Lebanon, Mo. — The first SWMOBasketball Future50 Camp & Showcase brought some of the best talent in the Ozarks to Lebanon, pitting the players head-to-head in a skills and drills portion and players then competed in 5-on-5 scrimmages, allowing players to show their full game. Here are some of the observations I made throughout the day, broken down by category.
The Blue Team was full of experienced players, names we’ve been seeing around the Ozarks for years. After having one of the best seasons in the Ozarks as a junior, Twilah Carrasquillo (pictured out front) proved that she’s more than just a small-school hooper. Carrasquillo got to the rim and flashed an improved and perimeter jumper. She’s a high IQ player and also showed a competitive spirit and willingness to defend and rebound. She averaged 26.9 points and 11.7 rebounds for Verona this season. Speaking of scoring the basketball, Pleasant Hope junior Faith Francka had some of the best footwork of the day, always catching shot ready. Francka’s jumper is money and her shot gets off quickly and with range. She may have been the best catch-and-shoot kid of the day. Mansfield’s Karsyn Brooke has been one of the area’s top rebounders for years and that’s exactly what she did Sunday, relentlessly pursuing the ball. Her other skills continue to develop, but she rebounds at an elite level. Madi Sutt was one of the day’s most impressive players. She averaged 20 and 10 for Class 1 Wheatland, but what she does better than most is put pressure on opposing defenses. She gets fouled all the time and does mind the contact or finishing through it. She can post or step out on the perimeter, which makes her a valuable asset. Dasia Pence was one of the funniest campers, but there’s nothing funny about her game. She can defend multiple positions, but she also has the ability to relentlessly get into the teeth of the defense and find teammates for scores. Her frame makes it difficult to both stay in front of her and not get bullied. Very intriguing prospect. Rachel Senn is yet another 6-foot-1 Kickapoo forward that is extremely long and athletic. She runs the floor well and rim protects. Again, there will be D-1s sniffing around Kickapoo practices over the next few years.
Connor Hicks hit the jackpot with this group, thanks to a ton of versatility. Naudi Evans earned Co-MVP honors and was dominant throughout the day. She gets it done on both ends of the floor. Evans is electric off the dribble and can score at all three levels. Waynesville teammate Victoria Perry (2019) was relentless attacking the rim. She’s a strong, explosive athlete that is difficult to defend and she has no problem bullying smaller defenders off the dribble. Carl Junction 2020 Katie Scott proved exactly why she was all-state and led Carl Junction to the Final Four. She had one of the most diverse games of anyone in attendance, with the ability to score inside-out, facilitate, rebound and rim protect. She’s unguardable and has no problem taking advantage of favorable matchups. She’s likely going to be the COC Player of the Year for the next two years and should’ve won it this season. Kenzie Hobbs (Blue Eye-2019) is another guard that fits well into dribble-drive offense. She can attack of the dribble, but she also had tremendous footwork getting into catch and shoot opportunities. Hobbs also pressures the ball extremely well and it’s afraid of a challenge. She’s the epitome of a SWMO point guard. One of my favorite guards of the day was Skyline 2019 Autumn Garrett. She was another scorer on a team full of them, so she had to pick her spots to be aggressive, but she lives in the paint. Garrett is explosive off the bounce and the only way to stop her was to foul her. You can see she’s been drilled fundamentally and still has that Skyline grit to her game. I didn’t know much about Kamari Ouck coming into the camp, but she made an impression after her day of games. She’s a 5-foot-9 guard, but her length allows her to defend essentially 1-5 and she has athleticism to boot. She’s still working on her perimeter jumper, but she has a quick first step and good footwork around the rim.
The Iron Grey Team didn’t have a ton of size, but it really didn’t matter because of how great the guard play was. Led by a quartet of 2019 prospects — Julie Stone (Thayer), Courtney Austin (Buffalo), Hailey Meeks (West Plains) and Ayshia Bettlach (Blue Eye) — Grey had no problem pushing the ball in transition and willingly making the extra pass. Stone was the SCA Player of the Year for the second consecutive season and showed why throughout Sunday, displaying excellent footwork and the ability to get to the rim as well as shoot the basketball. She’d be a star regardless of the size of school she went to. Austin came in with a reputation as a big-time scorer (1,282 points in three seasons) and that showed Sunday. The 5-foot-7 guard also showed that she can facilitate, often attacking off the dribble and creating offense. Bettlach shared a backcourt with fellow 2019 guards Kohnnar Patton and Taylor Arnold at Blue Eye but proved that the Lady Bulldogs clearly have an abundance of depth. She’s great at getting into seems, attacking solely for the purpose of creating a shot for someone else. She can also catch and shoot it herself and is a solid on-ball defender. Meeks is the ultimate glue player; somehow, she’s always around the ball. She can defend 1-5, shoots it well and has a motor that is unmatched. The kid even had to be told to stop taking charges because the refs (coaches) weren’t good enough to make the call. She’s yet the latest skilled player that Scott Womack has produced at West Plains. The future of basketball in the area was also on full display with 2021s Maddie Barrett and Makaiya Brooks showing limitless potential. Barrett, a 6-foot-1 post, helped Kickapoo advance to the Class 5 Final Four. She has Division One-caliber length and athleticism, excelling in her ability to block shots and rebound. But, you can also see the development in her footwork and shooting touch. Going through drills she didn’t move like a big. Brooks was the Co-MVP of the event, dominating the day in every facet of the game.
The Green Team was one of the youngest collectively but wasn’t short on talent or potential. It all starts with 2020 Licking PG Karlee Holland who is a do-all player. She excelled in all of the individual development drills, quickly picking up any new concepts, but then she went to work in the scrimmages. She’s excellent in transition and shoots it really well. Several times she facilitated offense for others and then turned around and picked up a steal defensively. She’s yet another potential megastar in the class. Emily Rice is a name that’s been on many radars over the last several years at Buffalo. The 2019 guard is a 3-year starter that’s already approaching 1,000 career points. She put that ability to shoot the ball on display and has one of those jumpers that makes you think its going in every time it leaves her hand. Speaking of shooters, 2020 Monett guard Kaesha George might start going back the nickname of “Cash” because of how well she shoots it. You can see she’s been well coached and her jumpers come with 10 toes at the rim and on balance. She shot it well in drills and knocked down some more jumpers during the scrimmage period. Again, when it leaves her hand it looks good. She also has an understanding of taking advantage of poor close outs. She has a bright future. Teammate and 2019 Monett guard Alyssa Williams played a different game, attacking off the dribble and mixing it up defensively. Williams game screams Big 8 because of the edge she plays with. Macy Hayes (Crane-2019) and Darby Roam (Camdenton-2019) are a pair of junior guards that both competed well on both ends. Hayes has a frame that allows her to have defensive versatility, but she also plays with a ton of energy. Scarlett Texeira (Forsyth-2021) was one of the youngest players at the camp, but the 6-foot-1 forward has some great tools to work with. She lived on the offensive glass and also showed the ability to knock down perimeter jumpers. Her potential has a stretch-4 is limitless and scary. One of the most intriguing players at the camp was fellow 2021 prospect Shelby Coursey (Thayer). She looked the part in drills, appearing like a guard trapped in a 6-foot-1 frame and excelling on both ends of the floor. Her elite length and versatility make her a player to keep an eye on moving forward.