Back in Indianapolis for 2004 was the Blue Star Elite Camp, hosted at the new Fieldhouse in Fishers, IN. The two-day camp invites underclassmen and puts them through an intense series of fundamental drills and controlled scrimmages. The 2004 Elite Camp was attended by 62 promising players from the classes of 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Nineteen states were represented at the camp, including California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The last time Blue Star Elite was held in Indianapolis, it was hosted in 2002 at Perry Meridian High school directly up against the Nike Girls Camp being held in downtown Indianapolis. With the Nike Camp the following week, Blue Star set itself up as a prime viewing spot for talented underclassmen. It also allowed players like Sarah Tokodi to attend Blue Star for fundamental work, then go to Nike for more work against upperclassmen.
Compared to past Blue Star Elite Camps we have scouted, this year featured the elite-level talent we saw back at the 2001 camp, but also had a higher level of high-major talent than past camps. Blue Star's Mike Flynn did an excellent job collecting this group of players, and put it in a facility that allowed full court vision of every player in every game. Judging from the space available on the coaches balconey, Blue Star continues to be the college scout's best kept secret. The players are generally more relaxed, primarily because 200 legendary Division I caoches aren't sitting just off the court. You see a little more of a player's personality at Blue Star than you do at the seemingly more "serious" Nike All-American Camp.
Below are some observations for a sampling of players from the camp. These players stood out on Thursday in the games I viewed. Omission from this list should not be taken as an indication of talent, or lack thereof. To get a good view of players that caught my eye, I have to watch them for a period of time in different situations.
Notes were taken in the style we do at any camp we attend. Notes are by jersey number during the camp. Only later is a name put to the jersey number. This allows a level of objectivity by preventing being "star struck" by a popular, or well-publicized player.
2006 Sarah Tokodi (5'10, HS: Parkersburg Catholic (WV), AAU: WV Tornados) -- The best tip that can be given to a player attending a camp that will be viewed by scouts and coaches is to play every possession, whether in drill or scrimmage, like it is the play that determines the outcome of a game. The hard work will get you noticed, and it could be enough to get you a scholarship somewhere. Welcome to the collegiate scholarship sweepstakes. Bust your butt and win an education valued at $100,000. Looking back at the camp, many players took this to heart. None as much as Sarah Tokodi. Her game is surprisingly balanced and fundamentally sound. Her moves on the dribble are powerful, but she remains light on her feet. Handling the ball she has a smooth crossover, is a righty, but can go with either hand. She follows the ball well on defense, and is a capable open court defender with some quick hands. At one point she got caught on defense against 6'4 Kathryn Wighton for a portion of a game, and showed she can be resourceful with against players that have six inches on her. Wighton did everything to try to blast her out of the post, but Tokodi stood her ground. In one-on-one work, she showed a desire to score. Players that are not very good one-on-one tend to just focus on getting their shot off and somewhere around the basket, as if the goal is to just show you can beat your man. Tokodi's shots were falling for most of the day, whether in games or drills. Boxes out when her opponent takes the shot. Tokodi had everything going her way at this camp, and it really showed in her demeanor. She sparkled.
2007 Ta'Shia Phillips (6'5, HS: Brebeuf Prep (IN), AAU: The Family) -- There is no one her equal at this camp in terms of a classic low post player. Has a very polished, simple game. She knows what her bread and butter is, and she does it to perfection. Granted there was no overly competitive matchup against her until 6'6 Amber Harris went up against her, but Phillips does one thing very well -- posting up and showing a big target, receiving the ball, pivoting, and shooting over her defenders. Very accurate because she kept within 10 feet of the basket for most of the games. Didn't see her trying to be a perimeter shooter, or impress anyone with her ballhandling ability (which is exceptional for a player of her size). One of the finest low post players I've seen at this age. Too many blocked shots to count. Opposing players seemed to have a good time trying to defend her. One forward, after several futile attempts to keep her from scoring, trotted down the court, smiled to her coach and proclaimed, "Coach, she's abusing me!" Very mild mannered character on the floor. A girl that just goes to work when on the floor.
2006 Korinne Campbell (6'0, HS: Notre Dame (NJ), AAU: Philadelphia Belles) -- Her body reminds one of Sade Buley, but Campbell seems to have a power advantage over that comparison. Functioned in most situations as a power forward, but can create her own offense well enough, and has some great slashing moves to project out at small forward. At the top of the list of power players at the camp, and it was obvious she came to play. She actually chose Blue Star for the opportunity to match up against Amber Harris, a matchup that really didn't materialize. Campbell proved she could pull up and shoot over Harris, but did have a shot rejected by Harris. The potential top camp matchup did not develop because Harris didn't seem to be interested in challenging anyone at the camp. So Campbell took her game mostly against 6'0 Lesslee Cox and 5'10 Doreena Campbell. She thrived against Cox and Doreena Campbell, as she could dribble penetrate to open spots in the defense before defenders could adjust. Nice upper body strength mixed with enough finesse to make those floating jumpers go. Impressive passing, and a sick no-look baseline pass. She knows she draws defenders and is ready to dish when it happens. Excellent short jumpshot and elevation. Couldn't ask for a better power forward at this camp.
2006 Ashley Barlow (5'8, HS: Indianapolis Pike (IN), AAU: The Family) -- Despite having a leg brace on, she runs the court quickly showing not much of an effect from it. Very crafty at sneaking behind the defense and parking herself near the basket for the pass. Lots of her points were on short jumpers and layups. She has a very efficient shooting motion, and is a deadly catch and shoot type player.
2008 Kristine Best (5'3, HS: St. Anthony's (NY), AAU: LI Silver Bullets) -- Got limited looks at her, but obviously has exceptional passing skills, putting enough pepper on the ball to thread it through defense on the move. Quick feet and keeps her head up.
2007 Chloe Woodington (5'4, HS: Parkway (LA), AAU: Louisiana Lady Panthers) -- Two dribbles and she's open. Appears to have a mature grasp of what her defenders like to do and looks to exploit seams in the defense. Didn't look to overpenetrate, relying on a sharp short jumper. She has a distance game to go along with her short game, hitting two in a row in one game, one off a crisp screen and one pull-up off the dribble.
More to come!