Samuelson sisters grab top Nike TOC honors
There is a reason the Nike Tournament of Champions is the place to be in December. The stars came out to play, and some of the top high schools made their case to be named the nation's best. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), ranked No. 12 in the espnW 25 Power Rankings, won the top bracket with a 96-74 victory over No. 2 Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) in the final and a 57-54 win over No. 1 St. Mary’s (Phoenix) in the semifinals. It was an action-packed weekend featuring skill, will and determination. Here’s the espnW HoopGurlz Nike Tournament of Champions All-Tournament Team.
Co-MVP Karlie Samuelson, 2013 (Mater Dei/Santa Ana, Calif): The Stanford-bound combo guard can shoot the 3 ball with consistency, which helped lift her team to the crown. Her spin moves with her left hand were jaw-dropping, and the quick release on her jump shot was head-turning. Karlie shot an amazing 70 percent from behind the 3-point line in the final, and finished with 37 points and 11 rebounds. She not only took home the coveted Nike TOC title but shared the MVP with her sister, Katie Lou. Clearly, skills and drills run in this family.
Co-MVP Katie Lou Samuelson, 2015 (Mater Dei/Santa Ana Calif.): This undeclared sophomore is Larry Bird meets Dirk Nowitzki. She is the total package. Playing on the wing, she can score the 3, put it on the floor, pass when needed and finish while withstanding contact down low. In Mater Dei’s opener, an 89-67 win over Ossining (N.Y.), she put up 34 points to set the bar pretty high and show why she is one of the top prospects in the 2015 class. Katie Lou added 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the championship game and put on a shooting clinic with her sister. Every time she touched the ball something awesome happened, like scoring 18 in the third quarter alone. This young talent is going to be a joy to watch for years to come.
Chantel Osahor, 2013 (St Mary's/Phoenix Ariz.): The Washington-bound post player is Magic Johnson-like passing in the paint. She has great size and can dribble the ball better than most guards. Her court vision is out of this world. She makes everyone around her look good and herself great. She can shoot the 3 and post up if needed. Her inside-out game is what is most impressive about her.
Jordan Reynolds, 2013 (Central Catholic/Portland, Ore.): This 5-foot-11 Tennessee-bound guard is a lean, strong player who can take you off the dribble and finish at the rim. Her pull-up game is what makes her so special. Reynolds is a slick, slashing guard who can also defend. She can run the point if needed, but is much more successful if you let her play the off guard.
Jordin Canada, 2014 (Windward School/Windward, Calif.): When you think of exciting, fun players who take over a game, you have to think of Canada. The Chris Paul-type guard can run the offense when needed and score at the basket with ease. The undeclared junior is super athletic, can hang in the air and finish with contact. She is able to stop on the dime and make a crisp pass to the open player. She helped lead her team to the championship of their bracket.
Kelsey Plum, 2013 (Country Day/La Jolla, Calif.): This Sue Bird/Lindsay Whalen-type guard continues to be a leader on the floor for Country Day. Her game is well-rounded. She can shoot the 3, get to the basket and constantly make things happen. Plum is headed to Washington, along with fellow TOC all-tournament player Chantel Osahor, making them a pair that will be fun to watch in the Pac-12. She can fill up the basket in bunches, tallying 82 points in three games and plays hard every time she is on the court.
Gabby Green, 2014 (St. Mary's/Berkeley, Calif.):This undeclared 6-2 guard can put it on the floor, take it off the dribble, explode to the basket and block shots when needed. Green is fun to watch, running the floor like she owns it. She just gets it done. Green hit the game-winning shot after having a rough shooting night to lead her team to the Joe Smith Division title.
Oderah Chidom, 2013 (Bishop O'Dowd/Oakland Calif.): The 6-3 Chidom can put it on the floor when needed and also has a great turn-around shot in the post. This wing/forward is long and athletic with a shooter’s touch. Chidom, who is heading to Duke, can guard a smaller player and has the skill set to take the mid-range shot through tough competition. She can pass and get the ball to right person in the open court and is long enough to block any running jump shot as well as finish at the rim on offense. She has the smarts and know-how of a standout player.
Courtney Ekmark, 2014 (St. Mary's/Phoenix Ariz.): At 6-foot, she is a long, deadly sharp shooter. The junior guard cannot be left open, and if you take away her outside shot, she still finds ways to score. Connecticut and Geno Auriemma are sure to use her ability to come off screens and knock down the jumper. She is a constant threat.
Chloe Jackson, 2014 (Riverdale Baptist/Upper Marlboro, Md.): The undeclared junior guard seemed primed to propel her team to the championship early in the tournament as she ran the floor and scored with precision. She constantly stayed on the attack, knocking down the 3 ball and attacking the basket with her floater. Despite coming up short against Mater Dei, Jackson scored 27 points in the final.