Youth Is Served In The Midwest......

Our travels took us to the midwest, specifically Calumet Park, Illinois. This is a suburb of Chicago, and their motto is "The Place To Be", and this was definitely the place to be!

This was a youth tournament hosted by Xaver Walton and his Illinois X-citement program, consisting of 5th thru 8th grade teams.

There was a plethora of talent over the weekend, below are some of the "gems":

2022 Angelica Bafia (Homer Glen, IL) - Lady Huskies - This was a kid that was a joy to watch play! She gives 110%, doesn't back down from physical play, can shoot the 3 ball, also made fundamental plays out of pick and rolls either finishing for herself or finding teammates for easy baskets. She isn't the most athletic kid, but she makes up for it with intense effort and a high IQ.

2024 Janyla Bush (St. Louis, MO) - St. Louis Eagles - A super quick guard, outstanding change of direction and change of speed, demonstrated the ability to knock down the perimeter shot off the catch and the bounce, and a highly effective defender. She has a high motor!

2025 Nevaeh Caffey (Warrenton, MO) - St. Louis Eagles - This kid is so smooth. A fluid offensive player who plays the game calmly, makes good decisions, can makes plays off the dribble or bury you from the outside. Looking forward to following her progress.

2022 Taylor Charles (Oswego, IL) - The Truth - She plays for The Truth and is THE TRUTH! She is a inside/outside threat. She scored with her back to the basket, she faced up fluidly and knocked down the short corer jumper, and she did  aa lot of work from the high post area, where she caught the ball, faced up, shot fake and attacked off the dribble to finish. She was aggressive on the glass and protective the paint! Her size, good hands, mobility and assertiveness makes her a high level prospect.

2023 Taylor Curry (Aurora, IL) X-Citement - Taylor is such a unique player. She plays better and more consistent when she played up. She takes what the defense gives her. If the defense is off, she draines the jumper, but press up on her and she is decisive enough to make you pay with definitive drives and finishes. She is a awesome defender, a true competitor!

2023 Shannon Dowell (Fairview Heights, IL) - St. Louis Eagles - This kid is a true sleeper! Her composure, her IQ, and overall smooth game caught my eye. She was one of the few kids who knocked down midrange shots, fundamentally sound defensively on & off the ball, and mixed it up for rebounds. A nice wing player!

2022 Faith Feuerbach (Sycamore, IL) - The Truth - A cerebral player who displayed a lot of hustle, really sees plays developing quickly, and can flat out shoot the rock. Her range and quick release is better than most! Sniper Alert!

2024 Shamya Grissom (St. Louis, MO) - St. Louis Eagles - A phenomenal athlete who competes hard on both end. Her effort and tenacity is extremely high. At this point her success is her mostly based on her athleticism and sheer determination. Right now that makes her very effective, but as she gets older she will need to improve her overall perimeter skills.

2024 Ella Guerrero (Collinsville, IL) - St. Louis Eagles - A solid point guard with excellent handles, plays under control. exhibited a nice floater and the ability to create for teammates.

2024 Talia Harris (Noblesville, IN) - X-Citement - One of my favorite players. She plays with a demeanor and composure that is calm and businesslike. A smooth lefty who is a special defender. A complete guard. Theres not much she can't do. She is patient, skilled and demonstrated a much more controlled & improved handle! She is a true two-way player!

2023 Ayanna Jackson - (Chicago, IL) - X-Citement - Once the kid is older and has total control of her body, then it will be a wrap. Extremely long, what seems like tireless energy, blocks shots, rebounds, and is a presence all over the court! She is non-stop! She has a nose for the ball, great size, athleticism and very effective from the intermediate area and in.

2025 Destiny Jackson - (Chicago, IL) - X-Citement - This is the little sparkplug right here. A speedy guard who is relentless on both ends! She can really handle the rock! I love the way she weaves in and out of traffic to make plays!

2024 Elise Jaeger (Norwalk, IA) - Lady Select 360 - Appears to be close to  5'10" - 5'11", extremely long arms, and very versatile. She is so efficient. Shoots a good percentage and scores from any of the 3 levels offensively. She does a excellent job of using her body to shield off pesky defenders, her vision and timely passing is high level, and is very deceptive with her hesitation and long stride that she uses to get by the defense. She rebounds well and just seems to be in the right place, at the right time, all the time!  A pleasure to watch.

2023 Skylar Jones (Chicago, IL) - Powerhouse - An attacking lefty who is a tenacious defender, good athleticism, a tremendous first step off the bounce, and is relentless. If she starts knocking down the deep ball, then the sky is the limit.

2024 Arrielle Lawrence (Cahokia, IL) - St. Louis Phenom - One of the best athletes in the entire event. A explosive and quick athlete who primarily is a slashing wing! She is a instant problem when she grabs a defensive rebound and is off to the races! Her speed & quickness is a problem at this level. Her size, instincts and toughness is undeniable! If she develops definitive range on her jumper then the sky is the limit. And to think that she has played organized basketball for just under a year.

2026 Jenica Raine Lewis (Grimes, IA) - Lady Select 360 - This kid is a complete player. Excellent handles, good vision, range on the jumper, fundamentally sound defensively on and off ball, and is mentally tough, which she showed as a couple of teams played her aggressively with a Box And 1 defense. She kept her composure and let the game come to her, which is remarkable for such a young player who competed two grade levels up. The future is extremely bright for her.

2024 Kendall McDaniels (Norwalk, IA) - Lady Select 360 - Standing close to 6'0" with a wide frame, strong hands, and is lite on her feet. She has fundamental moves in the post, finishes with either hand, handles the ball well enough in space to relieve pressure, displayed a nice touch on from the intermediate area, and she dominated the boards.

2025 Kiyiko Proctor (St. Louis, MO) - St. Louis Eagles - A athletic and speedy floor general who understands offensive concepts and angles at an early age. She has a advanced handled, gets her head up quick to find streaking teammates, scores from distance and gets to the paint, but is a tenacious defender as well. She is a coach on the floor. I will maintain a close eye on her in the future to check her development over the next few years.

2022 Payton Rangel (South Bend, IN) - South Bend Elite - A strong good playmaking guard, with a quick trigger from deep, slick handles, she can shoot off the catch and off the dribble. She occasionally gets too deep in the lane which causes some turnovers, but overall she is a solid point guard.

2024 - Camryn Smith (Overland, KS) - KC Gold Elite - A highly competitive, intense and active guard with good size. Rebounds well, stays on the attack offensively, challenges ball handlers defensively, stays heavily involved on both sides of the ball. A slasher who scores well off the bounce.

2023 - Brooklyn Rhodes (Overland, MO) - St. Louis Phenom - Appearing to be close to 5'10 - 5'11", with great hands, a tremendous feel for the game, excellent vision demonstrated with her countless touch passes to teammates for easy buckets, while still in the air retrieving offensive rebounds. She primarily operated 18 feet and in, but did it with efficiency! A high level player with a good frame and good overall skills!

2024 - Xamiya Walton (Chicago, IL) - X-Citement - A born leader vocally and by example. She has played up multiple grades for a couple years now. Mostly known as a shooter from way downtown, now she is able to create and make plays off the bounce! Her shot preparation is quick and compact, allowing her to get her shot off quicker over older and bigger defenders! She has made exponential progress overall over the past year!

This is just SOME of the kids! We couldn't chosen to write on 10 to 20 more kids. Many of these teams are loaded! It was a joy and honor to be able to see these talented players live.