Girls of Summer series continues with writeups about several underclass gems that were uncovered in last week’s San Diego Classic from the 3A Division and even the 2A Division.
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Since the Girls of Summer Caravan could only see a fraction of the over 1,500 girls that participated in the 27th Annual San Diego Classic last week at several locations, we did the same thing as in years past and tried to cover as many 3A teams as possible on the first day, and then focus on the teams that win over the remaining three days.
On the final day of the tournament, we add in the teams from the 2A championship title game we cover, and that’s how we come up with the girls that will be ranked in the Girls of Summer player rankings that will be released after the NCAA viewing period that ends this coming Monday.
In the meantime, the following is a list of underclass girls observed that each in their own way had a breakout at the San Diego Classic.
(listed in alphabetical order with high school, position, height and class)
Alessandra Aguirre (La Jolla Country Day, La Jolla) G, 5-8, 2017
An incoming freshman, she handled the point well at the San Diego Classic could have a bright future if her game continues to develop.
Mia Belvin (Millikan, Long Beach) G, 5-6, 2016
According to previous State Coach of the Year Lorene Morgan, this speedy guard turned her ankle but in the game she was observed still showed some very nice moves on offense and was intense on defense.
Mi Cole Cayton (St. Mary’s, Stockton) G, 5-8, 2016
Of the incoming Rams’ sophomores, Kat Tudor and Angel Johnson are known, but Cayton is a developing legitimate talent that can score when called upon and plays a pivotal role in the swarming defense when she’s in the game.
Sammy DeHart (Nevada Union, Grass Valley) W, 5-11, 2015
She was a solid contributor last season but few outside the Sierra Foothills know about her. The incoming junior is only 15 years old and her game is continuing to develop. Fundamentally, she’s sound, shoots the mid-range shot, plays bigger than she is, but needs to work on speed and leg strength to match her upper body strength. In a bit of an upset over undermanned El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge, she had 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Chloe Eackles (Pinewood, Los Altos Hills) G, 5-9, 2016
Her sister, Haile Eackles, was a previous Division V State Player of the Year and although she couldn’t show a lot in a blowout 2A title game win over Chehalis, Washington, she has a lot of the same mannerisms and moves of her older sister.
Mariana Ecija (La Jolla Country Day, La Jolla) G, 5-5, 2016
This incoming junior has emerged as one of the team’s leading scorers this summer while also sharing duties as the Torreys’ point guard. She can shoot the three as well as a mid-range jumper and can finish with either hand. Defense is an area for improvement.
Sydney Fadal (St. Mary’s, Stockton) F, 5-10, 2016
She picked up the slack in the paint at San Diego with size out of the lineup. Her game is a little raw but like most of the 2016 and 2017 players observed that have solid potential she seems to improve each game.
Angel Johnson (St. Mary’s, Stockton) F, 5-8, 2016
No one had a better overall tournament at the San Diego Classic than this 5-8 multi-position player that played mostly in the post where she continuously outmuscled and outplayed girls 6-7 inches taller – and even a 6-5, 19-year-old from Germany that many of the small college coaches in attendance liked a lot and even thought could play at the D1 level. In the six games, Johnson had four double-doubles and her defensive intensity, quickness and switching ability was off the charts. Look for a breakout season from Johnson who is finally gaining the confidence she lacked as an incoming freshman.
Aysha Kirkland (Clovis West, Fresno) G, 5-7, 2016
This flashy guard looks like she’s going to emerge as one of the leaders for head coach Craig Campbell. In the one game she was observed, Kirkland played very well in a loss to Bishop’s of La Jolla.
Destiny Littleton (Bishop’s, La Jolla) G, 5-9, 2017
One of the girls that had the biggest breakout at the San Diego Classic was this deceptively quick, solidly built girl that can play the 1 or 2 and at her age isn’t afraid to mix it up with older, bigger girls. She shoots the three well for an incoming freshman and finishes strong with either hand. She had 14 points in the 3A title game 49-43 loss to St. Mary’s of Stockton.
The Lucci triplets (Peninsula, Rolling Hills Estates) 2015
Madison Lucci, G, 5-8
Paris Lucci, G, 5-6
Tiffany Lucci, W, 5-8
They’re not major college material yet, and even after observing them in more than one game, it’s hard to tell who is better since they complement each other so well and seem to know where each other is on the court at all times. All three can finish and play solid defense with Tiffany possibly having a slight overall edge.
Lauren Sakai (Keppel, Alhambra) G, 5-5, 2015
We had heard she could play but didn’t see her after she broke her hand last year at the San Diego Classic. During the season that followed the Keppel floor general showed just why she led the team to the CIFSS Division II quarterfinals last season as a sophomore, and is currently the point guard for Cal Storm Team Taurasi.
Sierra Smith (St. Mary’s, Stockton) G, 5-5, 2017
This 12-year-old incoming freshman has been chronicled all summer as one of California’s top 2017 players at the guard position. Should she continue to develop, her name could be getting a lot of mentions in the next four years.
Sophia Song (Keppel, Alhambra) W, 5-10, 2016
Because of her play inside combined with teammate Sakai on the perimeter, the Aztecs had La Jolla Country Day on the ropes, before Song fouled out in the second overtime and her team fell 54-51 in the 3A opening game of championship pool play. The transfer from Torrance Bishop Montgomery still had game-highs of 19 points and 12 rebounds, one of three double-doubles she had in the six-game tournament.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend