WESTWEGO, La. -- Basketball on the Bayou proved to be one of the more talent-laden events of the summer. With a thrilling finish in the Mardi Gras bracket and intense matchups throughout the event, we take a look at some of the rising seniors who made a statement with their play.
Paige Bradley (The Woodlands, Texas), DFW Washington-Black: This unassuming 5-9 combo guard will make you look silly if you relax on defense. She plays the slow to fast change of speed really well as well as being able to blow by defenders with a nice right-handed hesitation move. She's on the lean side, which is why some underestimate her and she uses that to her advantage, much like another recent Texan, Alexia Standish, a 2011 point guard who committed to Texas A&M. She does pick her dribble up in bad spots on the floor sometimes, which is probably because she needs to get stronger to excel in traffic. But one thing she can do without hesitation is shoot the basketball, and she had more than a few college recruiters mentioning her as one of the most improved players on the circuit.
Tiffany Davis (Houston, Texas), DFW Washington-Black: A teammate of Bradley's, this point guard was, well, on point. She isn't a pure athlete but has more than enough speed, quickness and strength to play with just about anyone. She uses her body to protect the ball and steer defenders on the dribble really well while not spending so much time trying to make contact that she loses the play. Davis will also use change of speed after gaining the initial advantage on her defender to create separation. The 5-7 prospect keeps her head on a swivel and, as you expect from your point guard, is wired to get her teammate the ball in scoring situations. The one knock from her Bayou performance was a tendency to be low with her pitches out to the wing on the drive. It happened more often when the defender was making contact and really making her work to get into the lane, but her passing is usually right on the money.
Brittany Atkins (Kansas City, Mo.), KC Select White: Watching a talented KC Select team on Day 1 with no roster was frustrating to say the least. Good thing for the players and scouts alike, we finally got names to match the players catching all the attention. Atkins' play at guard started with filling the lane and finished with sticking the 3-ball. She is at her best in transition and showed signs of being a very good, aggressive perimeter defender. When her team did generate turnovers, she showed very good speed filling the lane and great bounce to elevate in traffic and finish. The 5-foot-9 guard has some one-on-one breakdown ability too. She made a really difficult 3 off a dribble jab move when given a wing isolation.
Darius Faulk (Hempstead, N.Y.), Exodus NYC: There are very few in this class that can get to the rim as consistently as the 5-10 Faulk. She is simply explosive with her first step, a product of quickness, strength and attitude. She is about as physical as they come with the ball in her hands, and she is quick to expose soft defenders who don't like contact. She maintains her explosiveness through the entire dribble attack and plays through would-be help defenders that simply lean and swipe at her. She is starting to finish more consistently which leads to quite a few traditional 3-point plays. Defensively she is tenacious off the ball and good at anticipating in the passing lanes. With her Bayou performance, it is safe to say she earned her four-star rating.
Aisha Turner (College Park, Ga.), A.O.T.: So much attention goes to the scoring point guard that sometimes the big dogs miss on a player who truly fills her role at a high level. Turner may only be 5-5, but she is one of the better on-ball defenders in the class. She's no slouch on offense either; in fact she's a blur with the ball in transition and gets her long and athletic wings the ball on time to score. She is a capable scorer, but her ability to run a team a team in a transition game or with slower tempo makes her a rock solid point guard on the next level. The school that can get over her height is going to be very happy they did when push comes to shove.
Caitlyn Ramirez (Shawnee, Okla.), OK Team Air: A 6-2 forward that is a dynamic enough athlete to play the wing or drop down on the blocks will send coaches racing for their smartphones. Finding out that Ramirez has already committed to Tulsa was probably a downer for many but only because this kid can be an impact player. She caught our attention in Chicago at the Nike Summer Showcase and wasted little time recapturing it at the Bayou.
She can overpower most wings for rebounds or to finish in the lane but also has enough fluid athleticism to get up and down with the smaller wings in transition. At the forward position, she has a world of potential as most forwards will not be able to keep her in front from the high-post or short-corner. Couple that with the fact that they won't be able to easily bump her off her line, and you have a world of upside when she figures out what a matchup problem she is.
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Chris Hansen is the national director of prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz and covers girls' basketball and women's college basketball prospects nationally for ESPN.com. A graduate of the University of Washington with a communications degree, he has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a high school and club coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. He is a member of the McDonald's All-American team selection committee. Hansen can be reached at email@example.com.