Whether I’ve had the opportunity to watch a player a couple times or a hundred, everyone started with a ‘first look’ at some point.
Most of them, however, didn’t come at an EST event.
Out of the Fall Showcase’s 92 participants, 40 of them were EST event first-timers – a higher-than-usual percentage. I was familiar with the majority of them, having seen most play in high school, AAU, or other settings of basketball. However, as is always the case, some had somewhat slipped through the cracks to this point. There were some players that were truly newer faces to me, primarily out of the event’s backyard of northeast Pennsylvania (particularly young talent out of the Wyoming Valley Clutch club), and many of those players made impressive first impressions. A list of some of those players that I’ll be tracking closely going forward after strong performances at Riverfront:
Eternity Aiken (Wilkes-Barre Area (PA)/Wyoming Valley Clutch 2023): As is often the case at fall events, representation from seniors was sparse, and nearly half of them that came through are already committed to schools. That automatically brings more eyes & attention to an uncommitted 2023 like Eternity, and she took advantage by showing well in her environment. The forward is listed at 5’9″ but plays more like a 6 footer around the rim with her strength & raw athleticism. She was comfortable working in close range offensively but also showed ability not just to face up & attack, but she also stretched to the arc and hit a couple threes. It was also notable how her impact remained consistently positive for the duration of the event & level of play was also consistently solid. Between flashes of an intriguing skill set and natural physical tools that can be refined at the collegiate level, Eternity displayed as a sneaky good prospect that could experience continued growth for years to come.
Anne Kiernan (Sacred Heart Academy/Long Island Lightning 2024): This wasn’t my first time seeing Kiernan play, but it was the first time I could get a more detailed observation in the confines of an event. Verdict? A lot to like. Annie possesses a blend of size, skill, and functional versatility that will undoubtedly make collegiate coaching staffs open their eyes & pay attention. As a 6 footer with a strong basketball build, she immediately showed ability to take advantage of different matchups offensively. She banged around the rim when the time was right, and she also showed comfort facing up & attacking off the bounce. On a couple occasions, she squared up from the arc and showed the range with a couple 20 footers. She was particularly strong in 3v3 play, where she got some more touches & had more opportunity to show the full range of her skill set on the offensive end. Time will tell as far as development & potential level of recruitment goes, but at first real evaluation, if I’m at a D2 school & potentially in the market for a forward in 2024, I’m getting familiar with Annie sooner rather than later.
Emma Krawczeniuk (Wilkes-Barre Area (PA)/Wyoming Valley Clutch 2024): Sometimes, you can just tell. There was something about Emma from the second she walked in the gym & said her name at check-in that made me think she was going to bring the heat. When you know, you know. Krawczeniuk got right to business from the first 3v3 rotation and was another one of the more consistently solid contributors during the morning session. A 5’5″ guard with a 6’5″ aura, she carries herself like a hooper & possessed the kind of court presence that drew eyes to her with the ball in her hands. She showed a pretty complete scoring package over the course of the event, especially in the open spaces of 3v3. She scored at three levels throughout the day, and I was particularly impressed with the comfort & purity of the midrange J. Emma did a good job creating for herself off the bounce, getting to spots, and rising up over the top with some lift on the jumper. As the session progressed and 5v5 play wore on, she transitioned from playing in attack mode from a scoring standpoint to showing ability & willingness to use her juice off the dribble to create for others. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Emma emerge as one of the 570’s better backcourt players this winter, and she checks many boxes of a player that’ll be actively recruited at the collegiate level.
Maya Jenkins (Scranton Prep (PA)/Keystone Karma 2025): There are other things I guess you should just know. When someone comes in from Scranton Prep, it has to almost be a guarantee that they know how to play. Maya represented the homeland well in her first EST event with a particularly strong performance, and she was one of my favorite players to watch within her environment. She showed comfort both on & off the ball and has good size at the point at 5’7″, and even on game film – an outlet where things like ‘court presence’ can easily get lost – you could feel it through the screen. She had one of the best showings of the entire day in 3v3 play, where she showed all facets of a relatively complete & refined scoring skill set. When given space, she buried a handful of perimeter Js. When the defense played up, she got busy off the bounce, showing some creativity with the dribble, ability to change speeds, and soft touch around the rim & with the floater game. That creativity off the bounce & confidence in her game carried into 5v5, but she took more of a ‘PG with floor game’ role and turned into more of a distributor for teammates. Big fan of Maya’s game, and I’m sure I’ll be seeing her plenty more in the near future.
Claire McGrath (Scranton Prep (PA)/Keystone Karma 2025): So about that Scranton Prep thing… keeping it on Wyoming Ave. for Claire, another young breakout performer in the opening session. Like Maya above, Claire was sensational in 3v3 play, where she set the tone at her basket & impacted play in many ways. The 5’8″ guard is a capable shooter with a smooth stroke & high enough release point to not be bothered by defenders approaching her airspace. She showed comfort with deep range & the ability to take 1-2 dribbles and tap into the midrange game as well. In the 3v3 setting, I was impressed with how well she operated out of the midpost – squaring up 15-18′ from the rim & working from there – a useful part of the package for a guard with her tools & general athleticism. Claire also showed decent feel & understanding of the game, played with great energy, competed on the defensive end, and seemed to have her hands in almost everything, something that carried over well to 5v5 play as her activity level & ability to pick her spots offensively allowed her to be a bright spot for her team. Bright future for this 570 up & comer.
Sophia Shults (Hazleton Area (PA)/Wyoming Valley Clutch 2025): I’ve always been a fan of players that can present as difficult or unorthodox matchups for opposing teams, and Sophia showed qualities that fit the bill in this event’s morning session. She’s a southpaw that’s listed at 5’8″ but has the athleticism & strength to ‘play bigger’, and she has sort of a tweener’s skill set now that caused problems for various matchups. Shults showed comfort facing up on anyone and took advantage of forwards off the dribble with a deceptively quick first step. When given time & space, she also flashed the perimeter jumper with a couple made threes. She played with energy & was conssitently active around the rim, which paid dividends in 5v5 play with numerous trips to the free throw line. Sophia already brings many positive qualities to work with and there’s considerable potential for growth. As she refines her skill set – adds a little more to her package off the dribble, quickens the release of her jumper, etc. – she could become a real problem as her high school years roll on.
Diamond Thornton (Wilkes-Barre Area (PA)/Wyoming Valley Clutch 2025): Keeping it in the morning session, the Wyoming Valley Clutch club, and one more from Wilkes-Barre – Diamond came through & showed well with bursts of standout play. Her strongest stretches were in the middle stages of the event as she was able to work in a rhythm, and she had moments of dominance in those rotations. She has nice size at the point at 5’8″ and showcased as a strong athlete with the ability to create both in transition and in 1v1 situations in the half-court. She was particularly tough to stop when she got to her right hand, showing some explosiveness & high-level finishing ability. When defenses started playing the drive, she started showing the jumper, knocking down a handful off the catch & off the bounce, including an eye-catching stepback trey in 3v3 where she sent her defender running. Her ability to create in tight windows after hitting the paint was among the best at the event, and I also enjoyed how she carried herself & interacted as a teammate here. If we’re talking first impressions, you couldn’t do much better than what Diamond did here.
Keira Dougherty (Crestwood (PA)/Wyoming Valley Clutch 2026): The first part of the first impression at the fall event comes in 3v3 play, which is what they open up with (and what I open my game film evaluation with). Keira wasted no time in making sure it was known she was a force to be reckoned with, displaying as one of the most potent scorers within their environment on the entire day. She’s on the smaller end at this stage at 5’5″, but skill, confidence, and depth of the toolbox more than made up for any time she gave up a couple inches. She showed that advanced skill from her first few touches in the form of ability to create & willingness to attack 1v1. When she turned the corner, she finished at the rim consistently with either hand including some high-level finishes with extension and touch off the glass. When playing in space, she changed directions well with the spin. As a young player, it takes her an extra split-second to let the perimeter J go at this stage, but she shoots it well with time & mechanics are sound – as she gets stronger & doesn’t have to load it up, I anticipate Keira being a knockdown shooter that can get it off with pace. She didn’t score as much in 5v5, but she picked it up in other aspects such as activity & energy on the defensive end. Keep Keira’s name in mind going forward, as she looks like one of the brighter talents in the next wave of players out of the 570.
Alexis Reimold (Hazleton (PA)/Wyoming Valley Clutch 2026): If we’re talking upside & how a skill set can translate to higher/future levels, few young players showed more promise than Alexis, who was a key takeaway from the event’s afternoon session. The 5’7″ guard was consistently strong within her environment and showed the sort of utility impact that can make her an asset on any court. She’s an above average & very fluid athlete that showed all facets of a complete wing skill set. She moves off the ball particularly well, a very valuable trait as time goes on. When the defender’s head turned, she was gone, which turned into numerous easy ones. She also showed the footwork & dexterity to catch & finish in various ways on the move and with either hand. When given space, she showed shooting ability with range beyond the college line. For as good as she was in 3v3, it was 5v5 play where she really let loose & let her 94×50 athleticism do more of the talking. She ran the floor well in transition, advanced it quickly with the dribble, showed burst going either way but particularly with the right, and got off the floor well to finish over the top at the rim. Skill, athleticism, feel for the game that all translate going forward. I’ll be very interested in seeing Alexis’ progression in coming months & years.
Molly Walsh (Dallas (PA)/Wyoming Valley Clutch 2026): Speaking of people with translatable qualities that I became immediately intrigued by… hello, Molly Walsh. Her introduction felt more like a shot of caffeine. The 5’8″ wing doesn’t physically look like a 2026 or carry herself like a youngster either – great basketball frame, exceptional basketball athlete with speed, acceleration, strength, and bounce. Similar to Alexis above, she stood out within her environment for nearly the entirety of the event. She got herself settled in by using the athleticism to dominate the offensive glass in her opening rotations. After getting those early touches & putbacks, the rest of her game opened up on the offensive end. She’s a righty, but she showed plenty of comfort attacking left & finishing high at the rim. In the later stages of 3v3, it felt like she was getting where she wanted whenever she wanted and lived in the paint. Players that show a lot of that in 3v3 sometimes taper off in the tighter spaces of 5v5 play, but Molly was just as strong in the 94×50 setting, still showcasing as the best athlete on the court while also flashing the midrange & perimeter J off the catch. On the few occasions that the defense collapsed and took away a driving lane, she played with patience and found the open teammate. My notes on Molly generally revolve around her dominance & ability to pick defenses apart, which I’d say is a good first impression. Great deal of upside. If she keeps the ball in her hands, embraces the process of gradual development, and refines the skill package, there’s no doubt she could be one of the 570’s finest within the next couple years.