They’ve Got Talent: State’s Underclass Girls Lead Nation

Dijonai Carrington is younger sister of Oregon football recruit Darren Carrington. Her father, Darren Sr., played for the San Diego Chargers. Her mother, Vickie, is her coach at Horizon Christian. Photo: Harold Abend.

Dijonai Carrington is younger sister of Oregon football recruit Darren Carrington. Her father, Darren Sr., played for the San Diego Chargers. Her mother, Vickie, is her coach at Horizon Christian. Photo: Harold Abend.

For one two-week stretch, these 70 non-seniors showed the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan they’ve got the skills and talent to gain the attention of Division I colleges. Yes, the Samuelson sisters are amazing, but so is a freshman class led by Dijonai Carrington.

By Harold Abend
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There was more to a recent two-week stretch of watching some of the top teams in California girls basketball than simply comparing undefeated Mater Dei of Santa Ana and Windward of Los Angeles.

At the Campolindo Shootout on Jan. 26 in the Bay Area and at two events in Orange County – the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei and the P.A.W.S. Division IV Showcase at JSerra – the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan couldn’t help but notice how many top underclass players were performing at levels that would make many college coaches salivate.

While 2012 Cal-Hi Sports State Freshman of the Year Katie Lou Samuelson (15 points), her Stanford-bound junior sister Karlie Samuelson (13 points), and sophomore sharpshooter Andee Velasco (game high 20 points, 4-of-5 from 3-point range) all turned in solid performances in a 74-46 win by unbeaten national No. 1 Mater Dei over state-ranked No. 19 Oaks Christian of Westlake Village, there were a lot of other players, particularly underclass girls, that made marks for themselves.

Junior Jordin Canada stole the show in San Juan Capistrano, after taking over down the stretch to finish with 24 points, seven assists, seven steals and five rebounds, in state-ranked No. 2 Windward’s 59-48 win over a very solid host JSerra team. Canada, who some rank as the nation’s top point guard regardless of class, was aided by fellow junior Kristen Simon with a strong double-double 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Of all the girls that made big impressions over the weekend, none made more of a statement than freshman Dijonai Carrington of San Diego Horizon Christian in a 73-48 win over Los Angeles Marlborough.

“She’s just a freshman?” responded Marlborough head coach and former Cal star Sherrise Smith, after the Caravan informed her of that fact as Smith watched Carrington single-handedly take down her team.

Carrington, a 5-foot-11 guard who can play any position on the floor and who is considered by some as one of the top freshmen in the nation, is unafraid to launch from well beyond the high school 3-point line. Plus, she can drive and she’s all over the court on defense.

With the score tied 8-8, Carrington proceeded to score 21 of Horizon’s points in a 32-13 run, including an NBA-range 3-pointer. Late in the game she launched a shot from three feet beyond where the NBA line would be and hit nothing but net.

Carrington finished with a triple-double 35 points, 10 rebounds, 10 steals, four assists, and three blocks.

Asked about what she’s been working on after a summer in which made a name for herself during the viewing period, Carrington responded.

“On offense, I’m working on my short pull-up and mid-range jumper,” she said. “On defense, it’s running through passing lanes and reading their eyes.”

The 70 talented players listed below are all from teams seen at the Campolindo Shootout and in Orange County over a two-week period. They are all juniors, sophomores or freshmen and all can be considered prospects for the next level. They have been grouped by team and in the pecking order we evaluated for that team:

Gabby Green from St. Mary's of Berkeley is one of the top juniors in the nation.

Gabby Green from St. Mary’s of Berkeley is one of the top juniors in the nation.

Archbishop Mitty (San Jose)
Kelli Hayes, 6-1, G, Jr.
Jahnay Anderson, 5-4, G, Fr.
NiaJai Craig, 5-10, C, Soph.

Desire Finnie, 5-10, F, Jr.
Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman, 5-2, G, Soph.
Sierra Franklin, 5-7, G, Jr.

Brookside Christian (Stockton)
Tiara Tucker, 5-6, G, Jr.
Raky’ra Gabriel, 6-1, F, Soph.
Breanna Grisby, 5-10, G, Soph.
Arianna Vaughn, 5-10, G, Soph.
Rauline Martinez, 5-6, G, Soph.

Campolindo (Moraga)
Ashley Ewing, 5-11, F/G, Jr.

Carondelet (Concord)
Natalie Romeo, 5-7, G, Jr.
Makenzie Cast, 5-10, G, Jr.
Gabriella Grupalo, 5-7, G, Jr.
Christina Chenault, 5-9, G, Soph.

Heritage (Brentwood)
Erin Asher, 5-4, G, Jr.
Megan Vernoy, 5-10, F, Soph.
Sydney Berry, 5-4, G, Jr.

Horizon (San Diego)
Dijonai Carrington, 5-11, G, Fr.
Janae Omusi, 5-9, F, Jr.
Sarah Porter, 5-10, F, Jr.

JSerra (San Juan Capisrtrano)
Coco Miller, 5-10, G, Soph.
Megan House, 6-4, C, Soph.
Courtney Vaccher, 6-2, F, Jr.
Corrine Bogle, 5-8, G, Jr.

La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla)
Mai-loni Henson, 6-0, G, Fr.
Melanie Quijana, 5-6, G, Soph.
Sabrina Callahan, 6-0, F/C, Jr.

Mater Dei (Chula Vista)
Kandiss Barber, 5-10, G, Jr.
Olusola Smith, 5-11, F, Jr.

Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
Karlie Samuelson, 6-1, F, Jr.
Katie Lou Samuelson, 6-3, F, Soph.
Andee Velasco, 5-7, G, Soph.
Jayde Woods, 5-11, G. Fr.
Alli Brown, 5-8, G, Soph.
Cheyanne Allen, 5-10, G, Soph.
Peyton Langston, 6-1, F, Jr.
Ally Rosenblum, 6-3, F, Fr.

Miramonte (Orinda)
Sabrina Ionescu, 5-10, G, Fr.
Megan Reid, 5-8, G, Jr.
Breanna Alford, 5-11, F, Jr.
Keanna de los Santos, 5-6, G, Fr.
Uriah Howard, 5-10, F, Fr.

Oakland Tech (Oakland)
Kelea Pickeral-Dennis, 6-1, G/F, Soph.
Amelia Li, 5-4, G, Soph.
Elayshia Woolridge, 5-5, G, Soph.
Jayoni Lewis, 5-3, G, Soph.
Hadiyah Owens, 6-0, F, Soph.

Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills)
Ali Bettencourt, 5-10, G, Jr.
Michelle Barkley, 6-1, F, Jr.

Oaks Christian (Westlake Village)
Katie Campbell, 5-8, G, Fr.
Kailee Severt, 6-0, F, Jr.

Orange Lutheran (Orange)
Sarah Stumme, 5-7, G, So.
Courtney Lofink, 5-6, G, Jr.

Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth)
Kennedy Burke, 6-1, G/F, Soph.
Cheyanne Wallace, 5-11, P, Soph.
Zoe Goss, 5-10, G, Jr.

St. Bernard (Playa del Rey)
Chyanne Butler, 5-5, G, Jr.
Chenelle Pelle, 6-2, F/C, Jr.
Michelle Curry, 5-9, F, Jr.
Cydney Bolton, 5-6, G, Jr

St. Mary’s (Berkeley)
Gabby Green, 6-1, G, Jr.
Mikayla Cowling, 6-0, F, Jr.
Taylor Berry, 5-11, F, Jr.
Zavanna Negron, 5-3, G, Soph.
Tiara Chinn, 5-6, G, Fr.

Windward (Los Angeles)
Jordin Canada, 5-7, G, Jr.
Kristen Simon, 6-1, F/C, Jr.
Macchiati Smith, 5-7, G, Jr.
Danielle Samuel, 5-5, G, Fr.

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  1. […] other news, Harold Abend has been traveling the state to look at the top girls players and has a list of talent that includes Mitty’s Kelli Hayes, Jahnay Anderson, and NiaJai Craig, […]

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