Ohio has seen is share of talented girl’s basketball players in recent years and the class of 2008 ranks up there with some of the best. Hoopgurlz.com has four girls from Ohio ranked in the nation’s top 15 players, including Amber Gray (left), Cierra Bravard, Shay Selby and Ayana Dunning.
The following is a look at the top girl's basketball players this year in Ohio's class of 2008.
Ohio has seen is share of talented girl’s basketball players in recent years and the class of 2008 ranks up there with some of the best.
Hoopgurlz.com, the leading authority in high school girl's basketball and women's college-basketball prospects on the national level, has four girls from Ohio ranked in the nation’s top 15 players, including West Chester Lakota West wing Amber Gray, Sandusky Perkins center Cierra Bravard, South Euclid Regina point guard Shay Selby and Columbus Eastmoor Academy center Ayana Dunning.
No other state in the country boasts as many players in the top 15 than Ohio.
Gray Leads The Way
Gray is rated as the No. 4 overall prospect in the country and is the No. 2 wing behind the nation’s overall top rated player Elena Delle Donne of Connecticut.
Standing in at 6-foot-1, Gray has led the Lady Firebirds to the Division I regional finals each of the last two years and was a first team All-Ohio selection last season with 20.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game for Lakota West (23-3).
Gray lead the Greater Miami Conference with a 56.9 field goal percentage, 197 rebounds, 35 blocks, 48 assists and 42 steals.
She is a Tennessee recruit and selected the legendary Volunteers program over the likes of Ohio State, Duke, North Carolina, Maryland, Rutgers and LSU.
“I looked at a lot of different schools but many of them were going through coaching changes and I wanted stability,” Gray said. “Even if coach (Pat Summit) were to retire, the other coaches behind her (on staff) are just as good.
“Tennessee has a good crowd,” she added. “When the football team is good, they’re big down there. But the Lady Vols really get them going.”
Gray averaged 20.7 ppg as a sophomore.
“Gray has developed a nice perimeter game to go with a strong inside game,” said Tom Jenkins of the Ohio Girls Basketball Report. “She is strong around the basket, but also has a great mid-range game. She is considered the best finisher in America against contact with a strong body, great hands, great instincts and a very high basketball IQ.
“She is a very good defender but is a great offside defender and is willing to take charge anywhere on the floor under any conditions.
“In a class of great power forwards, she is the Rolls Royce,” Jenkins added.
Gray is the daughter of UCLA football All-American Carlton Gray, who was a seven-year veteran in the NFL.
Center Of Attention
Bravard catapulted to the No. 7 rated prospect in the country for the class of 2008 and the No. 2 rated center following a state runner-up finish last season and a dominating summer on the AAU circuit.
Last season, Bravard averaged 23.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game in leading the 21-4 Lady Pirates to their first trip to the state tournament. In doing so, she was named Division II co-player of the year and was a finalist for the coveted Ms. Basketball award.
“She’s a tremendous talent,” said Perkins head coach Ray Neill. “I like to tell people that she’s made herself into a basketball player and not just someone who is 6-foot-4 and plays basketball. She’s a basketball player now who happens to be 6-foot-4.”
Perkins advanced to the regional finals in Bravard’s sophomore season falling 44-43 to state runner-up Copley. She earned first team All-Ohio honors, tallying 22.0 points, 9.1 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game for the Lady Pirates.
Her freshman year, Bravard contributed 13.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game breaking into the starting lineup midway through the season.
She committed Florida State in early November choosing the Seminoles over Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Miami (Fla.), Maryland and Kentucky.
“You like her physical presence,” Jenkins said. “She is a big, strong post player with great hands. She gives you a strong anchor on the offensive end.”
Point (Guard) And Case
Standing in at 5-foot-9, Selby comes in at No. 13 amongst the nation’s top prospects in the class of 2008 and has made her case as the top point guard in the country ranked No. 1 at that position.
The Duke recruit averaged 23 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 4.5 steals last season leading the Royals to a Division III AP Poll Championship. She also shot 51 percent from the field and was a remarkable 83 percent from the charity stripe.
Selby was named the Northeast Lake district co-player of the year and was named the Division III co-player of the year.
“Without a doubt and without argument, Selby is the best scorer in the state regardless of class,” Jenkins said. “She can shoot the three, can take you off the bounce with either hand, can get all the way to the rack or can pull up and elevate mid-range.
“Selby is a tremendous passer and sees the floor extremely well. She can drop a dime on a teammate on the move or one that is stationary.
“There is not a thing that this kid can not do with the basketball in her hands,” he added. “There is no question Selby is the best player in the state with the basketball in her hands.”
Selby averaged 22.1 ppg as a sophomore after averaging 15.4 ppg as a freshman in Regina’s Division III state title run.
Not To Be Out-Dunn
Ranked No. 14, 6-foot-3, Ayana “Ya-Ya” Dunning has led the Lady Warriors to the state tournament two of the last three seasons earning first team All-Ohio honors last year as a junior averaging 18.1 points and 14 rebounds per game for Eastmoor (19-5).
She recently committed to LSU over Ohio State, Illinois, Rutgers and Maryland to name a few.
“Dunning is the best pure post player in Ohio in the 2008 class and may be the best in America for her class,” said Jenkins.
“She can play the power forward or center slot positions. She has a strong body and great hands and can play physical on the defensive end without getting into foul trouble. She is a physical player who is dominating on the low block and can finish with either hand against contact. Dunning has such a presence that she demands a double-down in the post area.
“She is a great rebounder who actually boxes out with sound mechanics making herself big and keeping herself tall. She is extremely quick for her size and body type.
“In short, ‘Ya-Ya’ is the total post package,” Jenkins said.
Dunning was an All-Ohio second-team selection her sophomore year with 19 ppg leading the Lady Warriors to the regional finals.
“(She is) a tremendous athlete and a tremendous young lady,” said Eastmoor head coach Jim Miranda. “She has the strength and skills to play inside and she also has the ability and range to go outside, so she is pretty much a complete ball player.”
The Best Of The Rest
Justine Rateman is ranked as the No. 35 overall prospect in the country and is rated as the No. 10 forward. The 6-foot-1 post player took home second-team All-Ohio honors for state semifinalist Versailles last season averaging 16.2 ppg. Raterman is a University of Dayton recruit and is the younger sister of fifth-year Lady Tigers head coach Jacki Stonebaker.
University of Massachusetts recruit Alesia Howard of Columbus Africentric is ranked No. 57 in the country. The 5-foot-9 senior guard averaged 9.7 ppg last year in the Nubians Division IV state champion season earning All-Ohio special mention recognition.
Amber Stokes of Gahanna Lincoln comes in at No. 63 amongst the nation’s elite and has committed to Ohio State.
No. 68-ranked Tiera Stephen of Dayton Chaminade-Julienne was a second team All-Girl's Greater Cincinnati League selection last year for the traditional power Lady Eagles. The 5-foot-7 point guard has committed to Louisville.
Jessica Pachko of Cincinnati Oak Hills checks in at No. 79. The 6-foot-2 Marquette recruit was a second team All-Ohio selection in the post last season for the Lady Highlanders with 13.7 ppg.
Guard Courtney Lumpkin, a Morehead State recruit, is ranked No. 83. The 5-foot-8 wing is rated No. 28 amongst the top players at that position.
Dayton Carroll 5-foot-9 point guard Brogan Berry was the GGCL player of the year last season with 16.3 points, 7.5 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals per game. The Harvard recruit was also named to the Division II All-Ohio second team and is rated No. 97 in the country.
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