In Play with Tom Markowski

Girls Basketball Preseason Top 25 Player Rankings: Cousino's Kierra Fletcher tops the list, Destiny Pitts is No. 2

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

Girls Basketball Preseason Top 25 Player Rankings: Cousino's Kierra Fletcher tops the list, Destiny Pitts is No. 2

Warren – Basketball is so much more than a game to Kierra Fletcher. It’s opened doors for her as person, helped her develop as strong, confident personality, and has offered her opportunities for her future she would never would have had had she not played.

Fletcher, 16, is a senior at Warren Cousino and has been named the state’s top player in the preseason by State Champs.

She’s a 5-9 guard-forward who led the Patriots to the Class A title last season. It’s the school’s first basketball state title.

“Sports teaches you discipline in the way you live your life,” Fletcher said. “Sports has a way of bringing people together. I’ve met a ton of people.

“And it’s more than just being on a team. You develop friendships that last. I have 10 or 11 sisters on the team. It’s a family. It’s like your second and third family. And winning helps to build that bond more. You have to experience those tough losses, fix those mistakes and take yourself to a different level.”

Statistically, Fletcher had a phenomenal junior season. She averaged 23 points, 10 rebounds, 9.4 assists and 5.5 steals. As a sophomore she averaged 25 points. More confident with her teammates, Fletcher didn’t have to score as much for her team to be successful.

But when placed on a big stage Fletcher welcomed the spotlight.

When Cousino defeated Detroit King, 67-65, in the Class A final Fletcher had 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists. The day before, when Cousino defeated Hudsonville, 60-45 in a semifinal she had 37 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Fletcher doesn’t get caught up in all the numbers. She has fun playing and when the fun stops that’s when she’ll stop.

“I just work hard,” she said. “I don’t put a label on it. I just love working hard and getting dirty. Challenging myself. I definitely like getting on the (court) going after the ball. Some girls want to get hurt. If you think about getting hurt you’ll get hurt doing something else.”

Fletcher, who won’t turn 17 until December, signed with Georgia Tech and has designs on majoring in public policy. Eventually she would like to work for the FBI or the CIA.

“Academics are important to me,” she said. “My life after basketball is important, and (those at Georgia Tech) can help in that. I also have aspirations in playing professionally, overseas or in the WNBA. It was a hard decision to go so far away from home but I think it’s best for me.”

Fletcher has a 3.7 grade-point average and seriously considered accepting a scholarship to Michigan. A visit to Atlanta sold her on signing with Georgia Tech.

“As soon as I got there I fell in love with the campus,” she said.

 

2. Destiny Pitts, Detroit Country Day, 5-10, sr.: A four-year varsity player, Pitts plays a variety of positions. If teams close put on her on the perimeter she’ll take her game inside. Double team her in the middle and Pitts will shoot the 3-pointer. She averaged 18 points and is an aggressive rebounder. She signed with Minnesota. 

3. Deja Church, Southfield for the Arts and Technology, 5-9, sr.: Certainly a Miss Basketball candidate, Church averaged 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five steals. Church has improved her game in many ways because she “insists on getting better” her coach Michele Marshall said. Church signed with Michigan.

4. Alisia Smith, Lansing Waverly, 6-3, sr.: A strong post player with a high skill level, Smith signed with Penn State. She averaged 20 points last season and led Waverly to a Class A district final and a 14-8 record. Michigan, Iowa and Oklahoma State were among the other schools who offered Smith a scholarship.

5. Claire Hendrickson, Wyoming, 5-11, sr.: Hendrickson suffered a knee injury in January which cut short her junior season. As a sophomore she averaged 14 points, seven assists and 3.5 rebounds. She signed with Michigan State.

6. Ellie Taylor, Midland Dow, 5-10, sr.: Taylor is one of the state’s top 3-point shooters. She averaged 44 percent from 3-point range and had a high of 10 3-pointers. She signed with St. Louis.

7. Maddy Watters, Rockford, 5-10, sr.: Watters is a showcase player for the Rams. Few teams have a guard who can match Watters’ combination of height and court sense. Her 3-point shooting percentage (40) keeps defenders honest. She signed with Central Michigan. 

8. Kamaria McDaniel, Dearborn Heights Robichaud, sr.: McDaniel, a three-year starter, signed with Penn State and is such a versatile player. She averaged 19.7 points and she can defend multiple positions.

9. Kaela Webb, Detroit Country Day, 5-5, jr.: Quite possibly the top recruit in the class of 2018, Webb is lightning quick and can score off the dribble and going to the basket. Coach Frank Orlando calls Webb “a delight to coach”. Webb committed to Marquette.

10. Breanna Perry, Flushing, 6-1, sr.: A strong post presence at the power forward spot, Perry averaged 12 points last season. She has a nifty jump hook and finishes well with better than average quickness. She signed with Temple.

11. Jordan Walker, Muskegon Mona Shores, 5-7, sr.: Walker is one of the more athletic and versatile guards in the state. She averaged 20 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and three steals. She signed with Western Michigan.

12. Tylar Bennett, Detroit Country Day, 6-3, sr.: Bennett has shown great improvement the past two seasons. She has a solid inside game and has developed better post moves. The one area Bennett needs to improve upon the post is her rebounding. Bennett signed with Clemson.

13. Rickea Jackson, Detroit Edison, 6-3, so.: Jackson averaged 24.5 points and 11.5 rebounds last season. She runs the floor well and can step out and shoot from the perimeter. She has been offered a scholarship by Georgia Tech, Florida, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State and Minnesota. 

14. Sophia Karasinski, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 5-9, sr.: Karasinski is a solid perimeter player who can catch and shoot, and create off the dribble. She averaged 14.5 points and she signed with Central Michigan.

15. Camree Clegg, Wayne Memorial, 5-5, jr.: Listed as a point guard, Clegg is a scorer. She averaged 24 points last season and is a big-game performer. Clegg isn’t shy about going to the basket either. She committed to Clemson.

16. Kyra Bussell, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 6-1, sr.: One of the top shooters on her team, Bussell is a post player who has a knack for getting herself in position for rebounds. She signed with Central Michigan.

17. Krystal Rice, Flint Hamady, 5-9, sr.: Rice is versatile player who has tremendous defensive skills and is accurate from the 3-point range. She will move from the four spot to the shooting guard, her natural position. Rice averaged 14 points last season and she signed with Indiana State.

18. Autumn Kissman, Mason, 6-4, sr.: An Association Press first team Class A all-state selection last season, Kissman signed with Oakland. Her work ethic and tenacity are the intangibles Kissman features in her game.

19. Alicia Norman, Detorit King, 5-4, sr.: A super quick point guard, Norman is tough enough to take the ball into the lane and draw contact. The spark plug on one of the state’s top teams, Norman was a major reason for King’s tournament run to the Class A final last season.

20. Jaida Hampton, East Lansing, 5-11, jr.: Hampton is a three-year varsity player and has really elevated her game this season according to coach Rob Smith. Hampton plays guard or forward and has been offered a scholarship by a handful of mid-majors including Central Michigan and Western Michigan.

21. Lasha Petree, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, 6-0, jr.: A transfer from Salem, Petree will play the wing and is an excellent perimeter shooter. She’s been offered a scholarship by Bradley, Oakland and Western Michigan.

22. Kayla Belles, Ithaca, 6-3, jr.: Belles led Ithaca to the Class C semifinals and a school record for victories (24). In the six tournament games Belles by averaged 23 points and 12.3 rebounds. She recorded a double-double in each of the tournament games.

23. Chloe Guingrich, Hudsonville, 6-0, sr.: A post player, Guingrich does well with her back to the basket. She’s a good perimeter shooter and could play the wing in college. She signed with Oakland

24. Nia Ahart, Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, 5-7, sr.: A three-year starter, Ahart averaged 21.9 points last season. She also averaged 6.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists. She signed with Colgate.

25. Alyza Winston, Muskegon Mona Shores, 5-6, so.: A point guard, Winston is highly skilled and has exceptional quickness. She prefers to pass first but she can score. Winston scored 30 points in a regional semifinal last season. She’s been offered a scholarship by Michigan State, Marquette, Georgia Tech and DePaul.

 

Others to watch

Seniors: Adrienne Anderson, Arbor Prep; Mallory Barrett, Milford; Bree Bauer, P.H. Northern; Kayla Brown, Robichaud; Amara Chikwe, Wayne; Myka Cromwell, GR Catholic; Paige Hallock, Greenville; Erin Hutt, Canton; Maddie Maloney, St. Johns; Kalle Martinez, B.C. John Glenn; Madison Micho, E. Grand Rapids; Jessica Moorman, Northville; Amanda Sipe, Bloomfield Hills; Katie Snow, G.P. North; Tia Tedford, King; Lexey Tobel, Hartland; Kaylee Wasco, Dow; Ro’zhane Wells, Arbor Prep; Cydne Williams, Arbor Prep.

Juniors: Maddie Barrie, Midland; Edecia Beck, G.R. Christian; Tera Bieniewicz, Dakota; Graysen Cockerham, Hartland; Janara Flowers, W.L. Western; Jaida Hampton, East Lansing; Mikkayla Ivy, E. Grand Rapids; Kayla Luchenbach, Clarkston; Maxine Moore, Country Day; Aazhenii Nye, East Lansing; Allison Peplowski, Williamston; Lazurea Saunders, East Kentwood; Maddie Watters, Williamston; Erica Whitley Jackson, King.