I had the opportunity and pleasure to travel 1,100 miles to evaluate talent and observe the professionalism of instructor Ganon Baker. The camp was held in Columbus, Ohio at the Ohio Dominican College campus. There were close to 65 players from over 11 states. If you are a serious basketball player and a Ganon Baker Camp is not on your schedule, then you need to re-evaluate your spring/summer schedule. Ganon is the best of the best to pick up on drills and fundamentals that are essential to play at the top level.
Ganon pulls no punches and works the participants to get the maximum effort and desire out of each player, so they can achieve their goals. It was a young group in whole, with players from the class of 2013 to 2018. They were a very focused group of girls who seemed willing to learn. They were put through drills that were very vigorous and challenging.
There was quite a bit of skill development and individual drills, but the instructors did give me time to evaluate with 3-on-3, 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 scrimmages. Listed below are players from the different classes that stood out to me on this weekend.
Class of 2014
The player that caught my eye first was Jasmine Carter, a combo guard from Dacula, Georgia. She is an aggressive player with quick feet and hands who does not shy away from attacking the basket. When she does go down on the low block, she uses her left hand as well as she does her natural right hand. She seemed to be everywhere on the court, causing havoc on the defensive end with steals and her quick lateral movement.
The young lady who traveled the farthest to Ohio was Sierra Jones. She did not disappoint, showing a variety of her skills and advanced fundamentals. She is a 5’8″ lefty with natural basketball skills. Sierra caught my eye early in the camp with her eye-hand coordination. She showed excellent ball handling skills and was very unselfish by distributing the ball to the open teammate. Also, there were many occasions that showed her fire and intensity fighting for loose balls.
The most profile girl in the camp was Lynee’ Belton, a 6’3″ strong and finesse player from Clinton, Maryland. She is already recognized as one of the top ten players in the country by several scouting services. She caught my attention early with her poise and the way she made the game look so simple. She is long and lean, but shows that she has strength – especially boxing out opposing players. I believe she could play a 3 in college with her natural ability to handle the ball and hit the perimeter jump shot.
Here are other players from the class of 2014 that caught my eye
MaKenzie Bevins | 5’7″ | Guard | Columbus, Ohio
A good perimeter shooter who plays who is an unselfish player and is a vocal leader. A team player who needs to get stronger.
Ariana Freeman | 5’10″ | Combo | Manasses, Virginia
Strong moves to the basket. Good vision of the court. A quick and smooth player who has good lateral movement on defense. More of a slasher than an outside shooter.
Maiya Gibson | 5’8″ | Wing | Randallstown, Maryland
Her main talent is to go out and hit the 3 point shot. Gets in and mixes it up on the offensive and defensive ends.
Cydni Cole | 5’5″ | PG | Glen Burnie, Maryland
An all out player who loves to lead the break in transition. She will bully her way through defenders to get to the bucket and score. Could use some practice on her outside shot.
Brandy Alley | 6’1″ | Center | Mt.Juliet, Tennessee
A big and strong kid who gives maximum effort and at times shows flashes of brilliance with her footwork down on the block. Needs to be more consistent on finishing her shots.
Class of 2015
The best player I witnessed from this class was a 6’1″ wing from Indianapolis, Indiana – Brittany Ward. She has great upside potential. Her speed and quickness help her create her own shot and take defenders off the dribble. She has a nice, fluid rotation to her shot from 10 to 15 feet. Her rebounding skills are helped by her superior jumping ability. At times though, she will press and try to do too much for her team.
Olivia Bower from the home grown state of Ohio plays a combo guard and forward at 6’0″. She has natural instincts for the game which allows her to make decisions whether to take the perimeter shot or drive through traffic to the lane. A girl with a long wing span, she sees the court well and at times even leads the fast break. Average speed and quickness, but is young and has time to work on that part of her game.
Here are players from the 2015 class that caught my eye.
Katie Simon | 6’1″ | Forward | Findlay, Ohio
Good handles for a big. Nice footwork down low, but needs to work on her jump shot. Her fundamentals and attitude are right up there with the best.
Channing James | 6’5″ | Center | Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
A long wing span and lanky, but plays with desire and intensity. Could still use a little work on her low game, but she is 6’5″ tall and young. Jump roping could help to improve her elevation.
Nia Thomas | 5’8″ | Combo | West Chester, Ohio
Did very well in the skills portion of the camp. Excellent ball handling skills. She will find the open man whether in a half court offense or off the break.
Class of 2016
Raven James | 5’5″ | PG | Upper Marlboro, Maryland
She has tremendous speed and quickness. This elevates her game in the transition and her quick feet and determination help her to play awesome defense. Raven has quick hands and in the ball handling skills part of the camp, she showed great eye-hand coordination. Her passing skills are pin-point and loves to distribute the rock to her teammates.
Other Players that should be recognized
Cali Konek 4’8″ PG North Huntington.Pa 2018
Amira Collins 6’2″ Forward LaPlata,Md 2018
Kailey Beard 5’5″ Guard Columbus,Oh 2015
Kirby Porter 6’1″ Forward Chevy Chase,Md 2014
Premier Basketball Scout
Underclassmen Eyed In The Buckeye State
By Kelvin Powell
Illinois Hoop Dreams
Underclassmen (including middle school) were the talk of the camp. An outstanding group of promising players took part and here are some of the standouts we noticed.
Sydney Bordonaro – 5’7”/PG/2015 (Lower Burrell, PA)- Sydney was one of the standouts in the ball-handling skills development session. She displayed solid concentration during the break-out sessions while attempting the most difficult of executions. During the 3-on-3 play she was active from the point guard position showing good bounce, good footwork and separation moves. Dribble drive penetration moves with good speed for a freshman were also displayed. Strength is an area of concern and must be addressed through both the natural maturation process, as well as frequent visits to the weight room. Monitor this prospect at the Mid-Major Division I Level.
Nichole Davidson- 5’9”/CG/2015 (South Elgin IL) At 5’9” and the ability to play either guard spot, Davidson is a definite college-level player. We like her ability to play off two-feet around the basket. She’ll need to fill out the slender frame over time to warrant Major Division I interest, but time is on her side. Nichole had one of the better individual plays during the 5-on-5 games, where she did an excellent job of playing the passing lanes to create a turnover while also converting the turnover into points with a nice finish on the offensive end.
Olivia Bower- 6’0”/CG/2015 (Bowerston, OH) Bower’s ability as a playmaker is what stood out to us during the 2-day camp. Her passing prowess and aptness to make her teammates better are always skills coveted at the highest level of basketball. Add to that, her 6’0” frame and craftiness, and you have the makings of a contributor at the college level. Her foot speed is a concern and rightfully so, but the size and ball skills make for it…..at some levels.
Kayla Brownlee-5’6”/PG/2015 (Pittsburgh, PA) – Brownlee is an active on-ball defender. An aggressive and relentless defender.
Qierra Murray-5’9”/PG/2014 (Owing Mills, MD) – Besides being a half-court shot artist like LeBron James, Murray is an athletic wing with a good motor. She has shooting range to the arc and can also attack the baseline. Defensively, she gambles for the steal too often and this leaves her teammates in vulnerable positions. Q has the physical tools to play at the Mid-Major level with opportunities at the Majors.
Jasmine Carter-5’9”/ CG/2014 (Dacula, GA) – Jasmine made the hike from Georgia to Ohio for this, the first of many Skill Select camp and she turned a lot of heads. Carter has the size and athletic combination that will make her a commodity at the Division I level. She’ll need to refine her shooting and scoring prowess to warrant the Major schools interest, but a contributor none the less. She showed a nice quick first step on both her left and right handed drives to the basket. She’s a physical penetrator now, but is only a sophomore, so the growth in other areas could be forthcoming.
Cydni Cole-5’5”/PG/ 2014 (Glen Burnie, MD) – A true point guard who showed a knack for dribble penetration to find and create opportunities for open teammates to score. Cole attacks the defense with power and purpose.
Laurel O’Barto-5’5”/PG/ 2015 (Blairville, PA) – A tough-nose point guard who plays the position with her heart and her head. She is also a very crafty player with advanced ball skills.
Ariana Freeman – 5’10”/CG/2014 (Manassas, VA) One of the top perimeter participants in this year’s camp was Freeman. Has the ability to play all three perimeter position and can guard them as well. A solid build with good quickness laterally. She’s without a traditional position for now, but a point –forward is probably the best description in terms of most effective use of her skill /size set. Ariana has great body control and avoided several would be defenders on her way to the basket. We weren’t able to determine her outside shooting ability, due mainly to the fact that she was in the lane at will. A High Major prospect in time.
Raven James-5’5”/PG/2016 (Upper Marlboro, MD) To report on the young James at this point would seem to be exhaustive. She’s a veteran to this environment and her age/ability combination will blow any first time observer away. She is advanced well beyond her years and is still showing advancement. We noticed her ability to apply suffocating on ball defense and her new-found ability to create going right (she’s a natural lefty) as areas that she seems to focus on at this point in her early career. Raven will definitely be one of the point guard in the2016 class nationally, if not internationally. Plays hard and with passion!
Brittany Johnson-5’10”/ Forward/2014 (Pickerington, OH) – Pickerington has long been a hot-bed of girls basketball talent, the young Johnson should continue that trend. The solidly build forward is a strong finisher around the cup. Brittany was the best passer in transition of the forward crop, often times finding opening teammates streaking to the basket for lay-ups and open shots. She runs the floor well, but should look to improve in this area.
Sierra Jones-5’8”/Guard/2014 (Huntsville, AL) – Another player who made the track up to the Buckeye State from the southeast region was Jones. Sierra is a strong and consistent driver along the baseline. While we really like Sierra’s ability to physically dominate smaller guards, we are concerned about her ability to finish the play at the rim. She missed a fair amount of driving lay-ups. This should be correctable with more intense focus. A solid passer (especially into the post) she’ll warrant looks at both guard spots in time.
Chelsey Koren-5’10”/Forward/2015 (Blairsville, PA) – Chelsey has a good bounce and active feet. This allows her to be what we deem an active player. She always seems to be around the action and contributing in all the small ways that championship teams desire. Has the size at 5’10 to contribute inside and out.
Emily Molnar-5’6”/PG/2014 (Shreve, OH) – Basketball I.Q. will always be in demand at the collegiate level and Emily has it. Reminds us a lot of LSU guard Jeanne Kenney both in physical appearance and somewhat in her game. She made a nice play to split double team with the pinpoint pass. Has a high arching shot that consistently finds the bottom of the net.
Tori Moreland-6’0”/PG/2015 (New Philadelphia, OH) – A guard with this type of size is rare in the women’s game, but when you locate them you pursue them…..hard. Tori is equally effective on drives going right or left going, especially along the baseline; attacks. Again she has very good perimeter size.
Katie Claussner-5’2”/PG/ 2015 (West Chicago, IL) – Katie is highly skilled for a freshman point guard. Her ball-handling skills are above excellent and she shows good speed in the transition game. She plays under control despite being consistently aggressive. Her size could ultimately be the only knock in the ability to play on the bigger BCS stage, but a jewel none the less. She has mastered the DRIVE, DRAW and DISH, which only makes her teammates 1) better and 2) want to play with her. Drains the 3-pt shot as well.
Maiya Gibson-5’8”/Wing/2014 (Randallstown, MD) – Active. Active. We wrote this word on several occasions next to Gibson’s name throughout the two-day camp. A quick penetrator with good size, she does have a tendency to play too high which causes her to be contained by strong defenders. Maiya has the one and two dribble pull-up jumper and 3-point range in her offensive repertoire. She’ll need to improve her ball-handling skills, especially going left. Her shot mechanics need considerable work, but as quick penetrator with size that attacks hard can find minutes on a lot of teams. Style of play is critical when the time comes to make that all important college decision.
Kirby Porter-6’1”/Forward/2014 (Chevy Chase, MD) – Kirby’s an athletic wing with great size that can cause problems on both ends. Can play and guard multiple positions.
Cheldyn Ramsey-5’5”/ Guard/2015 (Tulsa, OK) – Ramsey, an Oklahoma resident, is a power guard that will only get better. A Division One prospect now and only a freshmen.
Tyana Robinson-5’8”/CG/2016 (Indianapolis, IN) – It’s always put a smile on our faces when we see a new player with the potential to become a big-time prospect. Robinson was this year’s surprise. She did it all. She can make the deep 3 point shot with regularity. She had a nice back to the back finish showing outstanding footwork and concentration. A willing, and able defender on and away from the ball. Tyana can drive it left and right with ease. Her body type can best be described as a long 5’8”. She was one of the top overall performers at this camp. Definitely one of the surprises.
Katie Simon-6’1”/Forward/2015 (Findlay, OH) – A long good athlete with a promising future.
Brittany Ward-6’1”/Wing/2015 (Indianapolis, IN) – Ward is a very intriguing prospect as she looks the part with a great looking athletic body, but her skills are still evolving. She runs the floor well and has a long wing-span. Her ability to guard on the perimeter, as well as the interior, will make her a recruit that will be evaluated consistently by DI coaches, but her skills must improve to warrant the sometimes elusive DI offers. Despite her good lateral quickness, wing span and ability to hold a good low athletic stance, she doesn’t elevate off the floor the way you would expect. This will be a concern if not improved upon. She’ll be one of those that can guard or defend multiple positions.
Brandy Alley-6’1”/Center/2014 (Mt. Juliet, TN) – Alley is a big body lefty post with a physical game.
Morgan Bassett-Smith 6’2”/Center/2014 (Pickerington, OH) – Bassett-Smith is another one of those physical Midwest post that likes the contact part of this sport and does a good job of making her presence felt on both ends
Maia Lee-6’2”/Forward/2014 (Falls Church, VA) – A forward with good size, but she’ll need to finish better around the basket.
Lynee’ Belton-6’3”/Forward/2014 (Clinton, MD) – Regarded by many as a national top 20 player, Belton didn’t do anything to convince us otherwise. Her presence is felt from the time she walks in the gym. At 6’3’ and the ability to do just about anything on the floor, she’ll have her pick of BSC programs. She rebounds well out of her area and is a very good outlet passer as well. Belton had numerous offensive moves against both a single and double teams. She passed well out of the double teams. Lynee’ showed a quick first step on several baseline maneuvers. Her passing skills afford her opportunity to play at the high post. We like to see her develop a consistent 15-17 foot jump shot, but time again is on her side. She’ll make our 2014 McDonald’s All-American watch list and monitor her development over time. CAMP’S TOP PROSPECT!
Channing James-6’5”/Center/2015 (Pittsburgh, PA) – James is very long and rangy player now with an unreal upside. She appears to still be growing. Her limbs are all over the place, but her hands are good and she runs the floor well for such a young post prospect. We LOVE her long-term!
Honorable Mention: Natalie Hammersmith -5’4”/PG/2014 (Holgate, OH), Chrishna Butler-5’8”/Wing/2013 (Gahanna, Oh), Morgan Thompson-5’8”/Guard/2015 (Cuyahoga Falls, OH)
YOUTH IS SERVED – We walked away very pleased with the overall energy, coaching ability and effort of all the participants. We were blown away by the 6th and 7th grade group that included Amira Collins -6’2”/Forward/2018 (La Plata, MD), Megan Veneman- 5’5”/PG/ 2017 (Ashley, OH), Taleah Dixon – 5’7”/Guard/ 2018 (Baltimore, MD) and Cali Konek- 4’8”/ PG/ 2018 (North Huntingdon, PA). These youngsters should focus on enjoying the game of basketball and maintaining a good work ethic while seeking advanced competition when the opportunity presents itself.
Kelvin Powell is the Camp Director of Skills Select Exposure Camps as well as Director of Scouting/Player Personnel for Ganon Baker Basketball Services. Powell is a member of the McDonald’s All-American Selection Committee and the Gatorade National and State Player of the Year Program. He is currently employed at Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College as an Athletic Administrator. He can be reached at [email protected] . Also follow him on twitter @kppros
Blue Star Media Basketball Report
Written by Mark Lewis
COLUMBUS, Ohio— For years now anybody knowledgeable in the game of basketball understands that the name Ganon Baker is virtually synonymous with skill development. Professional players as well as college and scholastic athletes alike have benefited from the high energy, high intensity training that Baker provides between the lines. For the past three years Columbus has served as the setting for one of the first individual skill development academies of the off season coming just one week after Ohio and many other state tournaments conclude. This year 58 individuals represented 11 different states in the two day event held on the campus of Ohio Dominican University. In a contrast to past years, the 2012 roster was much younger featuring over 60 percent of the participants having three or more seasons of high school basketball still in front of them. With a focus on skill development, minimal time was spent in full court scrimmage but extensive evaluation was available in two on two and three on three scenarios offering a good look at some young and developing players. Here’s some thoughts on just a few of the participants who stood out.
Class of 2014
Easily the most recognizable and established prospect in the gym was 6-2 Lynee’ Belton of Clinton, Maryland. The promising forward already has USA Basketball Trials experience under her belt and is certainly no secret to college recruiters coast to coast. Strong and powerful, Belton continues to add diversity to her game in addition to ramping up the skills that already serve her so well. In both half and full court sets she demonstrated an ability to cut and run the floor in a manner that’s going to challenge even smaller, more agile defenders. Add to that her solidly established physical interior effort and you got match up problems from the tip. Even in specific skill sessions, ballhandling in particular, she was focused and intent on making the most of each rep. Point guard isn’t likely in her future but you’re going to see more and more work from the elbows including some sharp passing on reversals and out of doubles. Several drives revealed a better understanding and use of her lengthy first step as well as some solid reads as the help rotated her way. Defensively she continues to show the ability to match up down low and the mobility to be a factor on the top of a press. The combination of size, strength and agility are meeting sharpened skills and commitment. Keep watching closely.
Jasmine Carter made the trip up from Dacula, Georgia and showed why so many college assistants like to do their recruiting window shopping in the Peach State. At 5-8 she’s physically strong with both the speed and quickness that can make her effective on both ends of the floor. There’s a smooth and fluid aspect to her game that allows her to catch opponents off guard with changes in both acceleration and direction. Her first step is decisive and quick leaving a lot of defenders on their heels and calling for help. She’s much more effective with the ball in her hands than not and creates opportunities for both herself and her teammates. The vision is there to see the floor and she delivered a few needle threading passes off penetration as well as on ball screens. Her perimeter shot looks sound but came and went in terms of consistency throughout both drills and competitive settings. On ball defensively she’s got good lateral speed and shows no hesitancy in putting a body on the opposition when the need arises.
Making the trip to the Buckeye State from all the way over in Manassas, Va. was 5-10 combo guard Ariana Freeman. Quick and attacking, she was in constant motion running the lanes or handling it in transition. The same effort served her well in the halfcourt wearing her defender down possession by posession. On the catch she does a good job of reading the floor and made good decisions when options closed up in front of her. Her ballhandling and change of direction get her to the rim effectively but there’s an obvious preference to her right hand that opponents might exploit without some additional development of the left. She was able to knock down several jumpers both spotting up and off pull ups but the release does come off the shoulder to a degree. In traffic she navigates rotations like a tailback breaking away and is more than willing to take the hit and go to the line. Nice size and a persistent, attacking mentality give her a lot of tools and potential to develop and apply now and down the road.
Sierra Jones of Huntsville, Alabama is going to make you watch her. There are things she does well and some things that need some attention but you can count on her catching your eye and making plays. At 5-8 she’s got a solid and physically strong build. Lots of speed is there and the first step serves her well with the ball or in a stance defending a ball handler. Jones is very adept at reading the floor and creating both off the pass or the cut. She made some impressive reads leading to give and go options resulting in easy lay ups. On the break she delivered several down floor passes that Peyton Manning would have been proud of. In the halfcourt she penetrated consistently and made smart, efficient passes as well as took it to the rim herself when warranted. Without the ball there was a tendency to be less active and unsure but she was still quick to the boards when the shot goes up. On the ball defensively she’s focused and aggressive. She gets ahead and looks to turn her match up again and again. Jones has lots of tools that may be just the tip of the ice berg as she advances her game.
Class of 2015
One of the homegrown individuals that had some moments was Olivia Bower from Bowerstown, Ohio. Standing just short of 6-0, she provides plenty of size on the perimeter and presents an evolving skill set that suggests she may be there to stay. There’s still an awkward aspect to her game that comes and goes but at times things will smooth out into this fluid attack that gets her through traffic and to the rim. Off the dribble she’s able to create her own look with space but struggles in close quarters with opponents. She’s got her eyes up and reading both on the break and penetrating in the halfcourt demonstrating the ability to deliver the ball. Somewhat short on physical strength at this point, the lift she needs on her jumper to be consistent fades over the course of a workout but time and Mother Nature should address that. The same issue causes her some challenges defensively but her length allows her to compensate when matched up with smaller perimeter opponents.
One of those players that make you glance during drills but watch much, much closer when things go live is Blairsville, Pa.’s Chelsey Koren. Another guard with good size at a young age, she’s comfortable putting the ball on the floor in transition or working in halfcourt sets. At 5-10 she’s advanced for her age in the ability to navigate traffic and make choices as helpside comes her way both in terms of shots and passes. Her athletic ability is sound but not going to be the first thing you notice. Then again it isn’t something that should limit her in any way either. Koren is surprisingly fast with the ball in her hands and sets a good pace if the outlet comes her way. Her individual skills allow her to create against defenders with more lateral speed and she’s very cognizant of using her body to protect her efforts for someone who’s just heading into their sophomore year. There were moments of standing without the ball which may be due in part to minimal offensive structure available in a two day event. Well worth keeping an eye on.
From the Hoosier State and Indianapolis came forward Brittany Ward. Lean, long and active she was assertive in drills, breakdown sets and any live action. If they kept stats for constant movement this is your girl. With the ball she was able to create her own looks down low as well as from the high post. Off the cut she has the athleticism to set up and leave defenders with size or quickness standing. There are still times where she’ll need to temper her attack to avoid helpside and doubles but that should come with added experience and maturity. A lot of things that she does give indication that the perimeter might well be on her radar down the road. While obviously shorter than her listed 6-1, the ballhandling had its moments off the drive and a couple of passes indicated that vision and concepts are in place. On the defensive end this is the kind of player coaches love to work with. She’s got some size to match up with interior opponents but all the agility, speed and quickness to cause havoc in the backcourt or pressing situations. There are flashes of lots of tools but Ward may just be scratching the surface.
Class of 2016
One player who’s had plenty of exposure despite having not entered her freshman year yet is Raven James. This point guard from Upper Marlboro, Md. continues to show advances in her skill set and more depth to her understanding of the game. Listed wishfully at 5-5, the speed and quickness that you’ll notice first is still her calling card and allows for consistent penetration as well as an up tempo full court attack from the tip. Don’t let the diminutive size get confused with any other physical shortcoming. Strong and cut, she handles bumps, pushing and shoving well and more often than not exploits them with an explosive first step exit from the contact. Her form, stroke and range will necessitate quick and tight opposition close outs but more consistency will be needed down the road to keep defenders honest over the course of a game. Off the drive she delivered several well thought and efficient passes while even dropping a floater or two. Those elements will be essential over time as the sheer size advantage of the helpside coming her way will negate some of her own options. On ball she’s a quick and aggressive which may help as she deals with some mismatch scenarios that are sure to come her way.
Mark Lewis is a national evaluator for Blue Star Basketball and the lead columnist for Blue Star Media. Twice ranked as one of the top 25 assistant coaches in the game by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), he has more than 20 years of college coaching experience at Memphis State, Cincinnati, Arizona State, Western Kentucky and Washington State.
Email [email protected]