CHANDLER, Ariz. -- The 2010 Nike Tournament of Champions is underway and we offer a look at standout performances in our Day One Fabulous Four Tip Sheet.
Finding a prospect on the high-school level who fits the position description of a true guard, forward or post is a rare thing these days. This 6-foot-3 sophomore from Central Catholic (Portland, Ore.) should have her picture in the dictionary beside the word forward. She has good size to combine with a solid frame that may well hint at some increased height down the road. What sets her apart from players of similar stature and their calling on the block is the diversity of her skills.
Johnson can take care of business down low but works with equal effectiveness in the high post. She can put it on the floor and create her own looks as well as pull up and shoot the ball with some confidence from the 8- to-15-foot range. She's constantly looking to attack and isn't hesitant to work in traffic. She elevates impressively on her shot but does drift or fall away at times. Though she's more than willing to use it, the left hand is going to need some sharpening around the rim and in her ball skills. Johnson is active and aggressive at both ends of the floor and a large part of her potential is already a reality. Despite her team's opening round loss to Windward (Los Angeles), playing for fundamental and proven coach Sandy Dickerson should help her take the next step forward and lengthen the line of recruiters already at her door.
It's always flattering to be considered a great scorer. Even better? To be considered a great creator. That's the role that Plum of La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla, Calif.) morphed into Friday at Willis Junior High. There were many times early on when her team appeared lackluster at best. Enter the 5-9 junior guard from Poway, Calif. Initially it seemed as though her teammates were still in the Golden State, entrenched in finals.
As LJCD got off to a slow start, Plum demonstrated an ability to take over a game. Not only was she capable of scoring and creating shot opportunities for herself, she also found ways to engage teammates in the cause. She accomplished this by becoming more vocal, stepping up her intensity on both ends of the floor, and by demanding the same passion from those around. The end result was a collective and hard-fought win over a talented and feisty Tolleson Union (Ariz.) squad.
And while she gladly took her team on her back and served as a floor general, Plum was also able to create for herself. When in a one-on-one setting, she was entertaining to watch as she broke down defenders. She is very crafty at using her body to create space either leaning in or stepping back on the space away. Several times she muscled by her defender with a spin-back-middle power move to finish at the rim. In the end, it was a combination of distinguished leadership, distribution of the ball, and plain old fashioned putting up points that made Plum such a shining star in her first round win at the TOC.
Nobody expected Bolingbrook (Ill.) to struggle in the first round but apparently this Santa Monica (Calif.) guard didn't get the memo. Faulk came out not just to compete, but also to pull the upset, spurring her team to an early lead before the heavily favored Raiders leapt ahead.
Faulk showed that she can create shots, even against great defenders. In scoring a game-high 19 points she combined solid basketball plays with finishing some tough shots. She elevates really well on her jumper and has the lower-body strength to go airborne on a pull-up and even on a step-back with similar results. Though there were times she needed to fade to get her shot off, she did show a tendency to shoot falling away even when it wasn't necessary and as the minutes racked up and legs became fatigued that led to some shots falling short.
Even with her team on the losing end of the 59-48 game, Faulk showed she has a passion for the game. She competed hard and even after a mistake or two she didn't allow it to deter her from being the team's leader. The same smirk and head-nod she displayed after hitting tough shots in the first quarter as her team jumped ahead, she replicated late in the game with her team rallying and cutting into Bolingbrook's lead. She may not come with as much fan fare as some other in California, but Faulk will be an entertaining addition to UCLA next season.
Freshman jitters may have gotten the best of the 5-10 forward from Horizon Christian Academy (San Diego, Calif.) during the first half against Marlborough (Los Angeles), as she struggled to finish the easiest of layups. However, in the second half Osumi came out of the Basha High School locker room a completely different player. She found a way to use her size and physical strength to get to the basket, using her drop step on the low block to score baskets and draw fouls.
Osumi has the ability to handle the ball in the open floor and doesn't hesitate to push the ball in transition. Her ability to make outside shots showed that she is skilled enough to play on the perimeter, as well. Even though Horizon lost by two, Osumi's display of leadership during crucial stretches of a close game was one the more inspired performances of the day.
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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. Hansen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Kara (Harrison) Howe founded and coached in the Utah Sky club program, which sent several players, including sister Michelle, now a junior at Stanford, to Division I schools. She played college basketball at Utah Valley State, was an all-state performer at Alta High School in Sandy, Utah, and coached high school in the Salt Lake area. Howe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Bodine is a national evaluator for ESPN HoopGurlz. A native of Queens, N.Y., she began her coaching career in 1993 with the NY Gazelles, has coached with D.C.-based Team Unique, and in 2009 she was named DAC Co-Coach of the Year after leading Wakefield Country Day School in Flint Hill, Va., to its first-ever conference title. She can be reached at email@example.com.