By Justin Procope (@1Procope)
(Ed. Note: This story is part of CoBL’s “Prepping for Preps” series, which will take a look at many of the top high school programs in the region as part of our 2023-24 season preview coverage. The complete list of schools previewed thus far can be found here.)
Logyn Greer and Kaiya Rain Tucker could not be more different on the basketball court.
Greer is reserved, patient and graceful with her movements. Tucker is fiery, relentless and powerful.
Though polar opposites, the two have fit well together on and off the court dating all the way back to fourth grade.
Friends' Central forward/wing Logyn Green (left) holds offers from Ohio State, Kentucky, Michigan and others. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
“That’s my buddy,” Greer said with a smile. “It’s like a mind-connection thing, we just know where we’re going to be at all times”.
“We used to be besties,” Tucker said. “We played together when we were younger, now I know what she wants and she knows what I want. … It’s just natural.”
Friends’ Central went 24-7 last season in head coach Vinny Simpson’s first full season trying to elevate the program after taking over in the middle of the 2021-22 season. His junior frontcourt duo is a big reason why there is so much excitement around Friends’ Central this season.
Greer, a lanky 6-foot-3 forward/wing, is the main attraction for the Phoenix, with all the finesse of a guard in the body of a power forward. She averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game a season ago to earn first-team All-Friends School League honors. On the defensive end, her length and mobility allow her to matchup with nearly every position on the court.
The versatility she possesses on both ends of the floor for someone of her stature is an invaluable weapon for Simpson.
“I’m happy she’s with me and not against me,” he said with a laugh. “She just makes the game easy. She makes a lot of things easier because she’s able to do so many things”
Greer has quickly become one of the hottest recruits in her class with offers from several high-major Division I schools like Ohio State, Kentucky and Michigan.
She will find herself in the spotlight offensively as one of five returning players with former seniors Sana’a Garrett and Amani Savage gone. Greer has made it a goal to develop her mid- and low-post game this season.
Then there’s Tucker, the yin to Greer’s yang.
A 6-foot forward/center and a strong, physical player who punishes her opponents on the glass and in the post, Tucker holds offers from Maryland-Eastern Shore, UMass-Lowell and Coppin State. She’s more than happy to do all the dirty work necessary to allow her teammates to do what they do best.
While she has been working hard on improving her conditioning and jump shot, the most valuable skill Tucker brings to the table is her intensity and competitiveness, as seemingly every big play is followed by a scream and a flurry of high-fives.
Friends' Central forward/center Kaiya Rain Tucker holds offers from Maryland-Eastern Shore, UMass-Lowell and Coppin State. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
“It comes from the heart, the passion for the game,” Tucker said. “I want to win, I don’t want to lose. … I know you win some and you lose some, but I don’t ever want to lose.”
Returning to the backcourt for Friends’ Central will be Nal’la Bennett, who averaged 13.2 ppg and 3.0 apg last season. The 5-6 combo guard out of New York City transferred to Friends’ Central last season and made an instant impact with her elite 3-point shooting and ability as a passer. She’s another D-I prospect with offers from Delaware State, Long Island and Coppin State.
Also coming back is junior forward Jordyn Adderly, who was an important piece off the bench for the Phoenix last season. Her versatility on defense and microwave scoring ability on offense will have her in the rotation once again. Simpson’s squad added junior guard 5-4 guard Saniyah Washington, who averaged 14.6 ppg at MaST Charter last season.
Rounding out the young roster will be a trio of eighth graders and one freshman. Londyn Mayo, Faith Watson and Kiyari King will join 2027 point guard Phoenix Walker to make the step up to varsity. With so much young talent, Simpson is mindful to not rush the process.
“Patience, man. Patience, that’s all,” Simpson said.
“Trying to get everything in one year, it doesn’t work like that, you know? I want the girls to understand it’s a long season. We’re going to win, we’re going to lose. But if we stay patient and disciplined, we’re going to have a great year. We’re going to be able to compete with whoever we want to compete with.”
In the halfcourt, Simpson wants to empower his players to make decisions within the flow of the game, rather than limit their natural creativity with set plays and systems. Greer will be the focal point as a walking mismatch, but expect many names on this well-balanced roster to contribute to the score sheet.
Defense is the main area Simpson would like to see his team grow in. He wants his players to embrace the challenge of disrupting the opposition. Being able to create easy offense as a result of good defense will be a priority for the Phoenix as they have the personnel to rack up plenty of turnovers and get out on the break.
“Defense is definitely one of our best skills,” Tucker said. “Jump on the floor if you need to, do whatever you need to do to get the ball. It does not matter if you need to get seven fouls — I know it’s not possible — but get seven fouls. Get that ball.”
The Phoenix finished second in the FSL last season with a 7-1 record, and their lone blemish was a 55-37 loss to league champion Westtown. FCS lost to the league champs again, 75-35, in the FSL title game before ending its season with a loss to Penn Charter in the PAISAA semifinals.
Simpson played some of the area’s top programs like Penn Charter, Archbishop Wood and Spring-Ford during the regular season, and he will test his team once again in 2023-24 as they prepare to try to dethrone the Moose.
“I just want to see development,” Simpson said. “I want to win a championship, that’s the goal for every team, especially for a team like us.”
“As long as my girls grow, develop, I’m fine with it. … All that stuff means a lot to me.”
Friends’ Central’s star isn’t damping down expectations.
“Championship, states,” Greer said. “Pretty simple.”