Feeling ’22s, Part III


Third in a series looking at Horizon League women’s basketball’s committed players for 2022 (Part I, Part II)

Macie Taylor (Wright State)

Height: 5-8, Position: CG, High School: Troy HS (OH), Commit Date: October 20, 2021

Considering the obstacles in front of her, including a fairly late hiring date and the competitiveness of the state, Kari Hoffman and her staff did fantastic work in grabbing four of Ohio’s top 40 prospects for 2022, according to Prep Girls Hoops. That group is headlined by Taylor who checks in at tenth, first among combo guards. She decidedly puts the “combo” in the position too, check out PGH’s writeup on her:

“Very creative player, has the ability to score in a variety of ways. She has a deadly perimeter shot beyond the arc, and can put the ball on the floor and make things happen. Very good pull-up midrange shot, can rip past her opponent and score in the paint with either hand. Hard worker, leaves it on the floor.”

Other reports have given even more range to her offensive skillset, citing her court vision, passing, and handles, along with an unselfish attitude.

Here’s a sampling of AAU highlights for your consideration as well:

The Raiders are in sort of an interesting spot right now. While they had a lot of turnover this past offseason, it wasn’t quite a Detroit Mercy-level wipedown. WSU retained most of their depth, and likely just needs a couple of dynamic, x-factor types towards the top of the lineup to climb back into contention quickly. Taylor certainly seems like someone who can fit the bill and be a certified weapon in Dayton starting next season.

Lauren Scott (Wright State)

Height: 5-7, Position: CG, High School: Worthington Kilbourne HS (OH), Commit Date: September 18, 2021

Scott was the first of two fall commits for the Raiders, preceding Taylor by a month and jumping on board just ten days after Hoffman offered her.

While she is another combo guard option, Scott nevertheless offers a slightly different look from Taylor, as she’s seen as a bit more of the defensive floor leader type, but with offensive upside on top of that.

Per Prep Girls Hoops, “Scott is a confident floor leader, with excellent handles, super quick off the dribble moves to the bucket. You want the ball in Lauren’s hands! She rises to any challenge, makes the big shots. And on the defensive end, she’s aggressive and quick.”

Here’s some more:

She will be joining the Raiders once she finishes a legendary career at Worthington Kilbourne High School, where she’s already cracked the 1,000 point barrier heading into her senior year and averaged 23.5 per game as a junior. And, if she has any say over which sports Wright State will add to get up to the Division I minimum by next year, field hockey might make the cut – she’s also her school’s all-time leader in field hockey goals. And that’s not all she leads.

“Lauren is a great leader,” Wolves field hockey coach Alexandra Street said. “She’s a great vocal leader and she’s a great leader by example. She’s always one of the hardest workers at practice and she’s very aware of what’s around her. She gives her teammates credit for her success and she’s a great team player.”

Isabella Cassoni (Wright State)

Height: 5-5, Position: PG, High School: Waynesville HS (OH), Commit Date: May 28, 2021

Remember how a lot of the justification of Hoffman’s (somewhat) off-the-map hiring was her extensive knowledge of the local region? Well, here’s a case where it paid off directly, as Cassoni is one of Hoffman’s former Cedarville commits who then made the switch after Hoffman moved on to WSU.

It didn’t take terribly long for her to decide either, her May 28th commitment date was literally eight days after Hoffman was announced as WSU’s new coach, so there’s obviously a pretty significant connection between the coach and the player, something that can often push the latter beyond the types of assessments that had her nearly headed to Division II.

So what kind of player is she? Time for some video.

Something tells me that Cassoni is the type of player who thrives on being underestimated. She outworks people and makes things happen on the defensive end, she’s more than capable of earning her own buckets back the other way. And just when you think you have her figured out, she’ll start lasering dimes out of nowhere.

But enough from me, let’s close this out by hearing from an expert.

Clearly Cedarville’s loss is Wright State’s gain.

Makiya Miller (Wright State)

Height: 5-8, Position: PG, High School: Reynoldsburg HS (OH), Commit Date: June 14, 2021

Miller, a Columbus-area product like Scott, has upside as a defensive and three-point specialist. Need proof of the latter?

Really though, she offers something of a hybrid package, with a lot of the best traits also found in Miller and Cassoni. Consider this scouting report:

It seems clear to me that Hoffman is trying to quickly shape the program in her image with a series of well-rounded guards who are floor generals with high-end motors and skill to spare. It’s a lofty goal, essentially “be good at everything despite being somewhat undersized,” but knowing Cedarville’s recent history, it seems like one the Raiders will be capable of hitting sooner than later.

At Reynoldsburg (coincidentally, also nicknamed the Raiders), Miller has helped her team to three consecutive district titles while carrying a 4.19 grade point average. They’re a stacked squad that also includes high-major commits Mya Perry (Ohio State) and Imarianah Russell (West Virginia) among Miller and others, so they’ll certainly be looking for banners a bit bigger than districts this season.

Finally, here’s Prep Girls Hoops’ raving report:

“What a strong guard! Incredibly unselfish player who will do whatever it takes to win! She is a floor leader who really takes control of the tempo. Light feet, which greatly benefit her on the defensive end, generating turnovers and transition baskets. Don’t leave her open for any outside shots- because she has a quick release and will nail them!”

Four highly-rated guards who, as a group, bring just about everything you need in a backcourt. Wright State just might be building something.

Louella Allana (Robert Morris)

Height: 5-4, Position: PG, High School: Winston-Salem Christian School (NC), Commit Date: October 24, 2021

Robert Morris, in their short time in the Horizon League, is already known as the program that will find players from anywhere and everywhere. Charlie Buscaglia’s 2022 class is no different as it includes a pair of Canadians, British Columbia’s Paris Kirk and Louella Allana, a point guard from Quebec.

Allana, who was also offered by San Jose State, among others, has quite a fascinating background. While she grew up in Laval, though her parents emigrated from the Philippines. Later, as basketball became a priority, she came to the US for school, eventually matriculating at Winston-Salem Christian School – though she has competed for the Canadian Jr. National Team as well.

Reese’s Prep Network did an extremely in-depth feature on Allana, and I encourage you to head there for more detail than I can offer in a 250-word blurb, but the upshot on Allana as a player is that she’s a textbook pass-first point guard. She has a high IQ, is a vocal leader, and also has a nice enough shot to keep defenses honest. At 5-4, size is something of a struggle, and she does need to get stronger according to Reese’s, but all in all, the Colonials may have a prospect that can direct the floor for them right away and free up some of their talented young wings.

Paris Kirk (Robert Morris)

Height: 6-2, Position: F, High School: Putnam Science Academy (CT), Commit Date: October 7, 2021

Kirk is the bigger and more western half of RMU’s new Canadian tandem. Seriously, check this video out and tell me you couldn’t see some nice little inside-outside work between her and Allana in the near future.

Like Allana, Kirk also came across the border for basketball opportunities, winding up at Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut (incidentally, Allana was also at PSA briefly before the school canceled its 2020-21 season, leading to her transfer down south). If Kirk is a bit homesick, well, she feels like she found an environment similar to Kelowna in western Pennsylvania.

“It’s right by Pittsburgh and West Virginia, so it’s got the balance of nature and city,” the 4.0 student said after committing. “I really like being in the outdoors, and on campus, you see the green hills everywhere and there is a lake nearby.”

“It just really hit all the boxes. It felt like it was the right place, so why wait? I didn’t want to seem like I wasn’t interested in them by waiting and seeing what other options I could also have. It’s the right place for me.”

Fair enough. Her coach at PSA, Devin Hill, certainly feels like she’s ready for the next level.

“She gives us some different things that we haven’t had in the past as far as her versatility goes,” he said. “But the thing about her…when people talk about Division I players, they talk about the talent, which is understandable. But when they have to run or do some type of small punishment, Paris will never complain, and she’s usually first or second.”

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