Nia Staples was a strong performer for the Toledo Thunder all weekend long. * Photo by Ty Freeman.
SUWANEE, Ga., - The NCAA evaluation period came to an end on Sunday afternoon, but not before 150 teams received top shelf exposure at the PSB Tip-Off Classic. Championship Sunday, as it is coined in the Peach State, is a chance for the hottest teams to play on ProspectsNationTV powered by @SUVtv with live streaming coverage. On this day we saw buzzer beaters, monitor reviews and dozens of prospects make a name for themselves all while playing in front of coaches from over 120 colleges and universities.
Championship Day Standout Performers
Shawnia Anderson (Cleveland, Tenn.), - Tennessee Xtreme – 2016
Anderson had a solid performance in the championship game of the @BrandonClayPSB bracket. The 5-foot-9 forward proved to be a go to player with teammates Akia Harris and Maddie Wright. This trio accounted for 51 points in their championship victory. Anderson’s ability to play her role and score around the basket proved to be the difference in the victory over the Alabama Diamondz on Sunday morning.
Elizabeth Balagun (Chattanooga, Tenn.), - Tennessee Xtreme – 2018
Coach Keisha Hunt guided her team to the championship of the @VinceSmithPSB bracket. One of the key performers was Balagun. The 6-1 guard was impressive in the championship game as she was able to score inside and out. She showed that she can shoot the ball from the perimeter as well as score with contact around the basket. Her aggressiveness around the rim gave her several opportunities to go to the charity stripe where she went 10 for 12. There are good things on the horizon for this versatile freshman.
Kortney Eisenman (Columbus, Ohio), West Virginia Thunder – 2016
The 6-3 post showed up at the Tip-Off Classic in a big way this weekend. She entered the event with offers from schools such as Charlotte, Marshall and nearly a dozen others. Eisenman played as if she wanted to prove that she is not finished in her development quite yet. The Ohio native had shown glimpses of versatility in past evaluations, however she had never shown the ability to be a primary contributor. This weekend Eisenman competed at the Tip-Off Classic in great physical shape and displayed improved mobility on both ends of the floor. Her willingness to rebound out of her area and scrap for loose balls in the paint make her an impactful paint player. But it is her extended range on her jumper that truly raised eyebrows during the evaluation weekend. At one point the center hit a 3-point jumper while displaying great footwork on the catch in the corner. Watch for Eisenman’s stock as a prospect to rise in future weeks after this weekend’s impressive performance.
Alayna Gribble (Irwin, Pa.), Western PA Bruins – 2016
Although most prospects enter the evaluation weekend trying to impress coaches to earn scholarship offers, a few will continue to play while already knowing where they plan to attend college. Gribble falls into the latter category as she gave her verbal commitment to Suzie McConnell-Serio and Pittsburgh University earlier this year. The Panthers will get a versatile, skilled wing who can shoot the 3-point jumper with efficiency. The 6-0 wing-forward displayed ball handling coupled with willingness to rebound her position. Gribble is the type of player that can fit well within a system offense, but she proved that she can impact in the transition game too. After leading her team to a bracket championship this weekend, Gribble elevated herself as an ELITE 100 Watch List prospect in the class of 2016.
Keyara Jones (Heidelberg, Miss.), South Mississippi Elite – 2017
Jones is a new name that caught the attention of observers at Suwanee Sports Academy. The 5-6 guard exhibited a pure point guard skill set for coach Burnell Wesco’s oldest team. She possesses many of the attributes that you want to see out of a playmaking lead guard such as quickness to create space and the awareness to find open teammates. Add in the fact that she can shoot the jumper at a high clip and she is on a trajectory that could land her as high as some of previous SME guard alums, such as class of 2012 Tiaria Griffin (Georgia) and class of 2014 Christa Reed (Vanderbilt). There is plenty left for Jones to prove in future evaluations but she started the conversation at the Tip-Off Classic.
Nia Staples (Liberty Township, Ohio), Toledo Thunder – 2016
Staples had an impressive showing all three days in the Peach State. The athletic guard showed versatility to affect the game on both ends of the floor. Staples is a high energy player who gets results off of the bounce to be able to score in the lane. The West Virginia commit did double duty at both guard positions while proving that she can defend multiple positions on the floor. Her scoring was key in a victory over the Toledo Thunder while playing on SUVtv on Sunday afternoon.
Anndrea Lloyd (Lindenwold, N.J.), Philly Freedom Stars – 2016
Lloyd showed that her game is growing. The 6-2 center for the Philly Freedom Stars rebounded and finished effectively around the basket, as expected. However, it was her extended range on her jumper that should catch the attention of programs trying to find a quality post in the junior class. That skill allows Lloyd to play alongside another paint player in a two-post offense, which the Freedom Stars have.
Bracket Champions and Top Performers
► The Tennessee Xtreme Sophomore team earned a championship win over The Nation in the @VinceSmithPSB bracket, led by Balagun, a freshman wing from Chattanooga, Tenn., who scored 21 points in the win.
► Cincy Swish15U played big all weekend and earned a championship in the Naismith All-American Bracket. Class of 2017 guard Maddie Haberthy of Cincinnait, Ohio, scored 14 points in a win over Michigan Storm Sophomore.
► Gribble, a Pitt commit, scored 19 in a win over the Georgia Hoopstars to earn the championship of the Naismith Trophy bracket.
► The EBA All-American bracket was won by the Cincy Swish 16U team. Swish was led by Abby Weeks of West Chester, Ohio, who scored 19 points in the championship game.
► Anderson led the TN Xtreme with 24 points in a win over the Alabama Diamondz on Sunday afternoon.
► The @ProspectsNation bracket was on won by West Virginia Thunder. Michigan State commit Taryn McCutcheon of Washington, W.Va., led the way with 13 points.
► The @WeWorkHoops bracket was taken home by West Virginia Thunder White team. Class of 2019 Jasmine Blankenship finished with a big 27 points in the win.
► Class of 2017 wing Christina Passerell of Twinsburg, Ohio, led the Toledo Thunder Sophomores with 14 points and a win in the @KeilMoorePSB bracket.
► The Indy Lady Gymrats Gold took home the @JLHemingwayPSB bracket with a win over the WPA Bruins 8th. Class of 2019 wing Laya Hartman of Okemos, Mich., led her team with 13 points.
► The North Georgia Magic won the @BClayScouting bracket. Class of 2018 forward Tatum Shipes of Buford, Ga., scored 14 points on championship day.
► The @ChrisHansenPSB bracket proved to be the most thrilling of the tournament. Class of 2016 guard Caitlin Davis of Breaux Bridge, La., hit the game-winner in sudden death overtime. Davis and class of 2017 point guard Keyara Jones of Heidelber, Miss., scored 13 points in the win.
► The Kenner Angels ran through the @StephenPeckPSB to earn a championship. They defeated the Douglasville Lady Tigers 54-43 for the championship on Sunday morning.
► The Toledo Thunder Junior won the inaugural @KTaylorPSB bracket. Class of 2016 guard Nia Staples of Liberty Towns, Ohio, scored 11 in the win. She is also a West Virginia commit.
Hemingway is the Assistant Director of Scouting for the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report, is on the Naismith Trophy Board of Selectors and owns CoachHemi.com, the go-to source for coaches for X’s and O’s. He is the floor director of #TeamEBA camps, a site director for #TeamPSB tournaments and can be reached at email@example.com.
Peck is the owner of Dream In Motion Athletics and is a national evaluator for the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report. He also serves as a on-floor skills coach at the Elite Basketball Academy events. He can be reached at StephenPeck@peachstatebasketball.com.