BUFORD, Ga. -- In its second year, the 2011 EBA All American camp featured 38 players from 15 different states. Having players as far apart as Tiffany Suarez of Miami, Fla., and Kelli Kingma of Mill Creek, Wash., definitely gave the event a dynamic mix of styles and backgrounds.
Perhaps the biggest evidence of the importance of such events, from a player development perspective, was the performance of Courtney Ekmark of Phoenix, Ariz. The unassuming 6-foot wing from the class of 2014 has established herself as one of the premier shooters in the country over the last two years, but much has been said about her needing add strength and develop her ballhandling.
Ekmark, a sophomore at St. Mary's High School (Phoenix, Ariz.), utilized a multitude of combination moves off the dribble, setting up not only her pretty jumper, but also getting to the rim. Such play came against other elite players in a competitive environment, which isn't always the case during club or high-school games. Ekmark showed the willingness to challenge herself in pursuit of reaching her potential by testing her limits.
In true all-star fashion, some of the more skilled scorers, like Danielle Ballard of Memphis, Tenn.; N'Dea Bryant of Goose Creek, S.C.; Alexis Brown of Suwanee, Ga., and Te'a Cooper of Powder Springs, Ga., used stretches of the 5-on-5 action to entertain the spectators and remind everyone how special the sport's best players can be.
Bryant, a 6-0 wing who has committed to North Carolina, was nearly unstoppable in transition. She didn't waste any time at the event, using the breaks to get additional work in with the camp staff.
The gym at Bogan Park was not short on players who could create. But as the talented crop of players took turns showing their stuff, Brown managed to stand out for the timeliness of her buckets. The 2013 Maryland commit had an answer for anything her opponents could throw her way. She dug in on defense and created turnovers in addition to highlight-reel baskets, including several deep, contested threes.
Of the younger players, two of the standout 2015 point guards, Asia Durr of Douglasville, Ga., and Te'a Cooper (Powder Springs, Ga.), really stood out with, among all things, their consistency. They consistently pushed tempo, got their teammates involved and showed the ability to lead even with older players surrounding them.
In terms of post competition, Bashaara Graves of Clarksville, Tenn., showed consistent excellence and the work ethic throughout the event, from the drill work, to live play, and set the bar to all those looking for what it takes to be a top-10 player in any class. With the arrival of Nariah Taylor from Indianapolis, Graves found a worthy opponent to go head to head with on Sunday. The two were so good in the paint, and really pushing each other, that the guards were going out of their way to feed the post.
Upperclass Fantastic Four – 2012/2013
Alexis Brown (Suwanee, Ga.), PG 2013 (Maryland)
N'Dea Bryant (Goose Creek, S.C.), W 2012 (North Carolina)
Kaela Davis (Buford, Ga.), W 2012 (Tennessee)
Bashaara Graves (Clarksville, Tenn.), F 2012 (Tennessee)
Underclass Fantastic Four – 2014/2015
Asia Durr (Douglasville, Ga.), PG 2015 (undecided)
Te'a Cooper (Powder Springs, Ga.), PG 2015 (North Carolina)
Courtney Ekmark (Phoenix, Ariz.), G 2014 (undecided)
Mychal Johnson (Huntington, W.V.), G 2014 (undecided)
Chadarryl Clay (Chattanooga, Tenn.), PG 2012 (Auburn)
Taryn Griffey (Orlando, Fla.), PG 2014 (undecided)
Jasmine Jenkins (Gainesville, Ga.), PG 2012 (Vanderbilt)
Tiffany Suarez (Miami, Fla.), G 2013 (undecided)
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.