MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The second annual Tennessee Turkey Jamm brought together an outstanding array of talent for an early season tournament including six teams ranked in the Powerade Fab 50 high-school rankings. With that kind of talent on hand there's going to some impressive individual performances from both high profile athletes as well as a few who are taking their game to the next level.
Today we take a look at a couple of seniors leaving an impression at the start of their final high-school campaign and five underclassmen who made a statement during their play last week in Memphis.
Symone Daniels, St. Benedict: The coaches of Drake University have to particularly excited about this 5-foot-10 wing/forward coming their way next year. Daniels is one of those rare seniors who continues to show great strides in her game and may just be scratching the surface of her potential. Leading her team to two wins in this year's Turkey Jamm, she demonstrated much improved ballhandling skills and an increased comfort level on the perimeter. While still listed as a forward on her team's roster and working effectively in the post at times, she also took the ball coast to coast on several occasions and got out on the break at every opportunity. Her perimeter shot is still out in front of her a bit and she'll need to get a little lower when handling the ball but her future is almost assuredly on the wing. Strong, athletic and active, Daniels is a solid presence on the defensive end and comes up with more than her share of rebounds. There are still some rough edges that need smoothed out but the best is yet to come.
Isabelle Harrison, Hillsboro: Hillsboro had two of the toughest matchups in Memphis, facing both No. 6 Potters House and No. 4 Bolingbrook. While the Burros came up short both nights, this 6-3 senior forward showed why she's headed to the University of Tennessee next year. Harrison, No. 29 prospect in the ESPNU HoopGurlz 100, seems to be playing with an increased confidence and seems more comfortable in a leadership role than she has in the past. She was vocal with her teammates and led the way in her play as well. After a particularly hard fall that took her out of the game, she returned and competed aggressively. Harrison is putting the ball on the floor effectively and creating a lot of her own scoring opportunities. Her ability to finish around the rim is more and more consistent and she playing at rim level. Additionally she demonstrated some wide receiver skills pulling in several passes that were launched well above her head. Hillsboro has only two seniors on the roster and continued elevated play by Harrison will be a key to the growth and success of the team.
Cabrina Capers, Bolingbrook: Good news for Bolingbrook is turning out to be very bad news for opponents. This 6-1 forward is playing the kind of basketball that commands the attention of defenders and when you already have Ariel Massengale and Morgan Tuck to worry about things start to get stretched pretty thin. Capers is coming off a strong performance this summer for the Midwest Elite and continues to show she is a force to reckon with. If you're looking to define power forward, this is your girl. Physically strong, she's not hesitant to mix things up and put a body on opponents at either end of the floor. Her explosive athleticism sees her rising above the crowd for rebounds and finishing over bigger defenders. She's active offensively in the halfcourt and she's there on the break as well. The jumper still needs some work and consistency but down low she can finish efficiently. On the defensive end she has the agility to match up with quick forwards as well as the frame to hold her own with bigger post up threats.
Cornellia Fondren, Memphis Overton: Easily one of the most impressive performances in Memphis came from this 5-9 combo guard. Combining elite speed and quickness with sound skills makes her a challenge for opponents both offensively and defensively. Playing the point she was able to navigate and shred the highly regarded trapping full-court press of Potter's House creating multiple scoring opportunities. On the catch defenders have to respect a lengthy and ultra-quick first step and her ability to elevate on the pull up or floater is usually reserved for the college level. Her perimeter shot has a forward motion on it that will be a problem with more experienced defenders but getting that tight to her is a risk as well. Not many on-ball defenders are as aggressive and focused as her while her lateral speed allows her to turn ballhandlers almost at will. What may well be her defining quality is her relentless play. Fondren is a driven player who makes play after play and has a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. That mentality combined with her physical skills makes her someone who can count on a very bright future.
Charsonae Fuqua, Hoover: Some of the most versatile play seen at the Turkey Jamm came from this talented 6-0 wing/forward. Fuqua is the No. 60 prospect in the ESPN HoopGurlz Super 60 and has already given a verbal commitment to Van Chancellor and LSU, which should have the Tiger faithful smiling. Combining size, athleticism and very fluid movement, she offers an inside out threat that can be a challenge to match up with. With the ball in her hands she can attack off the dribble and has no trouble among the bigs once she gets into the paint. With a smaller defender the ability is there to post up as well. Without the ball she's active and has that all too hard to find willingness to cut aggressively. Defensively she's exceptionally strong on ball and has the footspeed to contain smaller guards. Off the ball she anticipates well and sees the floor for quick rotations on the weakside. On both ends of the floor she's constantly attacking. Her play is smart, well thought out and well-suited for the next level.
Nina Davis, Memphis Central: One of the great things about identifying and watching talented young players from a young age is seeing the progress in their game. This 5-9 combo guard was impressive as a freshman is showing considerable maturity already as a sophomore. She's not ready to skip the rest of high school and move on to college but continued advancements at the same rate will have a long line of coaches looking for her services when the time comes. Physically she's stronger and there seems to be more confidence in her play. With the ball, both at the point and on the wing, she can slash and penetrate with an impressive crossover while creating both shots and passes. The spin moves and body control are there to get off some creative shots at times but occasionally the pass might be the better option. It's obvious that she's put in the time on the jumper but it's still a major work in progress and an essential need to make her a more complete player. Davis has the size and athleticism to be a strong on-ball defender and anticipates off the ball effectively. That line of recruiters has already formed but it will be up to her how many ultimately will be knocking on her door.
Kayla Potts, Forest Park: As long as we're talking about recognizing potential talent at a young age, it's worth mentioning this 5-9 point guard from Forest Park. Athletic with impressive speed, she pushes the ball at opportunity and is comfortable in transition as well as halfcourt sets. Her ballhandling is sharp, even with aggressive defensive pressure. She's part of a talented and well-coached team which gives her some breathing room to be a freshman. Potts sees the floor well but occasionally decisions come just a split second slower than they will down the road. She can get to the rim and demonstrated a couple of pull ups that will serve her well on penetration. She didn't take many from the perimeter but the stroke looks good and the confidence is there to keep defenders playing her straight up. Defensively she's active on the ball but gets caught with her head turned on the weakside sometimes. All the tools are in place for her to develop.
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Mark Lewis is the national recruiting coordinator for ESPN HoopGurlz. Twice ranked as one of the top 25 assistant coaches in the game by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, he has more than 20 years of college coaching experience at Memphis State, Cincinnati, Arizona State, Western Kentucky and, most recently, Washington State. He can be reached at email@example.com.