AM session review (Empire State Takeover Basketball: The Review: 7th Annual EST Fall Showcase (AM Session)) revolved around the number 5. This session wasn't like that one, and it'd make no sense to keep the same format. However, while reviewing notes, another number came to mind. Among many good performances, I thought 7 players from the 2022/23 classes & another 7 from the 2024/25 classes separated themselves with their level of play & consistency over the course of 2.5 hours on the court. With that in mind, let's start with the upperclass(wo)men:
'STELLAR SEVEN': THE OLDHEADS (2022-23 CLASSES - in alphabetical order)
Molly Boek (6'0", Saugerties/NY Havoc 2023): If there's one thing you'll quickly learn about Molly, it's that she always brings the energy. From the opening minutes of 3v3 to literally the final seconds of 5v5, where she tracked down a loose ball for an offensive rebound & finished at the rim before the buzzer, the energy was there & her motor was relentless, a testament to her desire to compete and level of conditioning. What she also brought on this day though... the buckets. I know score & point totals don't matter to me at these events, but as a guideline to her scoring production... 10 points in 3v3 Game 1, 15 points in 3v3 Game 2, 12 points in 5v5 Game 1, 18 points in 5v5 Game 2. She was one of only two players in this session that contributed double figures in every game. True to form, a good number of these were hustle points - offensive rebounds, loose balls, steals/layups, streaking transition opportunities - but she showed the ability to create & score around the rim off the dribble in 1v1 situations and also knocked down several jumpers, mainly midrange pull-up Js. On top of all that, she brought pretty much everything we group into the term 'intangibles'. From the aforementioned motor to positive vocal leadership, Molly had all of the immeasurables that seem to help teams win in abundance. Her team played exceptionally for the 2nd straight Fall Showcase, and I don't think it's a coincidence that she's always on the team that kills it. Versatile 6 footer with legitimate upside. Breakout day from one of the 845's finest.
Cat Carrafiello (5'7", Briarcliff/Empire 2023): If an Empire kid walks in the gym, it's a foregone conclusion that they know how to play. This was clearly the case with Cat, and as the EST first-timer settled into the event, her play only improved over the course of the day as the phrase 'basketball is a universal language' rang true, even around many unfamiliar faces. Cat is a skilled guard that had success playing both on & off the ball, scored at three levels, competed hard, and made the right read offensively much more often than not. Sounds like a recipe for success. She showed the fluid perimeter J from early on, and as 5v5 wore on, she took advantage of more opportunity to make plays off the bounce. Though a righty, she had a great deal of success putting it on the deck going left, whether it turned into a finish at the rim or a midrange J. She also hit a couple floaters on right-hand drives. She reads her primary defender particularly well & does a good job getting to advantageous spots on the floor. What was every bit as important to me was that she consistently made the right basketball play & noticeably competed to the final whistle. If Cat continues to develop as expected, it's highly likely that she'll be playing collegiate basketball on scholarship in a couple years.
Kaelah Carter (5'7", Shaker/I-90 Elite 2022; Saint Rose commit): And now to someone whose scholarship future is already set. Kaelah's recent commitment to Division II Saint Rose didn't stop her from coming through this event, which was honestly not a surprise - there aren't many diehard hoopers that have embraced the grind quite like her. For a long time, Kaelah's greatest value was being the ultimate role player that could fill the stat sheet & find ways to produce while playing off of others. She still has all of those valuable tools - moves well without the ball & knows when/how to make different cuts, good finisher at the rim, very good rebounding guard, trustworthy defender of the 1-3 spots, etc. However, the biggest recent development in Kaelah's game is partially a mental one, as she's shown clear signs of embracing more of a 'go-to player' role. With that, she's become more aggressive offensively, and with that mindset matching her versatile skillset, she's quickly developing into a dangerous & more potent scorer. This was the most assertive she's been at an EST one-day event, and it paid dividends for her team as she showed the perimeter J, drives & finishes, post buckets on smaller matchups, and of course, several baskets off cuts & transition opportunities. For a long time, I thought Kaelah was one of the least talked about higher level players in our region, so it made me happy to see her local D2 jump for her. Now, it's looking like Kaelah will make many others wish they did the same.
Alexa Kulakowski (6'0", Cicero-North Syracuse/I-90 Elite 2022): As far as breakout performers go, there can't be anyone that outdid Alexa at this event. Incredible performance for one of the 315's best kept secrets, and for her sake, I hope the secret is over. Kulakowski is a 6 footer at the wing that's known mainly as a knockdown perimeter shooter, and she did plenty of that with at least a couple threes in every game she played. It was more than that though, as she showed expanded ability to use the dribble & score in different ways. A couple of her threes were sidestep jumpers off shot fakes, and she added several midrange pull-up Js, a few 8'-12' floaters, and a few finishes at the rim. When she had a matchup she could take advantage of, she quickly recognized it & went to work, showing her ability to read matchups & game situations. She has a particularly fluid jumper with a quick & compact release; couple that with her exceptional positional height at the wing, and an average shot contest doesn't bother her like it does most. Some of the non-perimeter shooting aspects have been question marks, and to me, she answered many of them at this event. She got hot & kept it rolling for 2.5 hours. I was extremely impressed with Alexa's overall performance, and looking at where she's at currently & her physical attributes, it's easy to see the potential for continued growth in her college years. In my eyes, she's shaping up to be a legitimately viable option for a D2 program looking for a potent scoring option at the wing, and I think she'd be a steal for nearly any D3.
Leah Middleton (5'11", Auburn/I-90 Elite 2023): I was definitely familiar with what Leah brought to the table & her game has grown on me quickly this year, but the overall package she showed during this event was simply something I didn't expect. Clearly a breakout performer here & someone whose future college 'projection' is skyrocketing in my eyes. I've thought of her as a knockdown shooter that can do some other things offensively by playing off the shot. She didn't take or hit many threes on this day (3, with 1 coming in 5v5 play), but she was impactful and often a standout by doing other things & showing the full range of her game. She's a 5'11" wing with exceptional fluid athleticism & some explosion. Right from the jump, I was impressed with Leah's ability to put the ball on the floor and make a play, as she broke her defender down off the bounce & got to the rim countless times. She was able to get some mismatches with forwards on her at various times and always recognized & took advantage. On top of that, her court vision & passing ability actually may have been the most impressive part of what Leah showed at the event. She had several beautiful on-time/on-target feeds, mainly to cutters in the half-court or hitting ahead to streaking teammates in transition. She was another one that showed strong conditioning on top of the athleticism, as her play didn't slow down in the final minutes like many others around her. Leah's upside smacks you in the face watching her - 5'11", long & athletic, physical abilities that coaches die for in wings, and it's easy to see even more room for growth down the road. Her on-ball development, making plays 1v1 off the dribble & creating for herself and others, was eye-opening. Another one in the '315's best kept secret' boat, and the word is starting to spread. Precisely what level will depend a lot on development over the next several months, but Leah has cemented herself as a scholarship level prospect.
Emma Shields (6'3", Emma Willard/Philly Rise 2022; Lafayette commit): Many times while watching game film, I found myself saying 'just get Emma the ball & let her do something with it'. It was one of those days for Emma, who showed why the Patriot League might have a problem on their hands in the future. As a legitimate 6'3" player that can score in the low post, midpost, and perimeter with the shot or using the dribble, she's as uniquely talented & intriguing of a player as there was in the building. When she plays with some bounce in her step on top of the skill she brings, it makes her a very difficult cover, and she generally brought that willingness to attack. She got herself going with a lot of midrange work, either off midpost catch & faces or pull-up jumpers off 1v1 dribble moves, with a couple shots in particular being high level makes over good contests that likely no one else in the session could've made. From there, the scoring arsenal opened up with some low post work & eventually the stretch to the perimeter, where she banged three triples as part of a dominant offensive showing in their final 5v5 game. As Emma gets acclimated with the college level weight room/S&C program next year and continues growing into her body - she's continued to grow through her high school years - the only direction you'll see her go is up. She's the type of player that you anticipate continuing to get better through their late teens & early-mid 20s. Though I love having her around & am certainly not rushing the future, I'm looking forward to seeing that continued growth at the next level. People with her physical capabilities, basketball skill, & overall high ceilings don't come around every day; if her play at this event and in the last couple months has shown me anything, it's that Emma is starting to realize that potential.
Kaya Weiskopf (5'11", Ridgefield (CT)/Empire 2023): Last but not least, Kaya is another 2023 prospect that shows great upside and is starting to put the pieces together & come into her own. She only needs to walk into the gym to notice attribute #1 - the college-ready frame. Once the ball's inbounded, she shows a skillset every bit as intriguing. At 5'11", Kaya is a very capable shooter with a pure stroke & range beyond the pro lines. She's also crafty with the dribble, has a little spice to her game & can create off the bounce. Though I like her more at the wing in a position where she can move without the ball & get freedom for the jumper, she showed offensive versatility with solid on-ball capabilities as well. On the defensive end, she's pretty athletic & covers a lot of ground in short bursts, which allowed her to jump passing lanes & get deflections on several occasions. Overall, she was a model of consistency that never got too high or too low over the course of the day. In short, Kaya passes the all-important eye test from the jump & then adds to it with her skill level & basketball knowhow. Like a few others on this list, Kaya has the look of someone that has the potential for continued growth & development into her 20s, and I would fully anticipate seeing her continue her basketball days at the scholarship level in a couple years.
'STELLAR SEVEN': THE YOUNG GUNS (2024-25 CLASSES - in alphabetical order)
Brianna Barr-Buday (6'2", Nichols School/XGen Elite 2024): With existing Division I offers from Buffalo & Niagara already, Bri might be the most highly touted recruit on this 2024/25 list at this stage, but as always, she played with 'point to prove' sort of energy & ferocity. This wasn't a huge scoring day for Bri, but it never needs to be due to the positive impact she consistently makes on the glass & with her overall physical presence. How she scored was interesting & noteworthy though, as much of it veered away from her usual back-to-basket post play. She's showing increased skill & comfort facing up, and she was able to attack off the dribble from the top of the key or wing & finish at the rim on several occasions, even pulling out a floater over a taller/longer defender at one point. It's also not necessarily a guarantee that the D1 kids - or anyone at the event, for that matter - stays mentally locked in & invested in the game while on the bench. Even during 3v3, while she was out, the only thing I could hear on the game film was Bri on the side cheering for her teammates. Showcasing the positives you bring as both 'the player' and 'the person' in the same day is always a good day at the office. Bri, as usual, put both sides on display.
Finley Bittenbender (5'2", Scranton (PA)/NEPA Elite 2024): Finley was quickly able to establish herself as one of the better young guards in this session, and a lot of it centered around her exceptional shooting ability. Despite being one of the event's shortest players at 5'2", her quick & compact release allowed her to get her shot off without trouble among generally much taller backcourt players, and she consistently knocked shots down, particularly from beyond the arc. Most of it came off the catch, but she did show ability to create space into the shot with the dribble at times as well. She also moved well off the ball & showed a lot of the general 'basketball IQ' characteristics. It was a familiar setting for her, as you could walk out of the facility & see her high school just on the other side of the Turkey Hill - solid day for the hometown kid.
Alexis Ferguson (5'10", Central Dauphin (PA)/Team Pennsylvania 2024): I don't get wowed much in this game anymore. I've watched girls play that tower over my 6'6" frame, I've watched girls dunk on countless occasions by now, I've seen some of the quickest & best the country's had to offer in recent years. All that being said: the kind of bounce that Lex has come from those two legs... just wow. Watch her get off the floor once, and your eyes will be glued the rest of the day to see what else is coming. She showed it offensively, finishing over anyone and getting hands around the backboard on 2-foot finishes in traffic with ease, and she even stepped out & knocked down a three at one point. The defensive end is where that athleticism made life most difficult for others though, as she would rise up above everyone to corral rebounds, effectively trap ballhandlers & get deflections with the rangy athleticism, and use the bounce & good timing to be as effective of a rim protector as anyone in the building. She blocked several shots coming from help side, and at one point, she even caught one in the air, which she used to spring a transition opportunity & hit her homie Faith (more on her below) for an open three. The tremendous upside & room for growth is very apparent - it's impossible to watch Lex and not think about where she could be with her development down the road, and if I was at a MM/LM D1, I'd start to get familiar & keep a watchful eye in her direction. I do most of my winter work within the NY borders, but a trip to the Harrisburg area might have to happen to watch her with PA power Central Dauphin this season.
Audrey Shields (6'1", Emma Willard/Philly Rise 2024): If there was such a thing as a 'pocket Audrey', I'd be the first person to have one, simply so when people ask me what things I look for in my personal prototype basketball player, I could just pull Audrey out & say 'here, this'. 6'1", long, can play on or off the ball, has good athleticism but balances it with skill & craftiness, versatile scoring ability, defends multiple positions, always physically engaged/mentally focused & makes the right play, high IQ & coachable, and still not a finished product with clear room to continue developing... she literally may check every box. Some of those attributes came in handy during this event, as she consistently made positive impact for her teams despite it not being her best shooting day. Offensively, she had her most success putting it on the deck & finishing in various ways around the rim. Among all the positive attributes, Audrey has an elite skill - she's as good as I've seen at creating an angle off the bounce & using her body to keep the defender in a disadvantageous spot as she gets to the rim. She did that time & time again, controlling the contact by creating it after using her long strides to get a step on her defender. She can finish over the top of many defenders and is also adept at finishing different ways & using different angles with either hand among the bigs. She used that length along with timing & good basketball feel to make an impact on the defensive end as well, as she seemingly tipped almost anything in her area & showed better rim protection ability than any other guard at the event. The jumper was a little off, but I wrote this a couple times in my notes: 'not shooting well, but playing well'. Not allowing that to impact all of the other things she brings is a testament to Audrey's maturity at this age, and she was consistently making positive impact. For my money, there is no one better in upstate NY's 2024 class than her, and I anticipate Audrey having a menagerie of D1 programs to choose from in the next year or two.
Gabby Stuart (5'6", Shenendehowa 2024): With how Gabby has looked in recent months along with some Summer Run experience, I anticipated a strong showing here. She didn't disappoint. I was hoping that her court presence would be a separator in 5v5 play. It was. Everything that I was hoping to see, Gabby showed it and stood out because of it. She played extremely hard, was first to the floor for loose balls, showed very good rebounding ability & instinct from the guard spot and was willing to be physical. These are all hallmarks to her game. The skill with the ball in her hands & ability to quickly make correct reads are where the most notable development has come from. On several occasions, she led the break, made the right decision with the ball in her hands, & her team scored because of it. That came in the form of pulling up on a retreating defender to hit a 15 footer, making the extra dribble to draw her defender in a 2v1 to set up a teammate, or pulling it out when the situation didn't look great to operate in the half-court. I preach 'winning plays' - between the production, picking her spots, & countless hustle plays, Gabby did a lot of that.
Faith Walker (6'0", West York Area (PA)/Team Pennsylvania 2024): If we're talking about upside & 'high ceilings', Faith's might be in the sky somewhere. While I'm making that Harrisburg trip to watch her aforementioned AAU teammate Alexis Ferguson play this winter, I'll have to add the extra 45 minutes to get to York for Faith. As a legitimate 6 footer, she showed the ability to play at the wing or the 4, though she's definitely a more natural wing. She's a fantastic basketball athlete - length, speed, quickness & acceleration, fluidity, and she gets off the floor pretty well. She's great at playing off of others, moves well without the ball, knows when to make certain cuts and moves with urgency. This not only gave her scoring opportunities, but a strong cut through allowed teammates to eat at different times too. Faith also showed the range throughout the event, knocking down several threes over the course of the day. Most of her 5v5 treys came in transition, where she would space the floor by running to the line in the right situations. She played off the shooting ability in the half-court & got downhill off the bounce on several occasions, and with the elite athleticism, she was tough to contain in transition. As far as scoring the ball goes, it felt like with the versatility, she never did it the same way twice in a row. On top of that, Faith showcased herself as a willing passer that hit cutters, got bigs involved, and would spark the break in 5v5 play by getting it out of her hands quickly & hitting ahead in transition. The effort & motor stayed at a high level throughout, and she was one of the more well-conditioned athletes in attendance. Faith picked up her first offer recently, and it wasn't a bad school to start off with as Fordham entered the sweepstakes in September. My first thought was strong MM or potential HM type player if she continues to develop & approach what it looks like her full potential could be. Expect no shortage of D1 programs to join the party if all goes well in the next 12-18 months.
Carolina Williams (5'6", Ichabod Crane/Albany Capitals Team McBride 2025): In the three-team group that Carolina was a part of in 5v5 play, out of 26 players, she was the only 2025. Well, she also had one of the best showings out of everyone, so welcome to the party, young buck. If you've followed me on social media in recent months, you know how much I love her game and how well she's played recently. She's also been busy during the fall, getting out to various events such as Blue Star All-American Camp & NYGHoops Fall Super 64 among others, and she's consistently performed well which has helped put her on the radar of others too. That all culminated with a breakout showing in Scranton. With a combo of surehandedness with the dribble and utilization of change of speed & direction moves, the even-keeled PG consistently gets where she wants on the court. Lina controls tempo with the ball in her hands, consistently makes good reads, and is starting to develop the 'puppet master' quality where she can dictate what the other 9 players do when she has it. The scoring piece picked up as the day went on, as she started to get it going late in 3v3 with a couple threes, a couple midrange Js, & a couple finishes at the rim. That carried into 5v5, where she put it all together and balanced scoring herself & creating opportunities for teammates. I don't say this lightly and they're each their own individual of course, but it's easy to watch Carolina and see some shades of 518 great Dolly Cairns, now coming off an A-10 All-Rookie Team campaign at Rhode Island. It's obviously early as her freshman campaign at Ichabod Crane hasn't even started yet, but I would expect (and advise) many D1 programs to start building a relationship with Lina early in the game.
|The way she cooked at the Fall Showcase, it was more like Carolina BBQ Williams. Quick pause to pose for the camera!|
THE NOTE SHEET: SOLID PERFORMANCES THAT DIDN'T GO UNNOTICED (2022-23)
Ashley Ames (5'6", Ichabod Crane/Albany Capitals 2023): Plays with some bounce in her step, seems to be in the play often... has some craftiness with the ball & some athleticism... very good in 3v3 play, where she scored at three levels and showed good finishing ability at the rim
Sophie Auer (5'8", Lewiston-Porter/Buffalo Titans 2023): Might as well call Sophie the 8th member of 2022/23's Stellar Seven because she was right there with them... combination of speed/quickness off the dribble & strength/explosion around the rim can make her a matchup nightmare for many, and it caused a lot of defenders trouble here... exceptional finisher at the rim, especially if she gets to her right, where she finishes well through contact & has the bounce to get over defenders several inches taller... attacks with ferocity and plays with a fearlessness about her... great rebounder for size... tough in transition and got a handful of buckets on the break in 5v5 play... did most work at the rim here, but showed range by stepping out & knocking down a three... motor & compete level are in a different stratosphere than most.
Jaidyn Chest (5'4", Johnstown/NY Havoc 2023): As usual, Jaidyn brought the energy from the first minute of 3v3... didn't score a ton, but showed the range as most of it here was from behind the arc when she got some space... it was rare to see anyone able to turn the corner on her - speed & lateral quickness, high compete level, active hands & feet caused problems for a lot of other guards and noticeably frustrated a couple... often picked up 94 feet during 5v5 play... her PG play spearheaded an athletic, energetic group in 5v5 in part because she didn't hold onto it long - always was looking up & willingly advanced the ball quickly with the pass, and got several assists hitting ahead in transition.
Morgan Giancaterino (5'9", Sacred Heart (Buffalo)/I-90 Elite 2022): To steal phrase from earlier, 'you don't have to shoot it well to play well' - off day from the field by her standards, but didn't let it impact other parts of her game and made positive impact... had opportunity to play on the ball a little during 3v3 - got to spots off the dribble & looked to get others involved... superb athlete that moved faster than the camera could process a few times, a lightning bolt in transition... gets hands on passes... holds D2 offers and has potential to make an impact at that level.
Gianna Guzman (5'7", Mater Dei Prep (NJ)/Team Miller 2023): Shook off a rough start and bounced back with strong play in the back end of 3v3 & all of 5v5 - settled in & played under control... quick off the bounce and won't play with it, looks to get straight to the rack... once she did that & finished a few times, the D started playing off, and she made them pay by hitting a few threes too... picked her spots in 5v5, continued to show the scoring package but picked her spots & created for teammates, showing a more all-around floor game at the PG spot... confident & competitive, plays with some fire.
Delaney More (5'9", Ichabod Crane/Albany Capitals 2023): Strong, physical forward that can play back-to-basket or facing up... willing to be physical and will create/control the contact around the rim... moves well without the ball - block-to-block, hard dives from perimeter/high post into low post, rises from low post on dribble penetration... has a motor that doesn't quit... showed expansion out of the post game with an explosive drive & made pull-up jumper going right... brought the 'intangibles' too.
Cameryn Wilders (5'7", Shenendehowa 2023): Fall events are often where players look rusty, but that wasn't the case with Cam - looks like she's in basketball season mode... looked a little more comfortable with the dribble and was getting downhill, particularly going to her right... moves well without the ball & plays well off others... seemed to live around the rim at this event... had several athletic finishes at the rim among taller/longer defenders... willing to take contact, got to the line a few times in 5v5... will stay in control on drives and come to a 2 foot stop in the paint instead of making out-of-control decisions... nice showing overall for Cam.
MORE NOTE SHEET: SOLID PERFORMANCES THAT DIDN'T GO UNNOTICED (2024-25)
Kennedy Bittenbender (5'2", Scranton (PA)/NEPA Elite 2024): Capable creator/distributor on the ball with some skill & craftiness... contrary to aforementioned twin sis Finley, Kennedy had more of her success offensively attacking off the dribble... changes speeds well, kept defenders off balance... had the IQ & feel to understand when she had an advantageous matchup and usually went to work against it... possesses some of the basketball feel & savvy that you look for in a PG.
Morgan Brewer (5'8", Holy Names/Albany Lady Stars 2025): If there was an 8th member of the 2024-25 'Stellar Seven', it'd be hard to choose against Morgan for that spot... shows a preference to try & get to the rim, and has the ability to manufacture points in close range with finishing ability & good short range touch on floaters & runners... will hit the 3 if given to her... plays with high motor & a lot of energy, makes the hustle plays and will swoop in to rebound from the guard spot... 'figuring it out' - understanding how to play the game both on & off the ball and provides value as a utility player on the offensive end
Ellie Clearwater (5'7", Elmira/Elmira Fusion 2024): Combo guard type with a lot of PG experience and generally had to play PG at this event... limitless range on the jumper - defender needs to open the car door for her & pick her up from the driveway... she hit a handful from beyond the deepest lines at Riverfront... though most of her work was done from deep on this day, she's a confident & capable scorer as a whole... best game was her last one, where she played with more tempo & more of a sense of urgency.
Maggie Coleman (5'7", Abington Heights (PA)/NEPA Elite 2025): A red hot start got one of NEPA's better 2025s going from the jump... knockdown perimeter shooter that doesn't need much room to get it off... played off the perimeter J, hit a couple midrange Js & got to the rim a few times as well... showed in-between game with a couple floaters... cuts hard & with a purpose, sprints to spots and plays with a bounce in her step... her game seems to fit well with the free-flowing style of this kind of event... has shown noticeable progression since the Middle School Combine in May.
Brenna Hunt (5'7", Lake-Lehman (PA) 2024): Truly a new face as this was my first time seeing Brenna play, and she left a pretty good first impression... good positional size - listed at 5'7", but presents as taller than that in game film and plays much taller than that... good athlete that has a pretty high release and rises off the floor on jumpers - the average shot contest doesn't bother her... was able to get to spots off the dribble and took decent shots... loves the midrange game, hit several pull-up jumpers and even knocked down a technically sound turnaround fadeaway in the mid-post that not many players in attendance could've done... moves pretty well without the ball... more comfortable at the wing, but has a little 1v1 package with her as well... generally made 'the right play' offensively... the upside is definitely there, and as she continues to challenge herself, develop, and learn the game at the defensive end, I'm curious to see where she'll be at in a year - I'm now paying attention.
Payton Littlefield (5'8", Edison/Elmira Fusion 2024): Known as a shooter & showed it - smooth stroke with volleyball-line sort of range & knocked down a couple deep ones... looked like she was getting used to this kind of setting & settled in as 5v5 progressed... spent time playing both on the ball & at the wing and showed comfort in both... overall smooth player that didn't get sped up... good positional size & physical aptitude is greater than many others - not close to a finished product, intriguing guard that has room for potential growth, and continued development over the next year will go a long way in determining what level prospect she becomes.
Mariah Luke (5'10", Binghamton 2024): Good, physical type frame at the forward spot... showed some back-to-basket ability, but spent more time & showed a little more comfort facing up... had a dominant stretch in 3v3 where she put it all together offensively with back-to-basket, face-up, & high post play... showed a little more range in 5v5 with a three & foot-on-line two... has natural physical tools & room to grow.
That puts a bow on it for the EST Fall Showcase Review. Seven years in the books and it certainly hasn't stopped being fun. More will be coming in the next few weeks, mainly in the form of highlight clips, but it's now also onto high school season and some other projects to do with that (mainly based around the website). EST events 2021... it's a wrap!