It took long enough, but it was apparently just the right time.
After seven years of operation and nearly 20 one-day events that have taken place in the Albany, Utica, and Scranton areas (along with several dozen summer sessions), 2022 became the year of the first EST showcase based in Western New York.
St. John Fisher played host to the 1st Annual Empire State Takeover WNY Warm-Up on April 29. 82 players, almost exclusively from the 2023-25 classes (with one 2026), spent their Friday night putting work in & competing in front of representatives from nearly 30 colleges. This event consisted of an exclusively New York field of 82 athletes representing 8 different sections, nearly 60% from WNY, and with out-of-area players coming from as far as upwards of 5 hours away.
Even though I can’t watch nearly as much as I’d like to on event day, there were still several things that were noteworthy & caught my attention. Of course, all 3v3 & 5v5 action was recorded, and after reviewing & taking notes on all game film, many more observations could be made. Before we get into more detailed player recaps, a few general notes on the evening that was:
- First, a big shoutout goes to all participants and their families. I usually attempt to slightly overbook because not only are there many that back out during event week, there’s always a few no-call no-shows that messes everything up and makes me adjust 3v3 & 5v5 teams on the fly (which frustrates me to no end). Though there certainly were event week backouts due to various reasons – 15 of them, to be exact – for the first time ever, I had zero no-call no-shows. That made life SO much easier in the moment. Thank you all!
- Another thing that was great was that the vast majority of colleges within a couple hours of Rochester had at least someone on staff at the event. I’d put it at around 95% representation. Not only is it a benefit to the players participating that are D2 or D3 level players, but it also makes who didn’t come when it was in their backyard every bit as apparent. These are things that I notice and remember when coaches are calling me & looking for info on kids.
- I’ve been asked in the past why I let non-senior commits play in events like this. There are numerous reasons, but a few quick ones: it’d be stupid of me to turn them away, they’re usually players that have been in my events for years that ‘understand the expectation’ and are often leaders, and if they’re coming through to put some work in even if there’s nothing really at stake for them (besides the visibility & media stuff), it shows that they just really enjoy the game & often end up being some of the most competitive players in the gym. That was certainly the case here, as the four current D1 commits all brought their own individual dynamic to the event. Whether it was Fordham commit Kaety L’Amoreaux‘s ultimate toughness & attack mode mentality, Loyola (MD) commit Kailey Kalet‘s consistent two-way impact and natural leadership, Binghamton commit Bella Pucci‘s never-wavering motor & energy, or fellow Binghamton commit Kaylee Krysztof‘s smoothness & playmaking, I thought they all played/competed at a high level. Always great when the commits show they still want to get after it.
- I try to watch as many players as possible as often as possible within what I call my ‘coverage region’, which the Rochester area has become just as primary to me as my 518 base, but I can’t get to everyone. Running an event in the 585 was great not just to open it up to a wider array of players in the region, but also to hopefully see some new faces. There were a few players that I had a chance to see for the first time at this event that really caught my eye – Madalyn Kelly (2023) and Shania Estrich (2024), both under-the-radar local talents, were leaders in that regard. Calie Klassen and Megan Milleville, both 2025s – Calie from Canton, Megan from the Buffalo area – are up & comers that show promise that I saw for the first time. Gabriella Brown-Sturdivant (2025) wasn’t necessarily a first-timer, but it had been a good year since the only other time I really watched her play, so she’s another new face to me that stuck out. This was as productive of an event as I’ve ever had from a sheer evaluation standpoint, and the new faces that came through & put in work are a big reason why.
- ‘Playing hard is a skill’ is a phrase that seemingly gets truer by the year, and it’s never more of a fact than in settings like this. Let’s say it like it is – some people come through and play like they ‘want to win’, some people come through and try to get theirs. There’s a reason we don’t keep score during 3v3 & 5v5 play. I want to see who competes like they’re trying to win the game even if no one knows what the score is. The ones that do so separate themselves in a big way; the ones that don’t also separate themselves. Players like Sophie Auer, Mya Herman, Kailey Kalet, Kaety L’Amoreaux, Sydney Postell, Hannah VanDerzee, Sophia Bonnell, Sierra Carter, Sydney Delisle, Ava Sandroni, and Grace Villnave always seem to bring it with a consistently high compete level, and this event was no different.
- The heavy incorporation of both 3v3 & 5v5 play allows coaches, evaluators, and myself to get a look at players in different settings – I love 3v3 from an evaluation standpoint personally – and it also provides the opportunity for players with different kinds of skill sets to emerge depending on the setting. There are things more easily seen & noticed in 3v3 play; same with 5v5. With all that said, there’s always different players that particularly make their presence felt & establish themselves at an event within one of those in particular. Reviewing the game film from the 3v3 session, it was players like the aforementioned Sophie Auer, Kaylee Krysztof, Sophia Bonnell and Calie Klassen along with Grace Alexander, Molly Boek, Brianna Barr-Buday, Leah Thompson, Meghan Trapper and Carlie Young that used it to break loose. In the 5v5 action, Bella Franchi, Mya Herman, Leah Middleton, Macy Bacon, Shania Estrich, Ella Gennoy, Kyla Hayes, and Bria Watkins were among players that utilized their skill sets to produce in a 94×50 setting.
- The future is looking increasingly bright from I-81 west in New York. When you look back at the player list in a few years, I’m positive you’ll see a sizable number of the event’s 2024s & 2025s playing scholarship level basketball. Some of them, such as 2024s Brianna Barr-Buday, Marisa Smith, and Mariah Watkins along with 2025s Kyla Hayes, Amaia Jackson, and Bria Watkins already hold Division I offers. On top of that, I could see upwards of another dozen up & comers that were in attendance being next in line on that scholarship list – 2024s Makana Gardner & Jordyn Williams, 2025 Ava Sandroni, and the event’s lone 2026 Emily McDonald, just to name a few. Fun to watch the young guns turn ‘the future’ into ‘the present’ in these environments.
This was truly the most balanced EST one-day event I can remember. It felt like no one in attendance was ‘in over their head’, and many players put together solid performances. However, writing about that many here would make for a Bible and not an article. In the interest of that, here’s a sample of some players that really showed out in one way or another at the WNY Warm-Up:
Grace Alexander (Penfield/XGen Elite 2023): Grace has always been a steady presence on the ball & a knockdown shooter, but how she shot it in her backyard at this event was nothing short of spectacular… exploded for 11 threes in 3v3 play, one of the hottest stretches I’ve ever seen at an EST event, only missing a couple in the process… got good looks consistently by doing ‘the simple things’ that many overlook, such as quick ball movement & relocation… even as hot as she was, she played within herself, maintained a role as a facilitator, and showed good shot selection within the flow of her team’s offense… a night to remember for one of the Rochester area’s more solid guards.
Sophie Auer (Lewiston-Porter/XGen Elite 2023): The queen of energy has developed a skill set to match the undying motor, and like pretty much any time on the court over the last year, she proved to be one of the most potent forces in the building… 5’9″, but plays like a 6 footer with her explosive athleticism, willingness to be physical, and bounce in traffic… has been a right-dominant player in the past, but showed the ability to get downhill going left & finish on several occasions when that was given to her… knows how to utilize & take the fullest advantage of her strengths… spent more of her time at/around the rim here, but flashed the improved perimeter J too… moves well without the ball, plays well off others, has good feel for the game, doesn’t need the offense to run through her to produce at a high level… very good rebounder… the ultimate ‘motor never wavers’ kid in any setting, and it particularly showed here… has effectively added/diversified her overall package & is a natural 3 now, and Sophie checks the boxes of a scholarship-level contributor at the wing.
Molly Boek (Saugerties/NY Havoc 2023): Molly’s been coming to EST events for a couple years and seems to always show well, so to see her establish herself with strong stretches of play wasn’t a surprise… 6 footer that’s a bit of a utility player at the wing or 4 spots… motor never turns down, always seemed to be in the mix on the glass & in loose ball situations… length & overall activity level was disruptive on the defensive end and seemed to impact some of the other wings she matched up with… manufactured points in bursts during the event, mainly hustle points and transition opportunities, either streaking & finishing or making it happen with the ball herself… plays best with pace and in an uptempo setting where she’s able to best use the physical tools… one of the event’s longest travelers at nearly 4 hours, Molly made it worth the trip.
Jackie Funk (Penfield/I-90 Elite 2023): It didn’t take long for one of Section 5’s most consistently solid players to settle in, and when she did, she showed all of the Swiss Army knife characteristics that make her such a safe bet to be a contributor at the next level… high basketball IQ and good general feel & understanding of the game – produced throughout the night and always did so within the flow of the game… versatile 5’10” wing with a more college-ready frame than the average… found a way to take advantage of different matchups, whether it was dragging forwards out to the perimeter, posting up smaller guards, or using timely precision cuts to manufacture points when her defender lost track of her… spent more time finishing at the rim & showing the in-between game, but also banged a few threes… quietly one of the most consistent producers of the night, which is a usual occurrence for Jackie.
Mya Herman (Canandaigua/NY Royals 2023): In Mya’s EST ‘one-day event’ debut, not only did she show much of what has made her one of the 585’s more respected backcourt talents, but she also showed signs of diversifying her game… 5’8″ combo guard and an exceptional all-around athlete that plays with pace on offense & speeds ballhandlers up on defense… harassed the ball & made opponents give up their dribble in the backcourt on a few occasions… plays with unwavering energy… used the athleticism to get to the rim a few times & was potent when she got to her right, but it was the midrange game where she did the most damage… rises straight up & on balance even after a quick burst, clears some air on the midrange J, and hit several from the 12′-17′ range along with a couple runners… also stretched to the arc and knocked down a couple college-range threes that looked good – this hasn’t been a calling card of hers, so showing it here is noteworthy as it looks like she’s continuing to build… particularly strong in 5v5 play and a good day at the office overall.
Kailey Kalet (Union Springs/NY Royals 2023; Loyola (MD) commit): Even when she didn’t score, she made positive contributions throughout the night. Unfortunately for her opponents, she did plenty of putting the ball in the basket too… created for others as always and played the “true PG” role well here, but she was also assertive & potent on her own… explosive athlete and uses change of speed well to further enhance the speed she possesses – burned defenders several times with a simple hesitation & blow-by before finishing at the rim… showed some three-level scoring ability with a little midrange action & a few threes… competed at both ends & wasn’t afraid to take the challenge against some of the event’s other top guards on the defensive end… came in straight from a track meet, surprisingly on time as it was anticipated that she’d get there late, and she still had more juice in the tank than nearly everyone in the last session – played like she had a point to prove, which is business as usual for the Patriot League commit.
Madalyn Kelly (Webster Thomas 2023): It was my first time watching Mady – judging by conversations with some of the collegiate coaches in attendance, I wasn’t the only one. She must be good at the whole ‘first impression’ thing… 5’10” wing with a distinguishable skill set that translates directly to the collegiate level, and she stood out within her surroundings during both 3v3 & 5v5 play… knockdown shooter with a smooth, consistent stroke & range well beyond the college line… once she settled into 5v5 play, she showed expansion of her offensive game & played off the perimeter J, showing a midrange jumper and floater game… threw a few great hit-ahead passes in transition, including a couple long one-handed bounce passes to hit a streaking teammate in stride, showing the ability to lead the break & willingness to give it up… eye-opening performance from an under the radar talent, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she gained more traction from colleges in attendance than anyone else there.
Kaylee Krysztof (Depew/I-90 Elite 2023; Binghamton commit): KK, known & regarded as a knockdown shooter before anything else, didn’t hit a single three on the night. She still finds herself on this list for her play, which shows the maturation & development into an impactful all-around talent… with the perimeter J not falling, she went into creator mode on the ball, and her court vision & passing ability were on full display in every part of the event… worked well in P&R game, threaded the needle to hit cutting teammates, and mixed substance with style by dazzling a couple times in transition… started using the skill off the bounce to get to the rim as the event progressed… played with decent energy, used her length & quick hands to tip several passes… impactful night in various ways for the dynamic America East bound guard.
Kaety L’Amoreaux (Maine-Endwell/Hoopers NY 2023; Fordham commit): The ‘pitbull in shorts’ made the trip from the Binghamton area, and as usual, even though she’s already committed to perennial A-10 contender Fordham, she played with the passion & competitive fire of someone that was working to get on someone’s radar… exceptionally explosive athlete that knows how to use it to its fullest advantage in game play – quick burst off the dribble, invites/initiates contact and gets off the floor well through it, and plays well in traffic… not bashful about going at her defender’s head and making something happen… although she filled it up, often at the rim or with the in-between game but also with around a half-dozen threes as well, it was her undying motor, conditioning, and competitiveness that separated her from the pack.
Joleen Lusk (Cherry Valley-Springfield/The Athenas 2023): The Oneonta area small-school standout had a solid night in general, but she saved her best for last with one of the better individual performances of the night in her team’s last 5v5 game… all of 6’1″ with an intriguing mix of back-to-basket & face-up abilities… crafty finisher around the rim, can score with either hand & at different angles, and has a few post moves in her bag on either block, from the simple stuff to advanced footwork moves and even flashed the sky hook… good hands and can catch & finish on the move in P&R situations… face-up game is potent thanks to her shooting ability – good with the midrange & perimeter J, stretched the three to beyond the college line, and even attacked a closeout & hit a midrange two dribble pull-up… will take advantage of favorable matchups & score, but also has court vision out of the post… attacked the glass… very good day for Jo.
Leah Middleton (Auburn/I-90 Elite 2023): It took Leah a little while to settle in, but it felt like she got stronger throughout the event and played some of her best basketball in the later stages… 5’11” wing with the eye-opening physical tools – length, athleticism that includes mobility & fluidity, etc… showed it in flashes during 3v3, but it was the 94×50 field of play that allowed her to showcase her abilities the best… continued on-ball development means that she can handle business herself and is more of a threat to make something happen in a 1v1 situation than the average wing – she showed this with dribble moves & finishes on several occasions… played more assertively on offense during the back end, flashed the range along with the ability to create off the bounce, and stood out late… motor was consistent and showed the ability to defend different kinds of backcourt players & wings… Division 2 offered already, and not only do I anticipate more coming into the fold, it’s entirely possible to see LMs enter the picture too.
Sydney Postell (Churchville-Chili/NY Havoc 2023): I’ve gotten progressively higher on this 5’10” wing over the last year, and she showed why by putting it together for stretches at this event, not backing down & even showing out at times when matched up directly against fellow wings with scholarship offers… particularly potent off the dribble when she gets to her right & has developed some on-ball skill to create for herself, but also flashed ability with the left a few times… moves well off the ball & can put the defense in precarious positions with precise cuts if they lose eyesight… long & rangy athlete that is a difference maker in transition… flashed the floater game… spent most of her time at or going to the rim, but banged a long three to show the range as well… continued to play hard until the finish & stood out in the later stages because of it… ‘late bloomer’ type that Division 2 programs should be making a point to get eyes on.
Bella Pucci (Fairport/I-90 Elite 2023; Binghamton commit): Add Bella to the list of Division I commits that came through and was one of the hardest playing athletes in the gym… scored when needed and did it efficiently at all three levels, but it was her overall floor game that perhaps stole the show on O, using her presence to set others up & make it easier for teammates to eat… gets the most out of her exceptional athleticism with a motor that doesn’t turn down… led the break not just with the dribble, but by getting it out of her hands quickly & hitting ahead in transition… seems to always show well in an EST jersey, and this was just another example.
Meghan Trapper (Sacred Heart/XGen Elite 2023): Trapper’s performance at this event is one of the many reasons I value the 3v3 play as well. She frankly didn’t get all that many touches during 5v5 action, but in the 3v3 setting where it’s impossible to hide or be hidden, she made her presence very apparent with one of the hottest hands of the night… 5’10” wing with a smooth stroke & parking lot range that can get hot in a hurry… canned 7 threes in 3v3 alone and didn’t miss much in the process… can play off the shot & create off the dribble when the time is right… will go into college with a well-defined skill set, but physically not a ‘finished product’ and has the potential to continue building & expanding for years to come… one of the ‘higher upside’ 2023s in the gym.
Carlie Young (Baldwinsville/The Athenas 2023): I’ve had the chance to watch Carlie from time to time over the last couple years – more in the last 6 months than at any other time – and she’s developed a skill set that, at her size, makes her a prospect that’s increasingly attractive to collegiate programs… at 5’9″, she’s transformed into the prototypical college-level 2 guard. The shooting stroke has become relatively quick, compact, and consistent, allowing her to get it off with a consistent result without needing much time… what caught my eye is that she established herself early in 5v5 by doing other things after she missed her first couple – an offensive rebound/putback and run-out transition layup helped her get into the flow of the game, and then the shot came along especially once her group transitioned into 3v3 play… showed the ability to play off others & doesn’t need to be ball-dominant to be successful – in fact, she was perhaps a little too unselfish at times… all-in-all, her game translates well to the next level, and I expect her to be one of the more recruited 2023s by coaches in attendance.
Macy Bacon (Canandaigua/NY Royals 2024): Some players establish themselves at young ages (middle school & perhaps even younger) and already have recognized names by their underclassman high school years. Others are late bloomers that splash on the scene as high school progresses. The “unicorn” types usually fall into the latter, and Macy checks that box as a particularly intriguing player that’s coming on in a hurry… at 6’1″, she blends an eye-catching set of face-up, stretch, and occasional back-to-basket work that is starting to bring back memories of a young Jenna Zimmerman… showed the ability to attack off a face-up and was potent when she got to her right, including some crafty finishes around the rim… made herself more noticeable as 3v3 play progressed, but it was her group’s 5v5 games where she really separated herself with athleticism & end-to-end speed at size… took frontcourt matchups to the perimeter and got by them, grabbed a couple extra layups in each game by running the floor & finishing, and she even flashed the perimeter J with a couple college threes… clearly still ‘putting it together’ and isn’t close to her basketball ceiling, but she’s more than just a ‘potential’ kid at this point – she’s producing. If we’re using the often-overused term of ‘stock risers’, Macy was one of the biggest ones in my eyes from this event.
Brianna Barr-Buday (Nichols School/XGen Elite 2024): Already a Division I offered talent, the 6’2″ forward now has offensive production to match the exceptional effort & motor, and the combo of everything made her a load to deal with… strong & physical in the post, willing to initiate & control the contact… has slowed herself down a little and is now a more controlled finisher in close range… much more comfortable stretching to the arc & attacking off the dribble, hit her defender with a stutter step & got to the rim on several occasions… also showed some extended range with a 19 footer off the catch… active on the offensive end & does a good job making herself available – and credit to her guards, they kept her very involved as the offense often ran through her during 5v5 play… ferocious on the boards, pursues the ball with a purpose, and was particularly tough on the offensive glass… one of WNY’s premier frontcourt players & showed it at this event.
Sophia Bonnell (Horseheads/Elmira Fusion 2024): Sophia already has a history of coming through EST events & torching the nets. Although she got hot during 3v3 play, she scored just 2 points during her team’s 5v5 games – and still finds herself on this list for her play… there’s something to be said about competing at a high level, doing the little things, and making winning plays in an individual showcase event… aggressive offensively during the 3v3 session & filled it up, including a handful of threes, and then went into PG mode during 5v5 while making impact in various ways that didn’t include scoring. I call it ‘The Horseheads Way’ – high compete level, energy, creating & controlling tempo, defending at a high level, putting pressure on the opponent at both ends… you could feel the positive impact she made for her team while in the game. Another nice EST event showing for Soph.
Shania Estrich (Greece Olympia/God First More Work 2024): This was the first time I had the chance to watch Shania, a local talent that established herself as a primary player at Greece Olympia during the winter, and it looks like she’s another one that specializes in first impressions… excelled against her competition at this event, not only by being the best athlete on the court, but by using that athleticism to produce… explosive athlete with quick burst off the bounce, and it was game over when she got to her right… early in the event, she was in attack mode looking to score, and by her team’s last 5v5 game, she was also showing playmaking ability with a few good finds after paint touches… Estrich also did something not consistently seen at these kinds of events & brought that same energy on D, consistently harassing ballhandlers & making opposing PGs uncomfortable… check Shania off as an under-the-radar gem with great upside in the backcourt.
Ava Gallup (Webster Schroeder/Buffalo Titans 2024): Ava, another player that I’ve seen numerous times at EST events in other areas, came through & showed major development in the first backyard event… still growing into her 5’11” frame, but the skill set has expanded, versatility has become a calling card to her game offensively, and she turned it into the all-important production & positive play here… picked it up as the event progressed, was settled in by her team’s second 5v5 game, and particularly stood out as they took the 3v3 court in the event’s final session… showed stretch 4 qualities with the ability to work some out of the mid-post and a smooth & consistent shooting stroke, knocking down at least a half-dozen midrange & perimeter Js during 3v3 alone… also played with more confidence as the night progressed & went to work against advantageous matchups when she had the opportunity… still physically developing & coming along, but the ‘process’ is right as it looks like she’s building onto her game and looking to make the right plays & reads. Whereas some players are getting close to their max at this age, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Ava continue to bloom in coming years.
Leah Thompson (Hilton/Buffalo Titans 2024): It looks like it’s been a nice spring so far for Leah, as she’s stood out as a frontcourt player that’s starting to put it all together in the couple times I’ve watched her with the Buffalo Titans group. Add this event to the list of solid performances for an up & comer out of the Rochester area that will likely be a larger factor in the 585 hoops discussion going forward… she was solid in 5v5 play, but it was her group’s 3v3 session where she dominated at times & showed the full bag on the offensive end… the 5’10” forward showed skill, craftiness, and a grasp of the fundamentals working out of the pivot post & face-up spots, finishing in a variety of ways with each hand in close range… later in 3v3 play, it was the expansion of range that took center stage with 4 threes in a condensed stretch of play… as Leah continues to physically mature and build on her frame, she’ll take the next step into being a physical force in the frontcourt. In the meantime, the foundation of fundamentally sound skill has been built, and I anticipate her being a pretty actively recruited prospect by this time next year.
Jordyn Williams (Cardinal O’Hara/XGen Elite 2024): This 6’0″ wing has seemingly limitless upside, but the fact that the ‘potential’ is turning into ‘production’ while still just scratching the surface makes her even more intriguing… one of the best basketball athletes in the gym & in my coverage region as a whole, her acceleration and bounce are second-to-none, and she’s steadily learning how to apply that at both ends in game play… tuned in on the defensive end & made impact at that end with deflections & blocks, and along with the length/athletic ability, she also possesses good timing… showed legitimate improvement on the offensive end, whether it was skill with the dribble & ability to make a move to get downhill in 1v1 situations, court vision on drives that I hadn’t seen in the past, and even a couple perimeter Js… improving rapidly and still has a great deal of room to grow in the years to come – she should be another scholarship talent coming out of the O’Hara program in a couple years.
Gabriella Brown-Sturdivant (East 2025): Gabby’s name is one I’ve heard plenty of, but I haven’t had the chance to watch her as much, so this was a good outlet to see her progression. She was without question one of the most skilled young guards at the event and showed extended flashes of it throughout the night… blends craftiness with physicality, is crafty with the dribble, and looks to get downhill… even at a young age, she understood when she had an advantageous matchup & looked to take full advantage when that was the case… finishing ability around the rim & court vision on paint touches were what caught my eye the most, especially the ability to work well with bigs on drive & dumps, P&R situations, or post entries… didn’t get to see much of the jumper because of how downhill oriented she was (and the success she had getting into the paint) – as that becomes more of a weapon, she’s on the path to becoming a complete PG on the offensive end.
Kyla Hayes (Cardinal O’Hara/XGen Elite 2025): Kyla, one of WNY’s finest up & comers and most highly regarded players already, is no stranger to EST events. However, I think this was her best showing to date… one of the younger players at the event but never showed it… consistently took advantage of different matchups, showcasing the increasingly versatile skill set to put both wings & bigs in bad spots, and she also showed that she realized when it was a matchup to attack… strong 6 footer bullied smaller opponents around the rim, carved deep position early & finished with ease, then took bigs to the perimeter & attacked off the dribble… stood out during 5v5 play, where she was one of the event’s more productive players… played with energy but also played with patience, a sign of mental development along with the physical… future Division I player that has already received offers.
Ava Sandroni (Jamesville-DeWitt/I-90 Elite 2025): Ava might be young, but I’ve been familiar with her for a couple years at this point, and she’s taking the next step forward with applying her advanced skill set in live action & is becoming a primary talent in the 2025 class because of it… strong throughout 5v5 play & stood out during her group’s 3v3 session… skilled 1v1 in the open court, and physical development has allowed her to more effectively operate in tight half-court windows as well… increasingly capable three-level scorer that has the athleticism to finish in different ways around the rim, range to the college three, and brings a potent midrange game… plays with energy & bounce in her step… has always had skill and showed signs of more, but along with the added height for a primarily on-ball player (5’8″) & physical development, more consistency in translating the skill against live defenders shows that she’s ‘figuring it out’ and developing into one of the region’s better young guards.
Gianna Washington (Liverpool/NY Royals 2025): This electric Syracuse area up & comer started the night on a tear & continued to show serious flashes as the night progressed… played with some energy & bounce in her step… crafty with the handle & shifty with movements – combines the skill with 1v1 moves and ability/willingness to effectively change speed & direction… when she got pressured, she didn’t play with it too much, quick move to get a step & got downhill from there… capable shooter in rhythm with deep range, a quick release, and the ability to hit off the catch, a rhythm dribble, or a dribble move… showed quick hands on D… generally produced in bursts, but those flashes were particularly eye-catching and more than enough to recognize her ability & why she should be a name to remember in 2025.
Bria Watkins (Webster Schroeder/I-90 Elite 2025): Bria has shown signs of coming into her own in recent months, and she put it together at times for a strong showing here… 5’11” guard with some length & athleticism that can play on or off the ball… stood out against matchups for long stretches during 5v5 play… played with confidence & was willing to attack and work in traffic… got to the line more than pretty much anyone… showed the midrange game with a pull-up going to her left off the dribble… future Division I player that just picked up her first offer.
I wasn’t kidding when I said this was the most balanced EST event to date. Many players beyond those listed above had their moments or made a positive impression. A few more that stuck out at various times with their play:
- Natalee Collins (Waterville/Twin Tier Elite 2023)
- Bella Franchi (Colonie/NY Havoc 2023)
- Ava Pearson (Colonie/NY Havoc 2023)
- Hannah VanDerzee (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk/NY Havoc 2023)
- Kyleigh Chapman (Canandaigua/NY Royals 2024)
- Ellie Clearwater (Elmira/Elmira Fusion 2024)
- Sydney Delisle (Shenendehowa/NY Havoc 2024)
- Emily Dingmon (Corinth/Elevate NYBC 2024)
- Makana Gardner (Newark Valley/Elmira Fusion 2024)
- Ella Gennoy (Saratoga Springs/Elevate NYBC 2024)
- Kendall Mack (Cortland/Twin Tier Elite 2024)
- Victoria Russo (Shaker/NY Havoc 2024)
- Marisa Smith (Johnson City/NY Royals 2024)
- Mariah Watkins (Webster Schroeder/I-90 Elite 2024)
- Klarissa Goode (Bishop Kearney/I-90 Elite 2025)
- Mallory Heise (Hilton/XGen Elite 2025)
- Amaia Jackson (Bishop Kearney/XGen Elite 2025)
- Calie Klassen (Canton 2025)
- Grace Villnave (Cicero-North Syracuse/I-90 Elite 2025)