August 24, 2022

The Magnificent Seven: Dominance and Depth at the Post Positions


Warren Grimes

This post is on the posts: the seven players on the upcoming season’s roster most likely to play in the post positions.  That would be the four and five positions, or power forward and center.

By whatever label, Stanford has more talent and depth in these positions than any prior Stanford team.  That’s saying something – past Stanford teams had the likes of Alanna Smith, Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, Kayla Pedersen, Jayne Appel, Kristen Folkl, and Val Whiting, among others.

Here are the seven, listed by seniority: Fran Belibi, Ashten Prechtel, Haley Jones, Cameron Brink, Brooke Demetre, Kiki Iriafen, and Lauren Betts.  Each is listed on the roster as a forward or center with the exception of Haley Jones (listed as a guard).  ESPN Hoopgirlz listed each as a top 20 recruit for their high school graduation year.  Two (Haley Jones and Lauren Betts) were listed as the #1 recruit in the country; a third (Cameron Brink) was the #3 recruit for her year.

There is height – Betts 6’7”; Prechtel 6’5”; Brink 6’4”; Iriafen and Demetre 6’3” – and  this does not count Belibi who, at 6'1", has a long reach and leaping ability that allows her to dunk.

The depth is phenomenal.  Even the two players ranked lowest as high school recruits (Belibi and Iriafen were both ranked 19th) have proven amazing talents.  Belibi has started games, has high energy and is often the first off the bench.  She scores, blocks and rebounds – and she dunks the ball, which by itself puts her in an elite category.  Iriafen has played only one year, but was a clear difference maker in games such as the come-from-behind victory against Oregon in the final weeks of the regular season.  She already shows great defensive skills and refined post moves.

Then there is Ashten Prechtel.  The best three point shooter in the group, Prechtel can also board, defend, and block.  Who can forget what she did in the elite eight game against Louisville en route to the NCAA championship in 2021.  In that game, with Stanford trailing by double digits, Prechtel entered the game for the first time midway through the 3rd quarter.  She was perfect from the floor, 3 for 3 from long range, and scored 16 points in all, demoralizing Louisville big time and sealing the comeback victory. 

The two players most likely to start this coming season, Haley Jones and Cameron Brink, are (or should be) All Americans.  Jones is listed as a guard and will often be called upon to bring the ball up the court, but should not be asked to play point guard full time.  Stanford opponents will try to take advantage of Stanford ball handling, and Jones should not regularly expend her energy playing the point.  Jones creates shots and assists, often with creative drives to the interior and amazing post moves; the team needs her to save energy to do those things.  Jones has and will continue to play the four position occasionally, but is probably best suited as a versatile three.

Cameron Brink is an amazing post defender and shot blocker with great post moves.  But she too is a versatile player and may be asked to add outside shooting to her interior offense.  I can see Brink moving freely among the four and five positions (and maybe occasionally the three).

Lauren Betts is a potential future All American because of her height, interior moves, defensive skills, and ability to run the court.  There was a reason that she was the top ranked recruit in the country.  But Betts has some pretty stiff competition and must prove herself.  She will have to battle for playing time, but will be a potential major force in the five position. 

That leaves only one other post – Brooke Demetre.   Another top ranked high school recruit (Hoopgirlz No. 11), her freshman year was relatively quiet.  Demetre is 6’3” and a good outside shooter.  While she can play inside, her best opportunity may be playing in the three position.  With the departure of the Hull twins, the door is open for Demetre to assert herself.

With this post-dominant team, who will play the two guard positions?   In contrast to the seven post players, each of whom were in the top 20 high school recruits for their year, Stanford has only one player likely to play one of the two  guard positions who made the top 20.  That would be incoming freshman Indya Nivar, ranked number 20 overall and number 4 for her position.  Nivar has to be a contender for the point guard position.  Hannah Jump will be the player to beat for the shooting guard position.  Junior Agnes Emma Nnopu (as a number one defender and shooting guard?) could get lots of playing time.  Elena Bosgana, if she can defend, could get substantial playing time as a shooting guard.  These positions, however, are wide open for others as well, including red shirt freshman Jzaniya Harriel and three other freshmen (Telana Lepolo, Stavi Papadaki, and Lauren Green).  

1 comment:

Stephen Perlman said...

Brink and Jones were named to several All-American teams at the end of last season.

I would not consider Haley to be a post. She has occasionally posted up on players in Stanford's fluid offense, but so did Lexie.