Some of the best incoming freshman in college basketball were on display
LAS VEGAS — After the past few years of being held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Jordan Brand Classic was held out West in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena. The game is a culmination of the high school basketball season, and a showcase of some of the senior talent in the country.
The girl’s game was the first event to tip-off, and based on their performances, college basketball is in good hands. Here’s a look at some of the biggest takeaways from Las Vegas.
South Carolina reloaded
It’s been two years since the Gamecocks won their first ever national championship in 2017. Since then, they’ve been trying to get back to that level. They made it to the Sweet 16 this past season, but will be losing up to four players, including leading scorer Te’a Cooper, due to transfer.
Reinforcements are on the way, however. Head coach Dawn Staley has one of the best recruiting classes in the nation coming in next season. Three of those players, Zia Cooke, Breanna Beal, and Aliyah Boston displayed their talents over the weekend.
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Cooke was named Co-MVP of the game, and showed off her elite playmaking. She was great in the open court, knowing when to look for her own shot and when to facilitate and create for her teammates. Beal was clutch down the stretch, showing her ability to get to the rim in multiple ways whether it was on a post-up or in transition. Boston was a factor on the glass, finishing with double-figures in rebounding, and was generally a presence in the paint.
Haley Jones is a special player
The other player to share MVP honors with Cooke, Jones showed why she was widely considered the top girls basketball player in the country. A very versatile player, Jones can play multiple positons.
In the game, she displayed her ability to handle the ball and initiate the offense coming up court, shoot from distance, put the ball on the floor and attack off the dribble, and crash the glass. She’ll be off to Stanford next season, where she headlines another of the top recruiting classes in the nation.
Pac-12 getting stronger
There’s no question the Pac-12 was one of the best conferences in women’s college basketball this season. Oregon and Stanford were consistently top 10 ranked teams. Oregon State, UCLA, Cal, and Arizona State all found themselves in the national rankings at various points in the season as well.
Some of the top players from those teams such as Maite Cazorla, Alanna Smith, Kennedy Burke, and Kianna Ibis will be starting their pro careers, but the Jordan Brand Classic made clear that there is a great group of incoming freshmen.
UCLA’s backcourt of the future, Charisma Osborne and Jaden Owens, spent time together in the backcourt at times during the game. Osborne is capable of playing both guard positions and can shoot well from three. Owens is a tough defender with great playmaking ability.
USC could possibly lose almost half of their team as six players, headlined by junior standout Minyon Moore, entered their names in the transfer portal. They’ve got some reinforcements arriving, though. They also have a top recruiting class headlined by Angel Jackson. Jackson had 13 points in the Jordan Brand Classic, and is a force in the low post both offensively and defensively.
Jones isn’t the only player arriving in Palo Alto next season, Future Stanford teammates Fran Belibi and Ashten Prechtel also took the court with her at the game. Belibi is deadly in transition, able to handle the ball all the way to the rim and finish with contact. Prechtel is a frontcourt player who can also step out and shoot from three-point range.
Notre Dame guard play
The Fighting Irish are losing their entire starting lineup to the WNBA. Replacing them will be no easy task, but Anaya Peoples is definitely up for the challenge. She’s incredibly quick off the dribble and able to get to wherever she wants on the court. A complete guard who knows when to look for her shot and when to create for her teammates. She’s also a very good rebounder for her position.
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