Haley Jones and Archbishop Mitty headline starry field at Nike Tournament of Champions
You won't find a more impressive gathering of girls' basketball talent anywhere than you will this week at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix. Top teams, including No. 1 St. John's College of Washington, D.C., are there. Top players, including the No. 1 senior, the No. 2 junior and the No. 1 sophomore, are there as well.
Here are 10 players who can stand out even among that kind of crowd.
Latasha Lattimore: Fresh off a hot recruiting battle for Canadian star Laeticia Amihere (South Carolina), we're spotlighting the next great prospect from our neighbor to the north. Lattimore, a 6-foot-4 post player ranked 14th in the espnW HoopGurlz Terrific 25, attends Crestwood Prep (Toronto). She's an explosive athlete who is playing at the rim. The top U.S. schools will be lining up.
Charisma Osborne: If it's scoring you like, it's Osborne you'll like. The 5-foot-9 combo guard won a gold medal with the USA Basketball U17 team over the summer and is headed to UCLA next fall. For now, you can catch her starring for No 4. Windward (Los Angeles), a title contender in the tournament's top division.
Cavina Rickards: The 5-foot-8 guard is the No. 85 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100, but blink and she may have moved up. She's one of the fastest stock-risers in the class. She's a mid-range scoring artist who will be suiting up for the Gators next season. For now, she's part of a loaded team at Christ the King -- we're talking seniors Kaelynn Satterfield (Ohio State) and Klarke Sconiers (Minnesota) and junior Natalija Marshall -- but Rickards may wind up the best of the bunch.
Azzi Fudd: What more can we say about the No. 1 sophomore? We've already told you that she's arguably the best high school player -- regardless of class -- in the country. And that she struck gold on the U17 team over the summer. And that she's a model of consistent superiority at St. John's (Washington, D.C.), which takes the No. 1 national ranking to Phoenix. So how about a new question. Can Fudd, who appears to be a model teammate, lead her team to four straight wins against some of the best teams in the country 2,000 miles from home? That's worth watching.
Malu Tshitenge-Mutombo: Fudd won't have to do it alone. Tshitenge-Mutombo, the No. 56 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100, has signed with North Carolina. But for now she's focused on being part of a one-two punch that keeps St. John's at No. 1. Tshitenge-Mutombo, a 6-foot-3 post player, is a rebounder deluxe and an agile threat who knows how to find her way to the free-throw line.
Angel Jackson: The 6-foot-5 senior at Salesian (Richmond, California) and No. 36 prospect is headed to USC. She's fond of creating masterpieces in the paint -- on offense, defense and in transition. She has a physical back-to-the-basket game and can also face-up and deliver.
Eboni Walker: The 6-foot senior wing at Centennial (Las Vegas) is athletic and versatile and relentless. She's also a Nike Tournament of Champions veteran who knows how to seize the stage. Walker will be heading to Arizona State next season.
Celeste Taylor: This 5-foot-11 guard from New York's Long Island Lutheran is headed to Texas. She already has won two gold medals with USA Basketball. She's a high flier and explosive in transition. She's also got range on her jumper.
Cameron Brink: She's the No. 2 junior in the country, and the scary thing is that the 6-foot-4 forward at Southridge (Oregon) keeps getting better. She's a skilled shot blocker who is finding ways to make an impact on both ends of the floor. Could it be the Curry connection?
Haley Jones: Last but not least, we give you the No. 1 senior in the nation. Jones, a USA Basketball gold medalist who signed with Stanford last month, willed Archbishop Mitty to the title a year ago at the Nike Tournament of Champions. They'll be in for a challenge from the get-go this year. Up first is Cameron Brink and Southridge.