Stars of Nike Nationals
Shawna-Lei Kuehu
Shawna-Lei Kuehu
HoopGurlz.com
Posted Aug 2, 2006


The first in our series of Nike Nationals all-tournament teams, as chosen by HoopGurlz.com. We start with our MVP and first-team selections.


PHOTOS BY GLENN NELSON

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. - She was too bulked up. Her legs were tired, she was playing too much in too short a time. The whispers had been with Maya Moore throughout the spring and most of the summer. And the whispers grew in volume with each missed shot.

What was wrong with Maya, we all asked.


Maya Moore shoots over two Flight defenders
Each other, that is. We'd forgotten the golden rule for preventing the spread of disinformation: Ask the source. So, almost when it was too late, I did.

Turns out nothing was wrong with Maya. She'd had a couple of big scoring games at U.S. Junior Nationals in Washington, D.C., "just to show people I could still shoot," she explained the other day. That same day, I'd asked Moore and her Georgia Metros coach, Kathy Richie-Walton, what had happened to Moore's shot.

"She's just not focusing on her shot right now," Richie-Walton had replied, addding, "We haven't been asking her to score lately."

"Could you?" I asked. "Just so I can know?"

Richie-Walton walked away, only to return two days later. Moore had just scored 42 points against The Family in the Nike Nationals semifinals.

"We asked her to score a little," Richie-Walton said, a glint in her eye. "Now you know."

Now we all know. The kid is special. A scorer deluxe last summer, Moore remade herself into a defensive stopper this summer. Next, she wants to become a better ballhandler. This is the stuff of greatness. And why HoopGurlz.com names her the Most Valuable Player of the summer's most prestigious tournament.


Maya Moore's thigh bruise required portable
electro-stim treatment
Not just for the 42 points against Indiana's The Family, but for her equally dominating nine points in pool play against All-Ohio. For her deliberate, cool-as-popcicles dash to the bucket and pullup, through-the-heart-of-the-hoop shot at the buzzer during the tourney championship game against the Tennessee Flight. And for the fact that she gutted out the final games of bracket play with a deep bruise on her left thigh on which she used an electro-stim machine for relief.

Over a year ago, before Maya Moore was the household name (OK, households where someone plays elite-level girl's hoops) she is today, we'd put her at the top of the list of 2007 prospects, mostly because of her unparalled length, athleticism and focus. During the 2005 End of the Trail championship, when she willed in three-pointers, outran guards half her size and gobbled every loose ball and rebound to nearly take down an otherworldly Boo Williams team, we saw that focus came from determination and competitiveness that we'd rarely - if ever - glimpsed in the girl's game.

We saw it again at the Nike Tournament of Champions last December, when she scored 38 points for Collins Hill High School and nearly single-handedly took down the defending national champions, Christ the King, in the tournament championship game.

By then, Moore's jumpers found their mark too frequently to claim, as many did, that her form was flawed. Some athletes just defy analysis. You wouldn't, for example, teach kids to splay their legs on pullup jumpers the way Michael Jordan did, would you? What Moore does is make her teams win. What she has is the It Factor that separates the basketball goddesses from the mere mortals.

- Glenn Nelson


The rest of our all-tournament first team for Nike Nationals (our second through fourth teams will be posted later this week):


(CLICK ON NAMES FOR PROFILES)



Sylar Diggins
Sylar Diggins
5-9 guard, 2009
The Family


The Lowdown: A perennial power, The Family is a team you seek to check out the likes of Ta'Shia Phillips, one of the nation's top post prospects, or Rebecca Gray, the sharp-shooting North Carolina commit. Not this week. The last tournament of summer belonged to a rising sophomore guard. Diggins was her team's leading scorer in its last three pool games, then hit 20 in the quarterfinals and it took Maya Moore's 42 to overshadow her 27 points in the semifinals. Along the way, Diggins revealed herself to be one of the nation's leading long-distrance shooters, as well as one of the quickest transporters of the basketball.



Iasia Hemingway
Iasia Hemingway
5-11 guard, 2007
NYC Gauchos


The Lowdown: No other way to say it, she's just a scoring machine. In Charles Barkley-esque fashion, Hemingway led the tournament in scoring and rebounds through pool play, is strong and explosive, as likely to shoot over as she migh shoot through her defenders. She has very quick, compact moves off the dribble, wasting very little motion and, obviously, very few opportunities. Make no mistake, she's not just an inside scorer, penetrator and offensive-glass cleaner. Hemingway also has a very solid stroke from mid-range back to the three-point line. If stunted by defenses, she also sees the floor well enough to punish with dish-offs.




Glenn Nelson is the publisher of HoopGurlz.com and the editor-in-chief of Scout Media (www.Scout.com), an online sports network and magazine-publishing company and subsidiary of Fox Interactive Media. Glenn also founded and coached the Dragons and Northwest HoopGurlz select girls basketball teams. He previously was a longtime, national-award-winning basketball columnist and writer for The Seattle Times. His work also has appeared in several national magazines and books. He is co-author of "Rising Stars: The Ten Best Players in the NBA" (Rosen Publishing, 2002). He can be reached at hoopgurlz@comcast.net.



Chris Hansen is the National Director of Scouting for Women's Basketball at HoopGurlz.com and Scout.com. Chris leads the panel that evaluates and ranks girl's basketball prospects nationally for HoopGurlz, Scout.com and Full Court Press (www.FullCourt.com). Chris has been involved in the women’s basketball community since 1998 as a coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. He can be reached at chansen@scout.com.




Related Stories
Determination Wins Nike
 -by HSGirlsHoops.com  Aug 1, 2006
Nike Nationals III
 -by HSGirlsHoops.com  Jul 30, 2006
Nike Nationals II
 -by HSGirlsHoops.com  Jul 30, 2006

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G Cetera DeGraffenreid (profile)
G Skylar Diggins (profile)
C Ayana Dunning (profile)
G Iasia Hemingway (profile)
G Shawna-Lei Kuehu (profile)
F Maya Moore (profile)
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