Girls of Summer 2014 Tips Off

Kelly Sopak of the Cal Stars club team also coaches standout 2016 player Keanna Delos Santos at Miramonte of Orinda. Photo: Harold Abend.

Kelly Sopak of the Cal Stars club team also coaches standout 2016 player Keana Delos Santos at Miramonte of Orinda. Photo: Harold Abend.

The 10th Annual Girls of Summer Caravan for girls basketball has already begun with two stops in the Bay Area. We have more than 30 players mentioned. This year’s tour also will be covering more miles and tournaments than ever, seeing California girls in Louisville, Nashville, San Diego and Las Vegas.

Note: Our girls basketball analyst, Harold Abend, would not be able to take these trips this summer without the support of four sponsors: the Cal Stars club team, West Coast Jamboree, San Diego Classic and Mission Valley Sheraton. Cal-Hi Sports thanks all of them.

Note: The annual Girls of Summer player rankings and some of the other upcoming installments of the series will be for Gold Club members only. To become a Gold Club member and get all of our award-winning content, CLICK HERE.

While the Cal Stars Nike Elite squad was not in action at the Summer Splash on June 14-15 at Lafayette Bentley, there were other solid Cal Stars teams in action as well as some other top Sacramento and Bay Area club teams.

CALSTARS_PRIMARYThe biggest star of the first game the Caravan took in on June 14 is not exactly a new name. All State First Team Sophomore and Orinda Miramonte star Keana Delos Santos put on an exhibition of ball handling and shooting in a 62-48 Cal Stars Nike Flight victory over Palo Alto Midnight.

The 2016 Delos Santos finished with 25 points and four assists and only one turnover. Gabi Bade, a 2015 from Division V state champion Pinewood (Los Altos Hills), added nine points and four assists, while 2017 Maya Burris (Lick-Wilmerding, San Francisco) chipped in with seven points.

Cydnee Kinslow, a new member of the Cal Stars Nike Flight team, and a 2016 from Oakley Freedom, saw limited action but did snag seven rebounds.

Kinslow, a 6-foot-1 post who averaged 7.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last season, surprised everyone by walking on to the USA U17 trials two weeks ago in Colorado, and then she survived two rounds of cuts.

Cydnee Kinslow played on a team last season that won just nine games, but she's making a name for herself this summer. Photo: Harold Abend.

Cydnee Kinslow played on a team last season that won just nine games, but she’s making a name for herself this summer. Photo: Harold Abend.

“Going to the USA try-outs was my parents’ idea,” Kinslow told Cal-Hi Sports. “They said let’s do something different. My dad signed me up and both my parents made the trip.”

Prior to breaking out in Colorado, and even with decent numbers (6.6 ppg and 13.3 rpg as a freshman), Kinslow wasn’t really on anyone’s radar screen after a sophomore season that saw Freedom finish with a 9-17 record.

With her showing in Colorado, Cal Stars and Miramonte head coach Kelly Sopak invited Kinslow to try out for Nike Flight last week – and she made the team.

“When we got out to the car we did a little victory dance. My parents were ecstatic and I was ecstatic. One of the best feelings ever,” Kinslow remarked.

With Nike Flight playing as a split squad, the second Cal Stars group then took on Palo Alto Midnight in a back-to-back for the Peninsula-area girls. This time, the Midnight came back from trailing 32-31 at the half to win 67-59.

Two Santa Cruz County girls were the stars for Midnight, Charlee Boyle and Natalie Diaz.

Boyle, a 6-foot 2015 post from Scotts Valley, dominated inside and finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds. She received high marks for the Girls of Summer rankings. Diaz, a 5-foot-11 forward from 2015, had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Jamboree 2014 logoLoyola-Marymount-committed 2015 guard Marcella Hughes (Carondelet, Concord), Safiyyah Yasin, a 2015 guard from Oakland Skyline, Morgan Giacobazzi, another 2015 guard from Concord Clayton Valley, and Allison Scranton, a big 6-foot center from Petaluma, all played good at times for Nike Flight, but all were inconsistent.

The most entertaining of the three games observed was a 53-51 comeback win by JBS Elite 2016 after trailing Cal Sparks NorCal Black 27-18 at the half.

The big star for JBS was Julia Blackshell-Fair, a Jim Capoot Award winner at the 2013 West Coast Jamboree and a Fairfield Vanden guard who is beginning to make her mark in the 2017 class. She only had eight points but took over on both ends of the court down the stretch when JBS put it away.

Blackshell-Fair got a lot of help from First Team All-State Sophomore guard Irene “Gracie” Coivalu of Sacramento Rosemont. The dirty work inside was done by incoming 6-foot-3 junior McClatchy (Sacramento) power forward Gigi Garcia. After a rough first half, she settled down to register a double-double 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Cal Sparks was missing several top players and ran out of gas, scoring only eight points in the game’s final 11 minutes.

One Cal Sparks NorCal girl who will get a solid Girls of Summer ranking is Jordyn Bell, a 6-1 forward and 2015 from Sacramento Bradshaw Christian.

Others that played well for Sparks but were inconsistent or faded in the late second half were Sammy DeHart, a 2015 wing from Grass Valley Nevada Union, and Courtesy Clark, a hustling 2017 guard from Sacramento. Aliceah Hernandez, a 2016 from Sacramento, was deadly from 3-point range in the first half.

Julia Blacksell-Fair was considered for one of the 10 spots to be an all-state freshman and seems like she's on a path to be an all-state sophomore. Photo: Harold Abend.

Julia Blacksell-Fair was considered for one of the 10 spots to be an all-state freshman and seems like she’s on a path to be an all-state sophomore. Photo: Harold Abend.

Second Annual Queen’s Court another success

Nearly 60 of the top girls from throughout Northern California and even a couple of girls from Southern California converged at the Tice Valley Community Center in Walnut Creek on June 13 for the Second Annual Queen’s Court Skills Academy and Showcase hosted by Passthaball and Project Basketball.

Besides the Girls of Summer Caravan being on hand to evaluate the girls, Dan Olsen of ESPNW was there as was Clay Kallam of Full Court Press.

The three-hour session started with an intense skills session that included ball-handling and dribbling, footwork and shooting from long and medium range and the free-throw line.

The girls were then divided into teams for a first game and then re-set twice for two more games based on how well they played in each game.

Here’s an initial ranking order of the the top 25 girls based on combined performances in the skill sessions and games:
San Diego Classic 2014 logo
Jannon Otto (Oak Hills, Hesperia) 6-1, F, 2015
Julia Blackshell-Fair (Vanden, Fairfield) 5-7, G, 2017
Jordyn Bell (Bradshaw Christian, Sacramento) 6-1, F, 2015
Katie Rathbun (Carondelet, Concord) 6-0, F, 2015
Ma’Ane Mosley (Salesian, Richmond) 5-10, F, 2015
Sierra Smith (St. Mary’s, Stockton) 5-5, G, 2017
Kamira Saunders (Enterprise, Redding) 5-6, G, 2016
Kian McNair (Salesian, Richmond) 5-6, G, 2015
Gabe Bade (Pinewood, Los Altos Hills) 5-8, G, 2015
Destiny Graham (Eastside Prep, East Palo Alto) 6-3, C, 2015
Cydnee Kinslow (Freedom, Oakley) 6-1, F, 2016
Erika Bean (Bradshaw Christian, Sacramento) 5-7, G, 2015
Brittney Deadwiler (James Logan, Union City) 5-8, G, 2015
Jahnay Anderson (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose, 5-4, G, 2016
Marisa Mondave (St. Francis, Mountain View) 5-9, G, 2016
Tiffany Salinas (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) 6-0, F, 2016
Sami Oliver (Valley Christian, San Jose) 5-11, G, 2015
Aarion McDonald (Brookside Christian, Stockton) 5-5, G, 2016
Ashley Marquez (Valley Christian, San Jose) 5-5, G, 2016
Yazmeen Goo (Westmoor, Daly City) 5-10, G, 2015
Courtesy Clark (Sacramento) 5-9, G, 2017
Natalie Diaz (Soquel) 5-11, G, 2015
Kianna Baker (Tulare Union, Visalia) 6-4, C, 2016
Payten McKerras (Red Bluff) 6-3, P, 2016
Victoria Duenas (Pittsburg) 5-10, F, 2015
Sabrina Ionescu update

In case you missed it. This past Tuesday State Sophomore of the Year Sabrina Ionescu of Miramonte (Orinda) and Cal Stars Nike Elite was named to join the 2014 USA Basketball U17 World Championship Team that will compete in the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship from June 28-July 6 in the Czech Republic.

Ionescu, a 5-11 guard who won a Gold Medal with USA Basketball at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, had been training with the 2014 team as an alternate, however when Te’a Cooper from Georgia was no longer able to participate due to illness, Ionescu took her place.

Tentative Girls of Summer Caravan Schedule

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Girls of Summer Caravan will be making the following stops during the July NCAA viewing period and the dark period in between.

We will be covering the top California girls at these events but the final rankings will include a ranking of all the top players seen at the following four events:

July 6-8 Under Armour in Louisville, Kentucky
July 10-13 Battle in the Boro in Nashville, Tennessee
July 17-20 San Diego Classic in San Diego, California
July 23-25 Ballin in the Ballroom in Las Vegas, Nevada

Harold Abend is the associate editor of and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend

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