Action at this weekend's Purdue Team Camp heated up on Sunday afternoon in a pair of close games in Mackey.
At 2:00pm, Miamisburg (OH) matched up against Saginaw Arthur Hill (MI). Miamisburg was powered by 5'9 point guard Brittany Wells who impressed many in the crowd. The game came down to the final seconds, when Wells was fouled on a drive with 3.1 remaining. She hit both freethrows to seal the 33-31 win.
Wells, who will be a senior next season at Miamisburg, is an athletic step up from her teammates. When she is in, the game gets more serious. She functioned as the primary ballhandler, one that would make it hard for fullcourt pressure to develop. The long-armed righty pushes the tempo of the game. She whips the ball around on the pass, and is very deceptive with her distribution of the ball. It's good to see players have the amount of zip she has playing in her third game of the day on the last day of a three-day camp. Created a little havoc by driving past her defender in the open court consistently, drawing the defending forwards up out of the paint as she approached, and then dishing to her open teammates once she hit the freethrow line. Very effective against a team that literally had 15 girls on their bench. Very quick first step, breakaway speed in the open court, and exceptional at reversing the ball in the blink of an eye.
At 3:00pm was the main event in Mackey, as defending 3A state champ Brebeuf came up against East Chicago Central. The two teams were down many regular players, but each had six to eight players dressed for the game. Brebeuf was hit hard by the absence of several starters which left them weak at guard, something that was not lost on EC Central. Anchoring Brebeuf was 6'4 Purdue recruit Ta'Shia Phillips, who stood a good six inches above EC Central's tallest players.
EC Central drew first blood on a quick layup off the tip at center court. Brebeuf quickly went in to Phillips, who scored Brebeuf's first six points -- all with her back to the basket taking inlet passes, spinning to her right and hitting fade-away short jumpers. Its hard enough to get up and attempt to alter the shot of a 6'4 Phillips, but she also adds a fade-away to the shot. Defenses are going to have to play the pivot and come in from the opposite wing to get a hand on one of her shots. Otherwise, Phillips will shoot over her defenders all game long.
EC Central did bring help, although not frequent enough to shut down Phillips. They did pack the lane well as the game went on, leaving the Brebeuf guards with wide-open shots on the perimeter. The defensive scheme paid off, as the cold shooting of the Brebeuf guards did not allow them to keep pace offensively with EC Central.
The attack from EC Central came from juniors-to-be Dee Dee Jernigan and Kelly Watts, who traded off as primary defenders on Phillips. Both at around 5'10, what they lacked in height they made up for in athleticism. Watts is a hard-nosed forward with good hands and a strong defender. Jernigan, an elite small forward, matched the offensive punch of Phillips, just in a different way.
If you give Jernigan a step, she can score on most defenders. Watching her weave through traffic for layups is similar to watching a player run layup drills through cardboard practice dummies. Her moves seem effortless, and it make her defenders look like they are standing still. She's very strong at finishing on her drives and has a sense for where the basket is while she is spinning around defenders. She has springs for legs, and rebounds better than most post players do. She's a skilled dribbler and possesses a flashy array of curls and passes. Jernigan has the mix of guard skills and forward skills to land her a scholarship at an elite program. All this offense, plus she is a very skilled defender. Jernigan has no glaring weakness in her game.
Brebeuf counters the flash of the EC Central guard/forwards with all-american Ta'Shia Phillips. A 6'4 center who, unlike some other 6'4 players, seems comfortable in polishing her back-to-the-basket game. Her pivots were smooth, but she tends to like short jumpers off her post moves with a little fade. It's very possible she altered her game to consider the jumping ability of Jernigan, but has an unlimited future if she pivots hard and goes for layups rather than short jumpers. Phillips has improved her footwork in the very short months between the high school season and now.
You might expect a post of her size to try to just outjump her opponents for rebounds, yet I cannot remember too many times where she went over the back of an opponent. She is quick-footed enough to slide into rebounding position instead of just relying on her height. She looks to have a very good freethrow shot, which is a must for any post player wanting significant playing time in college. Defensively, you can ask for little more against other post players. The main weakness in her game is defending smaller forwards who draw her out of the paint. Jernigan did this very well. Once you clear her wingspan -- which is impressive -- she does not recover well against slashing forwards. Three more years of high school should help her in this regard.
The Brebeuf/EC Central game also came down to the final seconds. Phillips, on a putback off a rebound, gave Brebeuf the 45-44 lead with seven seconds remaining. Streaking down the other end, Kelly Watts was fouled and sent to the line where she hit both freethrows to give EC Central the 46-45 win.
Other camp notes:
* Sources indicated the Purdue staff is looking at two players in their camp this year, Dee Dee Jernigan and the verbally committed Ta'Shia Phillips. They are also keeping an eye on one of the Saginaw Arthur Hill players.
* Miamisburg senior-to-be point guard Brittany Wells not only impressed the crowd, but also drew raves from the Purdue staff.
* Several Purdue players were spotted over the course of the weekend, including Brina Pollack, Lakisha Freeman and Katie Gearlds. All players are said to be on campus this summer with the exception of Carol Duncan.
* The chance to see Taylor Lawless, the cousin of Purdue's Erin Lawless, did not happen as she was out due to injury and did not play for Wheeling High this weekend.