The current era of prep club basketball sees more and more events each year with talent conversely watered down. Thus, it was refreshing to attend an event that exceeded expectations. Such was the case with the inaugural version of Future Stars USA held July 28 at Westside High School in Augusta, Georgia.
The event, presented by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report and Southern Girls Basketball Report, had only 74 participants from 2019, 2020 and 2021 classes. What was so unusual was that 20 to 30 were likely future Power Five level recruits and all but a handful will be recruited at the Division one level depending on the final physical development of the players. College coaches in attendance got writers' cramp marking off names of prospects!
Colleges and scouts give rave reviews
Comments by those present ranged from "best event of the summer" to "best event ever" (individual newer to summer club scene) given that the time frame was only four hours. Each player participated in just two games of one hour running clock. The score was kept but in reality there were no losers here.
All participants were invited with no charge to any by the organizers. Forty college coaches from all over the USA (Most were in the area attending Nike Nationals just a twenty-minute drive away.) plus a few scouting services and a representative from USA Basketball were in attendance.
What made the event special was its organization (coach's packet is not lacking any information, things ran on time and the superior level of talent on just two courts). The participants played hard and unlike in so many camps, passed the ball (not usually the case in these settings) more than not to open teammates.
So why this now?
In watching college recruiters in action, so many are offering scholarships based on relatively limited viewing of prospects in the summer following their sophomore or junior years of high school. Many players are never seen in the high school setting before an offer is made. Often, that player is, for better or worse, not the one the recruiter saw in the summer, but the one not viewed in high school. The Future Stars program aims to help fill this the gap by identifying prospects at a much younger age as event architect/organizer Harry Elifson explains.
"Everything has changed in the last five years with the use of multi-court facilities with 10 or more courts. As a recruiter, where do you begin? Most obviously at the high school level. Future Stars USA will be trying to fill the void by providing data on younger prospects [over 400 already in its data base]." Elifson knows what he is talking about having over 25 years of coaching experience between high school and division one college levels.
Elifson continued. "Another goal is to acquaint younger players and their parents of the level of competition at the college level. We want to help kids realize what they need to do at the division one level."
For next year, the goal is to continue to keep the event to under 80 participants but maintain a talent-rich field.
Elifson is quick to point out that the event could not have been the success it was without co-organizer Dan Olson, who runs Collegiate Girls Basketball Report and does national player rankings for ESPN's Hoop Gurlz.
Note the names below as they will become better known in the years ahead. There were plenty of others that could have been mentioned as well. Quite frankly, there was too much to come close to fully absorbing all of it in just a few hours!
Players below are listed alphabetically giving height, position and graduation year with hometown in parenthesis.
River Baldwin, 6-4, center, 2019 (Andalusia, Alabama)
A quick glimpse of Baldwin can easily make you think that she is several years older as her build is very sturdy and well defined for someone so young. She showed nice skills around the basket and attacking ability from the high post.
Morgan Beacham, 5-7, combo guard, 2019 (Winter Garden, Florida)
Beacham is an athletic slasher with good basketball IQ. Her mid-range stroke complements her attacking nicely.
Azzi Fudd, 5-10, small forward, 2021 (Arlington, Virginia)
For a player just entering the seventh grade, Fudd is developing an excellent wing to baseline game. Her understanding is very advanced for her age.
Myra Gordon, 5-10, small forward, 2020 (Fort Worth, Texas)
Gordon is an athlete who can attack the rim. Give her too much space and she will bury the perimeter shot.
Nyah Green, 6-0, small forward, 2019 (Allen, Texas)
Green was one of the very top talents present in the event. A fine athlete, she can create her own perimeter shot thanks to well above average handles or take it to the rim.
Treasure Hunt, 5-10, forward/guard, 2020 (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
Tall and athletic, Hunt has a nice stroke on the perimeter.
Angel Jackson, 6-5, center, 2019 (Richmond, California)
Watching Jackson with her powerful, athletic build was like watching a woman playing against girls. Currently, her offense appears to be confined to the lower paint.
Ila Lane, 6-3, center, 2019 (San Jose, California)
Lane, powerfully built, showed a willingness to play physically, scoring in the lower paint.
Katelyn Levings, 6-3, forward, 2020 (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
Levings runs very well for her height. She can finish at the rim but also has a face-up stroke. Her "long" body type looks long term to be that of one of those stretch four's.
Kendal Moore, 5-6, combo guard, 2019 (Fayetteville, North Carolina)
Moore shoots it well enough to play the two but has handles making her point guard capable.
Amari Robinson, 6-0, power forward, 2019 (Douglasville, Georgia)
Robinson combines strong body, basketball IQ, physicality on the glass and mid-range stroke into a big-time package.
Elizabeth Scott, 6-0, small forward, 2019 (Tomball, Texas)
Scott likes to attack the basket from the perimeter and is very willing to use her strong frame to help her get there. Her body control finishing in traffic was impressive.