CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
MANHEIM, Pa. — The Girls’ Under Armour Association Championships took place this weekend at the massive Spooky Nook Sports complex, with some of the best programs from around the country coming to Lancaster County to compete for the GUAA title. The college coaches were out in force, with hundreds of D-I programs from coast to coast in the building, the sidelines packed with some of the biggest names in the business.
Here’s a notebook featuring some rising senior (2022) players CoBL watched over the course of Saturday and Sunday:
Jalyn McNeill (above) committed to Drexel just before the Dragons won the 2021 CAA Tournament title. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Jalyn McNeill (2022 | Germantown Lady Panthers | Our Lady Good Counsel, Md.)
There was a strange feeling for McNeill as her Lady Panthers went up against the Comets in a first-round bracket game Friday night. While she wouldn’t say she was happy when Comets guard Grace O’Neill scored a bucket or dished out an assist, there was undoubtedly a sense of pride sprouting inside.
That’s what happens when you’re watching your future college teammate, even when she’s your opponent at the time.
“You just look at her differently now,” McNeill said. “When she makes shots, on the inside now I’m like, ‘okay Grace, okay.’ I’m just happy that she's out here doing her thing.”
McNeill and O’Neill make up half of Drexel’s 2022 recruiting class, and while O’Neill got the better of her future teammate that night, it’s Dragons coach Amy Mallon who looks like the real winner as the second-year head coach builds off a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) title this past season.
An athletic, physical 5-8 combo guard, McNeill can get to the bucket and score but also showed her passing abilities playing for GLP in a Saturday afternoon consolation game. Vocal on the court, she played more off the ball than on it but knew how to find space on the perimeter and pick her attacking spots well, while playing tough defense at the other end.
Drexel gave McNeill her first offer, at the beginning of her sophomore year at St. John’s College (D.C.); she transferred to Our Lady of Good Counsel before her junior year. After receiving an offer from Monmounth and looks from other schools, McNeill made the decision to commit to Drexel because of its family values.
One particular experience helped push McNeill towards Drexel, and it had nothing to do with the hardwood.
“One of the players is from Canada, and they had a Canadian thanksgiving in the dorm,” McNeill said. “That’s what family really is. That they celebrated her and her ethnicity is really amazing.”
McNeill’s March commitment came just before Drexel’s CAA championship win, the second in program history after accomplishing the same feat in 2009. She watched the 63-52 win over rival Delaware at home with her family, knowing that she would be a part of that program soon.
“I was cheering as if I was a Dragon already,” McNeill said. “It’s good to know that they won. I was completely happy for them and I’m happy to go into a championship environment.”
The other half of Drexel’s ‘22 class comes from Northeast Pennsylvania: Riverside’s Kylie Lavelle and Dunmore’s Moriah Murray, teammates together for NEPA Elite.
McNeill hadn’t yet seen Lavelle or Murray play, but she was plenty familiar with O’Neill, having gone up against her in a previous GUAA event this offseason before their Friday night matchup. She’s certainly looking forward to sharing a backcourt with the 5-7 point guard.
“Grace is a great player, a great point guard,” said McNeill. “She understands the game, and her game is just unbelievable. To know that’s my teammate in a year is amazing.”
In addition to her excitement about her new teammates, McNeill looks forward to working with Drexel’s coaching staff. Mallon, who was an assistant at Drexel from 2007-20 before taking over the program following Denise Dillon’s departure to Villanova, put together a high-level staff that includes former D-I ballplayers Jillian Duston (Michigan), Laura Kurz (Duke/Villanova) and Stacy Weiss (Drexel), with a group expected to compete for yet another CAA title this winter.
“She’s a great coach, coach Amy,” said McNeill. “I saw her out here this weekend. She's a great coach and a great person. Our whole entire coaching staff [...] are just great people. They really make me feel like part of the family.” — Bridget Hyland + Josh Verlin
Timaya Lewis-Eutsey (above) de-committed from Temple earlier this month. (Photo: Kayla Yoegel/CoBL)
Timaya Lewis-Eutsey (2022 | Books & Basketball Academy | Life Center Academy, N.J.)
Lewis-Eutsey showed her scoring prowess in a 66-65 loss to FGB on Saturday afternoon. Lewis-Eutsey, a 5-10 shooting guard, had 18 points at the half and finished the game with a team-high 32 points. She was scoring on multiple levels as she finished strong at the basket, converted at the free-throw line, and hit a pair from beyond the arc. After her performance, she expressed her excitement for being able to showcase her skills in front of numerous college coaches.
“It means a lot, I’ve been working on my game, and this is my first year playing in front of all these coaches,” Lewis-Eutsey said. “I’ve been working on my game, so it means a lot to be able to get in front of them and perform and show them what I’ve got.”
Lewis-Eutsey, who recently decommitted from Temple on July 14, still holds that offer from the Owls but also has offers from VCU, University of Delaware, James Madison, and Hofstra. She also has interests from a variety of other schools and said that Sacred Heart and Seton Hall have also remained in close contact with her.
In terms of a timeline for her commitment, Lewis-Eutsey is looking to commit sometime in the beginning of the school year: “November, December, maybe around there.” In the meantime, is focusing on improving her game. Lewis-Eutsey said she’s been focusing on increasing her consistency shooting from beyond the arc and her left hand.
Lewis-Eutsey plays her high school ball for Life Center Academy out of Burlington, New Jersey. The team competes in national tournaments and has a number of alumni playing high-level collegiate basketball, including Tera Reed (VCU) and Imani Lewis (Duke). Soon, Lewis-Eutsey will be yet another player from the program who continues her athletic career collegiately. With her senior year on the horizon, Lewis-Eutsey is excited to get started and has big goals for both herself and her team.
“I’m very excited, I wanna go out with a bang, have a great year, try to score my 2,000 points, trying to get there and have a good year,” she said. “We travel all over the place and I just wanna win the big tournaments, The Rose Classic, The She Got Game, anything we can. I wanna have a great year.” — Kayla Yoegel
Ashleigh Connor (above) has offers from schools spread all around the northern part of the U.S. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
— With her final summer of grassroots hoops winding down, the next goal is clear for Ashleigh Connor (2022 | Western PA Bruins | Mount Lebanon, Pa.): make a college section. And she’s got plenty of options. A 5-10 guard from the western part of the Keystone State and a PIAA 6A second team all-state selection as a junior (21.7 ppg), Connor has a strong collection of mid-major offers from the Northeast to the Midwest, including La Salle, Northeastern, Oakland, Kennesaw State, Purdue-Ft. Wayne, High Point and more.
“I know my parents are going to travel to my games no matter where I go, they tell me that all the time,” she said. Instead, she’s focusing on “a place that feels like home, because I know I’m going to be there a lot,” adding that “it’s academics first, and then athletics — but also, athletics are really important.”
Connor said she’s anticipating an August decision, which means she’ll need to take several visits in the near future. She mentioned Northeastern (in Boston) as well as High Point (N.C.) and UC Santa Barbara as three schools in particular she wanted to see, but also said her recruitment was “pretty open” as it enters the stretch run. She showed why she’s so highly-recruited in a 57-50 consolation bracket win over Lady Martin Brothers (Iowa) on Saturday morning, scoring 25 points by attacking the rim and getting to the line, knocking down 10 free-throws.
— The Wisconsin Flight Elite’s 17U group put on a passing and shooting clinic in a 69-40 quarterfinal win over Arizona Elite on Saturday afternoon. As a group, the Flight knocked down 15 3-pointers, 21 assists of their 25 made baskets overall. Oregon State commit Lillian Hansford (2022 | Appleton East, Wi.), a 6-2 lefty shooting guard with a quick, high release, was 5-of-8 from deep for 19 points, six rebounds and five assists; her year-round teammate, 5-11 Marquette commit Emily Lachpell (2022 | Appleton East, Wi.), had 11 points, seven rebounds and three steals; Butler commit Jordan Meulemans (2022 | De Pere, Wi.) was 4-of-5 from deep to help her to 14 points, and 5-7 Milwaukee commit Kamy Peppler (2022 | Hortonville, Wi.) had seven assists playing point guard as well as six points on a pair of 3-pointers.
— Watched FBC United take down Comets Basketball on Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinal round, including an impressive showing by Miami (Fl.) commit Lazaria Spearman (2022 | Dacula, Ga.); the 6-4 forward had 16 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals, stepping out to knock down a smooth 3-pointer from straightaway but also grabbing offensive boards and finishing around the rim with ease. A fluid athlete in the frontcourt, Spearman was a tough task for a Comets group that doesn’t have a ton of size on the roster.
For the Comets, DePaul commit Maeve McErlane (2022 | Notre Dame Academy, Pa.) was tremendous with 23 points and six rebounds; the 5-10 combo guard was 9-of-18 from the floor and 5-of-10 from deep, grabbins six rebounds with two assists. Stuffing the stat sheet was 5-7 Drexel commit Grace O’Neill (2022 | Archbishop Carroll, Pa.), who flirted with a triple-double in a 10-point, 11-rebound (five offensive), seven-assist, two-steal outing. Recent Richmond commit Maggie Doogan (2022 | Cardinal O’Hara, Pa.) showed her shooting abilities with a 20-point, four-rebound game, going 4-of-6 from distance. — Josh Verlin
— Meredith Maier (2022 | West Virginia Thunder | South Charleston, W.Va.) came out to Spooky Nook this weekend in one of her first large exposure tournaments. The 6-0 forward currently has offers from Marshall, Youngstown State, Southern Mississippi, Stetson, and D-II Fairmont State. So far, she said all of her offers have excited her, but she has only visited Marshall and Fairmont State.
While Maier plans to keep her options open for now, she sees herself staying in the Midwest for college. She hopes to pick up a few more offers after July ends, and will make a decision once she knows all of her choices.
Maier has some strong skill sets to offer to colleges recruiting her; in particular, her versatility. She showed plenty of it in a 59-54 win over FGB, as an active screen-setter and rebounder who moved well without the ball and finished around the rim. “I play a pretty big job being at post because we don’t really have a big player, so filling that role and also being able to shoot the ball pretty well is helpful,” she said.
When Maier considers her decision, she will specifically be looking for a family-oriented program. “Finding a place where I can fit in and play basketball, that’s my most important thing,” she said. — Bridget Hyland