SportStars Magazine

Ultimate 15

There were a lot of very good players from the Class of 2018 all the way down to some 2022 players at the inaugural 89-team EOT/End of the Trail Bay Area Ultimate Challenge from July 23-25 at the Ultimate Fieldhouse in Walnut Creek.

However, the only players to make the Top 15 were all from the Platinum Division and not surprisingly the list is dominated by players from the division’s victorious Cal Stars Nike EYBL — the team many consider the best girls club basketball team in the nation.

All players had to be observed for more than a portion of a game to be ranked and these rankings are for this tournament only and not the entire NCAA July viewing period

— Harold Abend

Aquira DeCosta

1. AQUIRA DECOSTA // Cal Stars Nike EYBL
St. Mary’s-Stockton, 6-2, 2018 wing 

There was little doubt the ESPN No. 1 wing and No. 5 overall ranked player in her class was the best player. She filled the stat sheet every game and had a double-double in four of the five games despite playing around half of the 32-minute contests.

2. HALEY JONES // Cal Stars Nike EYBL
Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, 6-1, 2019 wing

It was close between Jones, Oregon’s Cameron Brink, Cal Stars’ McKenzie Forbes for No. 2. Jones gets the nod for smoothly doing all the little things well, scoring when needed and playing exceptional defense. The interest in Jones is really heating up.

3. CAMERON BRINK // Northwest Stars Black 2017
Southridge-Beaverton (Ore.), 6-4, 2020 center

Strictly based on numbers, Brink could have gone ahead of Jones. However, she has a much heavier load to carry despite being an incoming sophomore. Noted girls basketball analyst Clay Kallam loves Brinks’ game, as did the USA U16 selection committee that had her, along with Jones, among 18 finalists for the 12-member team.

4. MCKENZIE FORBES // Cal Stars Nike Elite
Folsom, 6-1, 2018 guard/wing

The daughter of former Harlem Globetrotters star Sterling “Smooth” Forbes learned a lot from her dad — and with her size and strength, the Cal-commit is a load to handle for smaller players trying to guard her on the perimeter. She can shoot the 3-ball or go to the basket against players her size or bigger.

5. ANGEL JACKSON // Orinda Magic Black
Salesian-Richmond, 6-5, 2019 center

Part of the reason top Division-I college coaches wanted to see Angel play at this event is because word has gotten out that she is starting to look to score more and her style is getting more aggressive. That’s exactly what the top schools are looking for from a girl with her height and size.

6. KARISMA ORTIZ // San Jose Cagers Blue
Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, 6-0, 2018 point guard

It was hard to evaluate Ortiz, as a member of a Cagers team made up mostly of Mitty players, because without Jones she has to carry a much larger load. Even so, she played well and has major attention from several schools, including USC.

7. NEENAH YOUNG // Cal Stars Nike EYBL
St. Mary’s-Stockton, 5-11, 2018 shooting guard

If Young was on a team other than the top girls club team in the nation, she would be a superstar. In this group, she’s still Top 10 but falls behind Ortiz based on her overall game. That said, she shoots the 3-pointer better than any girl above her on this list.

8. EBONI WALKER // Vegas Bulldogs
Centennial-Las Vegas, 6-0, 2019 wing

The ESPN No. 5 wing from her class can handle the ball, goes inside and out and shoots the 3. Had the Bulldogs not lost in the Platinum Division Golden Gate bracket final game she would have gone higher, but she’s still the team’s top player and showed very well

9. MAGGIE FREEMAN // Northwest Stars Black 2017
Southridge-Beaverton (Ore.), 5-11, 2018 shooting guard

The left-hander and top shooter on the Stars — and her Southridge team that won the Oregon 6A state championship last year — has a solid all-around game with just a couple of weaknesses, including needing some work on finishing with her right hand. There’s a reason why she has some mid-major offers and interest from Pac-12 schools too.

Ariel Johnson

10. ARIEL JOHNSON // Cal Stars Nike EYBL
St. Mary’s-Stockton, 5-8, 2018 point guard

The prototypical point guard had her best games when it counted: In the Platinum Division Nob Hill bracket championship victory over the Northwest Stars Navy, and then in the overall Platinum Division 67-41 title-game victory over Northwest Stars Black 2017.

11. HALEY VAN DYKE // Cal Stars Nike EYBL
Campolindo-Moraga, 6-0, 2018 wing/forward

The sixth Stars Nike EYBL player to grace the Top 15 was consistent as the top player off the bench for the Stars. Even when she wasn’t scoring, Van Dyke was hitting the glass hard and played good defense all tournament. She even helped get Brink in foul trouble in the Platinum final.

12. MADISON LUNDQUIST // Way to Win Gold
Woodinville (Wash.), 6-2, 2018 power forward/center

Although she is not as highly regarded in recruiting circles as some others on this list, Lundquist had a huge game in a win against the San Jose Cagers Blue. She hits the glass hard, defends well and showed a mid-range shot as well as an ability to score inside.

Hannah Jump

13. HANNAH JUMP // Cal Stars Nike EYBL
Pinewood-Los Altos Hills, 5-11, 2019 shooting guard

It took a while for her to get jumpstarted, but the Stars Nike EYBL No. 2-ranked player off the bench on this list saved her best for the biggest audience of college coaches. She caught fire in the Platinum finals win over Northwest Stars 2017 Black by hitting five 3-pointers and finishing with 19 points.

14. NATALIE HOFF // Northwest Stars Black 2017
Southridge-Beaverton (Ore.), 6-1, 2018 forward/wing 

The third player from the Platinum Division runner-up had a very solid tournament. She hits the glass hard, can handle the ball, can score on the perimeter or attack the basket. She also has a good mid-range jumper that has helped attract some solid mid-major interest.

15. LESILA FINAU // Cal Stars Nike EYBL
Dublin, 5-10, 2018 point guard

The high-energy player who comes off the bench rounds out the Top 15 as the eighth player from the Stars Nike EYBL. She didn’t score a lot in some games, but had her best game in the Platinum championship with seven points, three steals, three rebounds and two assists.

Other Considered (Alphabetical order)

NICOLE BLAKES // San Jose Cagers, Archbishop Mitty, 6-2, 2018 center

MADISON CAMPBELL // Cal Stars Nike EYBL, Clovis West, 5-11, 2019 shooting guard

JUSTICE ETHRIDGE // Vegas Bulldogs, Centennial-Las Vegas, 5-8, 2018 shooting guard

ALLISON HALLBERG // Northwest Stars Black 2017 // Wenatchee (Wash.), 5-11, 2018 forward

TAIMANE LESA-HARDEE // Orinda Magic Black, Salesian-Richmond, 5-7, 2018 shooting guard

RAINAH SMITH // Cal Stars Flight, Sacred Heart Cathedral-S.F., 5-11, 2018 shooting guard

CLAIR STEELE // Cal Stars Nike EYBL, Miramonte-Orinda, 5-5, 2018 point guard

JAMTOWN 5

The only other NCAA certified viewing event for girls in Northern California during the summer viewing period had 35 teams at Jamtown in Oakland last week.

Ramani Parker (CREDIT: USA Basketball)

1) RAMANI PARKER // Fresno Lady Heat
Central-Fresno, 6-3, 2019 wing

According to sources at the Bay Area Summer Showcase, Parker, one of 18 finalists for the 12-member USA U16 team, was far and away the top player at the tournament.

Next four in alphabetical order:

Ila Lane // Peninsula Elite Black, Woodside Priory, 6-4, 2019 post

Mia Lowery // Oakland Soldiers, McClatchy, 5-11, 2019 wing/forward

Jada Moss // Peninsula Elite Black, St. Mary’s-Stockton, 5-10, 2019 wing

Ava Williams // Peninsula Elite Black, Presentation-San Jose, 5-10 wing

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