Notebook: Freshman DeCosta’s star rising

By Carl Adamec

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Two of the best high school players in the last decade — Jacki Gemelos (Class of 2006) and Chelsea Gray (Class of 2010) — came out of St. Mary’s of Stockton, California.

The Rams may have their next standout in freshman forward Aquira DeCosta.

“I don’t know much about them but it always seems like that I’m compared to them,” DeCosta said Saturday. “I know from Coach (Tom) Gonsalves that they were great players so it’s nice to hear. But I’m still young. It keeps me humble and keeps me wanting to play well.”

DeCosta, considered to be among the top players in the Class of 2018, helped St. Mary’s to the California open division state championship in March. She was one of 35 players to earn an invitation to USA Basketball’s U-16 national team trials, which continue Sunday at the United States Olympic Training Center.
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U-16 invitee Boothe stays true to herself

By Carl Adamec

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Rellah Boothe admits she’s nervous when she’s about to take the court with her Potter’s House Christian girls basketball team.

But on the bus ride to a game against national-power Blackman High of Murfreesboro, Tennessee — which featured five Division I players including UConn Class of 2016 commit Crystal Dangerfield and Class of 2015 Tennessee signee MeMe Jackson — last Nov. 28, Boothe felt a calm come over her.

“You know what? I just knew we were going to beat them,” Boothe said Saturday. “On the way over I went to my coach and said, ‘I’m ready. I’m ready to play this game.’ We had heard they had all these good players and we wanted to show them that we could beat anyone. Anyone can get beat. UConn can get beat.”
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Richards’ play can take your breath away

By Carl Adamec

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Deauzya “DiDi” Richards would play basketball 24/7 if she could. But after the final session of the day at USA Basketball’s U-16 national team trials Friday, she was looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

“The altitude is killing me,” Richards said with a smile. “I did more running than I usually do to get ready. I worked out more than I usually do. I was doing two-a-days like every single day. I talked to (fellow Texans and 2014 U-17 gold medalists) Nancy Mulkey and Joyner Holmes about how to get used to it and they gave me some ideas. Still …”

But when Saturday’s morning’s first session arrived, Richards was attacking the basket on offense and wreaking havoc on the defensive end.
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Connecticut players fitting in on U-16 stage

By Carl Adamec

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Meaghan O’Hara faced some of the best competition Connecticut had to offer in her sophomore season with the Ridgefield High girls basketball team.

Ridgefield defeated Wilton, the eventual Class LL state tournament champion, en route to the FCIAC tournament title.

But O’Hara and Stamford resident McKenna Frank are on a national stage here as they are among the 149 players taking part in USA Basketball’s U-16 national team trials at the United States Olympic Training Center.
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UConn commit Espinoza-Hunter enjoying the ride

By Carl Adamec

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It seemed like Andra Espinoza-Hunter was just along for the ride.

As a seventh grader playing on the Ossining (New York) High girls varsity basketball team, she would join Pride coach Dan Ricci and junior guard and recruiting target Saniya Chong when they traveled to Storrs or Hartford to watch the University of Connecticut play.

Little did the Huskies’ coaching staff and players know the impact they were having on Espinoza-Hunter.
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Diarra picks UConn

John F. Silver

UConn head coach Kevin Ollie can recruit high schoolers too.

Mamadou Diarra, a 6-foot-8 forward who played for Putnam Science Academy in Woodstock, Conn. , announced at a press conference on Friday morning that he will attend UConn in 2016.

Diarra chose between UConn and VCU. He is from Queens and visited UConn in April. He had graduated from Putnam Science, which will close at the end of the school year, and will play as a postgrad at Woodstock Academy next year.

UConn also is pursuing Terry Larrier, a former VCU commit who is transferring and visited campus this week. The Huskies added help for 2015 getting fifth year transfers Shonn Miller from Cornell and Sterling Gibbs from Seton Hall.

 


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Texas’ Williams has United front at U-16 trials

By Carl Adamec

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — One of Jade Williams’ goals for 2015 is to be a member of the United States U-16 national team.

The 6-foot-4 sophomore center from The Colony, Texas, knew the basics coming here for the first time that she had to work hard and be a good teammate. But before arriving for the trials that began Thursday, Williams got some advice from a player that’s had plenty of success in a short time for USA Basketball — Texas United AAU teammate Lauren Cox, a two-time gold medalist and member of the 2015 U-19 national team.
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