OREGON CITY, Ore. -
Two hundred and twenty-one teams. Seven sites. Sixteen courts.
That's the End of the Oregon Trail Tournament in Oregon City, and its very size makes it all but impossible to see more than a handful of teams and players. So I won't even try to put together an all-tournament team, or even guess at who the overall best players were.
Instead, you'll have to settle for a list of the 10 players who, for one reason or another, impressed me most. And no, I'm not going to rate them one through 10, either – it's just alphabetical order, and again, I'm not even pretending this is a comprehensive overview of the talent at the EOT.
But this I will guarantee: That each of these girls is an outstanding player, and barring disaster, you'll see them playing Division I basketball down the road.Katie Collier, Tree of Hope (2012):
She won't dazzle with athleticism, or elevate to touch the rim, even though she's listed at 6-3. Instead, Collier just catches everything, keeps the ball above her head, uses her length at both ends of the court, and generally just plays very good basketball. The Seattle Christian (SeaTac, Wash.)
post will fade into the background during the high school season, but not before signing with one of the West Coast's premier college programs.Hannah Huffman, EBX (2012):
The 5-9 Notre Dame signee just took over a game against CBC, highlighting not only her skills but her indomitable will to win. Huffman is a strong two guard who can get to the rim, nail the pull-up jumper and hit the open three – but her greatest ability is to sense the occasion and do what needs to be done to win a game. She'll return to Carondelet (Concord, Calif.)
and the Cougars will be one of the favorites in Division II.Jackie Johnson, Minnesota Metro Stars (2012):
The 6-2 lefty is long and skilled – and though she looks slender enough to be knocked off the block, she holds her ground, catches the ball and finishes. She's also a good passer, shoots very well from mid-range and can even knock down a three-pointer. She led Eden Prairie (Eden Prairie, Minn.)
to the state finals last year, and will be looking for a repeat trip in 2011-12.Kailee Johnson, Team Concept (2013):
Though she's 6-3, Johnson isn't a post – she's a forward who can step out and hit the three as well as banging inside. She handles extremely well for a player her size, and her versatility makes her an elite recruit – and Central Catholic (Portland, Ore.)
may make some noise in Oregon if, as rumored, some transfers join her at the school's Portland campus.Kelsey Plum Wiggins Waves (2013):
The lefthanded point guard was the spark for the Waves, which were actually the La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla, Calif.)
Torreys – and though it's unusual for a high school team to reach the finals in the competitive EOT brackets, that's just what happened. Plum can shoot and drive, but more important, knows when to do each, and this showing by the Waves puts La Jolla Country Day in the mix for a California state title.Natalie Romeo, Cal Stars (2014):
The 5-7 point guard is just that – a point guard, and that's the rarest of rare birds in the girls' game. Romeo plays with Huffman at Carondelet, and led her team to the California Division I semifinals. She's best in the open court but can also hit the three and defend. And, as one would expect, she's an excellent passer who sees the court very well. (Disclosure: I coached the Cal Stars' fifth grade team in the spring.)Mercedes Russell, Team Concept (2013):
Russell, a 6-4 center, was no surprise at the EOT, as she showed herself to be the best young post in the country at the USA Basketball U16 trials. Russell still is growing into her body, but she's plenty strong right now, and has lots of skill around the hoop. When the time comes, she'll have her pick of colleges, as the horde of coaches in the stands at each of her games attest.Katie Samuelson, Cal Swish (2015):
Cal Swish is one of the legendary club programs, and has been a SoCal power forever – and Samuelson is the first incoming freshman to ever be on Russ Davis' top team. Her oldest sister (Bonnie) will play for Stanford, and her middle sister (Karlie) is one of Southern California's top players, but the consensus is that Katie will be the best of the three. Why? She's a long 6-3 shooter with great footwork, quickness and athleticism, and she's spent her youth getting worked in driveway games by her older sisters.Kellyn Schneider, New Mexico/Texas Heat:
The 6-6 post looks too slender to be really effective, but her ball skills and coordination are exceptional for a girl her size. Her older sister is at Texas Tech, and expect Kellyn to wind up at a school that plays at least at that level.Jamie Weisner, Northwest Blazers (2012):
The 5-10 Weisner was simply a scoring machine for the Blazers. She hit threes, elbow jumpers and got to the rim, and made a statement to the assembled college coaches. She plays for a 2A school in Washing (Clarkston)
so events like the End of the Trail are made for players for her. And she's not just a basketball player – Weisner is a track star as well, in the long jump, 300 hurdles and javelin.Clay Kallam is a national girls basketball expert for MaxPreps.com. He's coached and covered girls high school sports for more than three decades. He does national team rankings for MaxPreps.com.