With the first 10 days of the July evaluation period in the books, here is brief look at what we discovered during that time on the road.
Race for No. 1
With a large portion of the elite players in the 2012 class involved with USA Basketball's U19 team this July, it seems that the focus for the race at the top of the rankings is solely on the Class of 2013. A snapshot of the current landscape has four members of the Class of 2013 in clear contention for the top spot in the class. Current No. 1 Kaela Davis came out of the spring as the leader, but she will have to fend off her title from a pack that is nipping at her heels. Diamond DeShields is widely considered to be the most athletic player in the Class of 2013 and will spend the second part of July with the USA U19 team. But she opted not to play with her A.O.T. Lady Rebels team that came away with impressive performances in Dallas as well as the AAU gold showcase championship. A summer during which DeShields put together a pair of national event championships and the USA U19 gold medal would have made a strong case for a possible No. 1 ranking.
Our current No. 3, Taya Reimer, has been nothing but consistent with her play in July. She has posted breakout performances in four summer events (USJN Cincy, USJN Indy 100, Real Deal in the 'Ville, and Battle of the Boro) while playing for two teams (Indy Gym Rats and Midwest Elite). Finally, the breakout player in the group, Mercedes Russell, made the move to Team Concept out of Oregon and helped lead them to an End of Trail championship to start of the evaluation period. The 6-5 center is the one true elite post scorers of the class and while her time on the national stage has been limited, it has also been impressive. Just outside of the top spots, Rebecca Greenwell has put together as noteworthy a spring/summer as anyone in the country and is certainly worth mentioning.
One of the early storylines of the first part of the July recruiting period has been the player movement among elite teams in the country from spring to summer. Most notably: Nicole Kornet to Cy Fair, Mercedes Russell to Team Concept, Taya Reimer to Midwest Elite, Kelsey Mitchell and Caprice Dennis to All Ohio, and Brianna Turner joining Kristina Higgins as DFW T-Jack's late improvements. All of these elite players change the face of summer events around the country, especially when talking about who will contend for championships at events such as Battle on the Bayou, USJN Nationals, and Nike Nationals in the last 10 days of the July evaluation period.
2012s Making Noise
While the race for the No. 1 spot might be stronger in the 2013 class, there is no shortage of Class of 2012 players making noise. At the top of the charts, the two strongest July performances have been seen from No. 4 Jewell Loyd and No. 10 Alexis Prince. Loyd was simply impressive with her play in Chicago at the Nike Summer Showcase and, not to be out done, Prince has carried the momentum from a strong spring into stellar play in the first part of July.
In addition to the two at the top of the list, there have also been solid performances from those looking to make a move up the national list. Maddie Manning is certainly a name of note coming out of the first part of the month. Manning showed a full offensive arsenal, proving that she could score the ball in a variety of ways against elite competition. Xylina McDaniel, Brittney Martin, Jamee Swan and Peyton Little are names who could be considered "risers" with their play in the first part of July.
Outside of the Top 100 there are a couple of kids who have impressed with their play in the first part of the month. On the West Coast, Candice Agee and Nyree Harris have made considerable impressions with their play so far. Agee is showing a lot of growth as a post threat and starting to finish everything she gets around the bucket. Coming out of the spring Harris was a name to watch heading into July. Her ability to score the basketball from the wing positions makes her a valuable commodity. Moving East, Jocelyn Mousty is a name worthy of garnering national attention while guards Veja Hamilton and Destiny Gibbs have played well in the first part of July.
Two for the Road
Taylor Agler (Westerville, Ohio) All Ohio: Coming out of the first part of July, Agler has shown vast improvement in her game and maybe more than anything has made a sound adjustment to the speed of the game. She is starting to look like a potential elite level prospect and with a continued high level of play she can solidify her stock.
Destiny King (Long Beach, Calif.) West Coast Premier: Early in her prep career King was looked at as a 5-9 undersized power forward with a high-revving motor. Going into her last days on the summer circuit, King has done a lot to combat that stereotype. She has developed a more versatile perimeter skill set and can be defined as more of a combo forward than a true undersized post. What's most impressive about her is her ability to guard on the defensive end and rebound the basketball at a high rate. Wherever King goes to school, she'll get on the court. She is the kind of kid you just can't keep off the court.
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Keil Moore is a contributor and national recruiting analyst for ESPN HoopGurlz. He is also the Director of Scouting for the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report - a division of Peach State Basketball, Inc. Moore has been involved in the community since 2007 as a recruiting analyst and trainer. He can be reached at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @keilmoore.