Friday, February 17, 2017

5 questions with Maya Dodson: St. Francis star aims for ‘three-peat’

                         Maya Dodson holds the second of two state-championship trophies she’s won at St. Francis.


Todd Holcomb, ajc.com, February 17, 2017

Maya Dodson of St. Francis is the No. 1 senior women’s basketball recruit in Georgia and No. 11 player nationally, according to HoopGurlz. The 6-foot-3 wing has scored 1,170 points and has 673 rebounds and 226 blocked shots in her three seasons at St. Francis, during which Dodson has led the Knights to consecutive state championships. Dodson has signed with Stanford.
Here are five quick questions with Dodson as she and St. Francis get ready for the state tournament, which begins this weekend. St. Francis (24-4) is ranked No. 1 in the Class A private-school division.
How do you see the Class A private-school state tournament playing out, and how does St. Francis match up with top contenders Holy Innocents’ and Wesleyan?
‘’Our plan is to three-peat as state champions. I really don’t know much about playing either one since they had been in Class AA. Holy Innocents’ won the AA championship last year and Wesleyan the year before. Both teams are great, and we will have to bring our A game no matter who we play. This will be great way to end my high school career.’’
What were your experiences with Team USA and best memories of last summer?
‘’My Team USA experience was surreal. From the tryouts to the practices to the competition in Spain, it really stretched me and made me a much better player. All of us on the team made a bond that will last forever. My best memory was being in the medal game against China and all of us coming together for the win. Of course getting a medal and hearing your national anthem is the best feeling of all.’’ [Dodson won a bronze medal with Team USA at the FIBA U17 world championships in Zaragoza, Spain. Dodson started all seven games and averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds.]
How do you feel about your selection to the McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago and also being able to play there with your St. Francis teammate...?
‘’It is a distinct honor and a glorious milestone in my basketball career. I grew up watching these games and thinking about how cool it would be to be chosen to play. This is a dream come true! [As far as playing with my teammate … ] It’s going to be awesome! We have had much success on the high school stage. We have become good friends over the years. To share this honor being her teammate one last time will be a lasting memory.’’
What do you want to accomplish between now and when you go to Stanford, and why?
‘’Besides winning our third state championship, I just want to get better. I will try to improve in specific aspects of my game. I will report this summer. I want to be prepared to work hard and contribute.’’
What will you be doing in seven years?
‘’This is a tough one. That seems like a lifetime away. I would have finished a successful career at Stanford for a start. I hope to continue playing, whether it’s WNBA, overseas or both. I also would like to start my own business. If I could combine basketball with a business, it would be the best-case scenario!’’
                      Maya Dodson was a starter on USA’s U17 team that won a bronze medal last summer in Spain.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dodson part of St. Francis' dominant duo



Bill Baldowski, mdjonline.com, February 11, 2017

When St. Francis High School senior Maya Dodson, the 6-foot, 3-inch starting point guard for the Lady Knights varsity girls’ basketball team, was notified she had been selected to the McDonald’s All-America basketball program’s East squad, she was excited to be chosen.
However, the 18-year-old daughter of Darryl and Karen Dodsonwas overjoyed that her teammate, 6-4 senior center, had also been named to the squad and they were both going to Chicago for the March 29 McDonald’s All American East-West game.
“I was thankful and humbled to make the team, but to have a teammate also selected to the team really makes it special and says something about our team and how well we have not only played as individuals, but played as a unit,” she said.
However, one other statistic for head coach Aisha Kennedy’s team, its won-loss record, also reflected how well it had played together all season after finishing its regular schedule last week with a decisive 81-18 win over Excel Academy of Carterville.
That victory gave the Lady Knights a 22-4 regular-season record, including a 12-0 region 6-A mark, as it had scored 1,824 points this season, while allowing opponents 907 points, for an average win each game of 70-34.
This season, Dodson, who has committed to play at Stanford University next season, averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots for the Lady Knights.
Kennedy said that in addition to great leadership, she had brought a high basketball intelligence quotient to the team and, in the coach’s words, is “an amazing talent and one of the best players we have had here at St. Francis High School and one of the best players I have ever coached.”
Dodson said she has always taken pride in her defense, especially in being a shot blocker under the basket, or as she termed it, “in the paint.”
It isn’t only on the basketball court where she has excelled but in the classroom as well, as she has a 4.0 grade point average in her senior season.
Although Dodson has been satisfied with the way she has played this season, she much preferred to talk about how well the team had played and how close-knit the squad is.
“Our team was really excited about both making the McDonald’s All-America team, as it gives us the opportunity to show the high level of basketball we play here at St. Francis High School,” Dodson said. “Our team’s goal each game is to play hard, play with heart and enthusiasm and play as a team.”
The team has always tried to participate in activities together as much off the court as on because, as Dodson said, getting together as often as possible increases the team’s solidarity and comradery.
Like her team, Dodson has always concentrated on doing the basics correctly and, in so doing she said, those basics become second nature to the team. In addition to doing the basics well, getting together off the court has helped each member of the team better know what her teammate will do in a game as one of the main topics in these get-togethers is basketball.
“When we are together off the court, we talk about what we would do in certain situations and, as such, become more skilled in our teamwork,” Dodson said.
From an academic standpoint, she said her favorite subjects are math and computer science because she has always enjoyed working with numbers.
“Math and computer science challenge you, and I have always enjoyed a good challenge because when you tackle something that pushes you to think and concentrate, it makes you more responsive, whether on the court or in class,” she said.
As she has always enjoyed listening to music, Dodson said she continues to use it to relax her before game time, although she has always made it as point to stretch and, as she termed it, “loosen up and be ready to play my best on the court.”
“I enjoy basketball because it is not only a highly competitive game, but one that you have to be ready to play as much mentally as physically,” she said.
Although Dodson is anxious to play college basketball at Stanford, she has put that anticipation aside as her goal now is to win the state championship for St. Francis.
“Our team believes that whatever we have done this season on the court is just building up to the ultimate prize of winning the state title,” she said.

Monday, February 06, 2017

St. Francis (Ga.) celebrates its McDonalds All Americans-Maya Dodson




                                Maya Dodson with her McDonalds All American Game jersey (Photo: MCDAAG)


usatodayhss.com, January 27, 2017

St. Francis (Alpharetta, Ga.) will experience a unique distinction at the McDonald’s All American Game in Chicago.
It is lone school this year to have two girls players selected, something that has not happened often in McDonald’s All American Game history.
One of them, Stanford recruit, Maya Dodson, a 6-3 wing, will represent the school, their families and community – many of whom were on hand Friday as the McDonald’s Hometown Heroes presented by American Family Insurance visited to present each player with her honorary jersey.
“It’s really hard for two people from the same school to make it out of 24,” Dodson said. “I’m really happy to go with my teammate. We’ve grown and become best friends throughout our high school careers. I can’t wait to share this moment with her.”
It means a lot to me to go with Maya. She is one of my best friends. We work very hard. We train together, we practice together, we spend time together on and off the court. For both of us to achieve one of our goals that we had together has been amazing.”
Dodson, ranked as the No. 11 player overall, also will get to spend time with future Stanford teammate Kiana Williams, a 5-7 guard from Karen Wagner High in Texas. Dodson will play for the East with Williams playing for the West.
“We went on the same official visit and I’m excited to build a relationship now before we get to Stanford,” Dodson said. “I want to just take everything in and have fun. It’s an all-star game so I don’t want to take it too seriously, but I also want to go out there and do what I do best —  attack and play good defense and rebound.”
The McDonald’s selection also brought the realization that their high school careers are almost coming to a close.

Texas point guard Kianna Williams ready for McDonald's All American Game


                              Kianna Williams receives her honorary McDonalds All American jersey Photo: McDAAG)

http://usatodayhss.com, February 2, 2017

Kianna Williams is faced with a great challenge at the McDonald’s All American Game. As a point guard, she has to figure out where to get the ball, given a roster of the nation’s best who are leading scorers on their own team.
“It’s like, who do I pass it to?” she joked. “I’m going to go out and have fun. I want to play my game make sure everyone is engaged and having fun also. Hopfully, the West comes out with a win.”
Williams, ranked as the No. 8 player overall in the Class of 2017, received her honorary jersey when the McDonald’s Hometown Heroes presented by American Family Insurance came to Wagner in San Antonio. She was honored in front of family, friends and the school.
The McDonald’s All American Games are March 29 in Chicago.
“It was great,” she said of the ceremony. “I’m blessed. The student body got to come out and support me. I was nervous about how many people were there. There was great energy and excitement. I’m just thankful for all the support.”
Wagner will have McDonald’s All Americans in consecutive years as Amber Ramirez, now a freshman at TCU, was in last year’s game.
“I wanted to follow in her footsteps and I’m so excited to play in the game and can’t wait,” she said, citing a number of other former McDonald’s All Americans, including Elena Delle Donne. “I’ve been watching the game for the last few years.”
She also will get to team with one of her future Stanford teammates, Maya Dodson, a forward from Georgia.
“I want to spend time with the other great players and get to know them,” she said. “When we’re competing against each in college, it will be fun to say I know them.
“I’m also looking forward to visiting the Ronald McDonald House.”
Williams also has that Texas pride, with five Texans on the West roster.
“I think Texas is the greatest state. Period,” she said. “I’m biased, but I think we have the greatedt athletes. … It’s great to see everyone’s hard work pay off.”

NAISMITH SEMIFINALIST


                       Williams one of 10 remaining for high school POY

gostanford.com, February 6, 2017

Stanford signee Kiana Williams was one of 10 players selected as a semifinalist for the 2017 Naismith Trophy High School Girls' Player of the Year the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Monday.

Williams, a 5-foot-7, five-star point guard from San Antonio, Texas, is the No. 8 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 and Stanford's first top-10 recruit since Chiney Ogwumike signed as the top player in the country in Nov. 2009.

She is part of the celebrated, fifth-ranked class for the Cardinal which also includes Maya Dodson (Alpharetta, Ga./St. Francis), Alyssa Jerome (Toronto, Ontario, Canada/Harbord Collegiate) and Estella Moschkau (Mount Horeb, Wisc./Edgewood).

A dynamic leader with a powerful scoring punch, Williams averaged 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and 2.5 steals per game as a junior for Karen Wagner High School last season. She was a first-team all-state selection for the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches as well as the Texas Girls Coaches Association. Williams is averaging 22 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals for her team this season in leading the Thunderbirds to a 23-4 record.

Ogwumike is Stanford's only previous winner of the Naismith Trophy High School Girls' Player of the Year award, taking home the honor in 2010.

The five finalists will be announced on Feb. 21. 

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Wagner’s Williams presented with jersey for McDonald’s All-American Game


Wagner senior guard Kiana Williams was presented with a jersey for the McDonald’s All-American Game during a ceremony in the school gym on Wednesday.

David Hinojosa, mysanantonio.com, February 1, 2017

Wagner senior point guard Kiana Williams was presented with a jersey for the McDonald’s All-American Game during an after-school ceremony in the school’s gym on Wednesday.
“It’s all becoming a reality right now,” Williams said. “I’m thankful for everyone’s support. It means a lot to me. I can’t wait for the game, but first we have to get through this season.”
Last month, Williams was one of 24 players selected for the prestigious national all-star game. The 16th edition of the girls game will be at 4 p.m. March 29 at United Center in Chicago. It will be televised live on ESPN2.
“It’s such a prestigious honor,” Williams said. “It means a lot to be playing with some of the nation’s best. It means a lot.”
Williams is averaging a team-best 21.5 points for the top-ranked Thunderbirds. Wagner (22-5) has already clinched a playoff spots. The Thunderbirds are tied with Steele in second place in District 27-6A at 10-2, one game behind Judson (11-1).
Williams follows former Wagner teammate Amber Ramirez, a two-time Express-News Player of the Year and a freshman at TCU, who played in last year’s game.
“Her work ethic pushed me,” Williams said of Ramirez. “I wanted to follow in her footsteps. She set the tone.”
Williams is one of the country’s top-ranked guards. ESPN has her listed No. 8 on its recruiting rankings for the 2017 class.
“It’s going to make me work harder,” Williams said. “I’m going to have a target on my back, and I can’t get relaxed. Night in, night out I have to show why I deserve this honor.”
Williams is the fifth girl from the San Antonio-area to be selected and the sixth player overall. Other girls include Ramirez, Kyra Lambert of Clemens (2015), Recee’ Caldwell of FEAST (2014), Meighan Simmons of Steele (2010).


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Open Gym Fast Break: @StanfordWBB Commit Alyssa Jerome #WeAreTeamCanada



Twitter: Canada Basketball, January 18, 2017

Click below to view Alyssa's video.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Girls basketball: Wagner’s Williams selected for McDonald’s All-American Game



Wagner’s Kiana Williams (right) drives the ball past Steele’s player during their District 27-6A girls basketball game with Steele at Wagner on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. 

David Hinojosa, mysanantonio.com, January 15, 2017

Wagner senior point guard Kiana Williams has been picked to participate in the McDonald’s All-American Game. Her selection was announced Sunday night on ESPNU.
“A big burden has been lifted off my shoulders,” said Williams, who signed with Stanford in November. “This is every basketball player’s dream. I’ve been anxious all day. This is the most tense I’ve ever been.”
Williams was one of 24 girls selected to play in the prestigious national all-star contest, which will stage its 16th edition at 4 p.m. March 29 at United Center in Chicago. It will be televised live on ESPN2. The 40th boys game will be at 6 p.m. on ESPN.
Williams follows former Wagner teammate Amber Ramirez, a two-time Express-News Player of the Year and a freshman at TCU, who played in last year’s game.
Williams is averaging 21.4 points for the third-ranked Thunderbirds, who are 18-3 this season.
Williams is one of the country’s top-ranked guards. ESPN has her listed No. 8 on its recruiting rankings for the 2017 class.
Williams is the fifth girl from the San Antonio-area to be selected and the sixth player overall. Other girls include Ramirez, Kyra Lambert of Clemens (2015), Recee’ Caldwell of FEAST (2014), Meighan Simmons of Steele (2010).
“It’s amazing,” Williams said. “I want to thank Amber for setting the bar. Recee’, Kyra, Meighan, they’ve all been factors in my basketball life. They’ve been amazing role models.”
Shaquille O’Neal (Cole, 1989) is the only area boy who has played in the game. Ten girls and two boys from the area were among 720 from around the country who appeared on this year’s ballot.
“I think this lets people know basketball in San Antonio is just as good as Houston and Dallas,” Williams said. “We get overlooked sometimes.”
Williams said her former coach at Wagner Christina Camacho, current coach at Wagner Jeffrey Odgen, former club coaches Ray Caldwell and Koty Cowgill have been instrumental in helping her over the years. She also said her brother Chancy Campbell and father Michael Williams pushed her, too.
Williams is up for another high-profile honor. Williams is one of 25 being considered for the 2017 Naismith Girls Basketball Player of the Year. The list will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists on Feb. 6.

RECRUITS SELECTED FOR MCDAAG




                  Dodson, Williams to play March 29 in Chicago on ESPN2

gostanford.com, January 16, 2017

Incoming freshmen Maya Dodson and Kiana Williams will participate in the 16th annual McDonald's All American Game on March 29 in Chicago, it was announced Sunday on ESPNU.

The future Cardinal, who signed with Stanford in November, will go against each other at the United Center. Dodson landed on the East Team and Williams on the West. The girls' game begins at 2 p.m. PT on March 29 and will be televised live on ESPN2.

This year's teams were selected from more than 750 nominees by the McDonald's All American Games selection committee, led by Morgan Wootten, committee chairman and legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach.

Dodson (Alpharetta, Ga./St. Francis) and Williams (San Antonio, Texas/Karen Wagner) will add their names to an exclusive list of 18 Cardinal women's basketball alumnae to be featured in the nation's premier high school basketball all-star event, including three current freshmen in DiJonai CarringtonNadia Fingall and Anna Wilson.

They make up half of the Cardinal's celebrated 2017 recruiting class which, along with Estella Moschkau and Alyssa Jerome, is ranked fifth by espnW HoopGurlz.

Dodson, a 6-foot-3 wing, is a five-star talent and the No. 11 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100. A back-to-back state title winner at St. Francis High School in Alpharetta, Ga., Dodson averaged 13 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks per game as a junior and was named Georgia's Class A player of the year. In 16 games this season she's averaging 16 points and nine rebounds for the 13-4 Knights.

This past summer, she won a bronze medal with Team USA at the FIBA U17 World Championship for Women in Zaragoza, Spain, making the 12-person roster out of a pool of 139 trial invitees. Dodson started all seven games and averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds, including scoring 12 and adding seven boards in the team's 65-50 win over China to secure third place.

Kiana Williams, a 5-foot-7, five-star point guard from San Antonio, Texas, is the No. 8 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 and Stanford's first top-10 recruit since Chiney Ogwumike signed as the top player in the country in Nov. 2009.

A dynamic leader with a powerful scoring punch, Williams averaged 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and 2.5 steals per game as a junior for Karen Wagner High School last season. She was a first-team all-state selection for the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches as well as the Texas Girls Coaches Association. Williams is averaging 22 points and four assists for her team this season in leading the Thunderbirds to a 17-3 record.

On Jan. 12, the Naismith Trophy announced that the two are among 25 players on the midseason watch list for the Girls High School Player of the Year award.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

SIGNEES MAKE MIDSEASON TEAM

Dodson, Williams remain in running for Naismith POY

gostanford.com, January 12, 2017

Stanford signees Maya Dodson and Kiana Williams were named to the 25-person midseason team for the 2017 Naismith Trophy High School Girls' Player of the Year the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Thursday. The 10 national semifinalists will be released early next month.

Dodson and Williams make up half of the Cardinal's celebrated 2017 recruiting class which, along with Estella Moschkau and Alyssa Jerome, is ranked fifth by espnW HoopGurlz.

Dodson, a 6-foot-3 wing, is a five-star talent and the No. 11 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100. A back-to-back state title winner at St. Francis High School in Alpharetta, Ga., Dodson averaged 13 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks per game as a junior and was named Georgia's Class A player of the year. In 15 games this season she's averaging 17 points and nine rebounds for the 11-4 Knights.

This past summer, she won a bronze medal with Team USA at the FIBA U17 World Championship for Women in Zaragoza, Spain, making the 12-person roster out of a pool of 139 trial invitees. Dodson started all seven games and averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds, including scoring 12 and adding seven boards in the team's 65-50 win over China to secure third place.

Kiana Williams, a 5-foot-7, five-star point guard from San Antonio, Texas, is the No. 8 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 and Stanford's first top-10 recruit since Chiney Ogwumike signed as the top player in the country in Nov. 2009.

A dynamic leader with a powerful scoring punch, Williams averaged 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and 2.5 steals per game as a junior for Karen Wagner High School last season. She was a first-team all-state selection for the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches as well as the Texas Girls Coaches Association. Williams is averaging 22 points and four assists for her team this season in leading the Thunderbirds to a 17-3 record.

Ogwumike is Stanford's only previous winner of the Naismith Trophy High School Girls' Player of the Year award, taking home the honor in 2010.