Rachel Hollivay already is one of the best girls basketball players in the Class of 2012.
Ranked in the top 10 by nearly every national recruiting service, the Heritage Academy junior has attracted interest from coaches from all over the country.
But Hollivay did something last week that made all of the scouts and coaches take notice.
The 6-foot-4 center led her Florida Essence Amateur Athletic Union team to two last-minute victories at the Nike Nationals in North Augusta, S.C., and earned a spot on the five-player all-tournament team.
The honor is even more impressive when you consider the Nike Nationals featured 24 of the nation”s best AAU teams.
“I could have played better, but I played good,” said Hollivay, who overcame some “drama” and played a key role off the bench for the Florida Essence.
Glenn Nelson, of ESPN”s HoopGurlz, wrote about the “drama” in a July 30 article titled “Hollivay”s tough lesson learned.” It detailed Florida Essence coach Kim Davis-Powell”s decision to discipline Hollivay that resulted in the center missing two games with the team at the Basketball on the Bayou event in New Orleans. Davis-Powell couldn”t be reached for comment.
The article also highlighted how Hollivay, rated the No. 6 player in the Class of 2010 by ESPN HoopGurlz, helped her team beat the favored NYC Gauchos 44-43 and the Boo Williams Summer League team 51-50.
In the first game, a defender bear-hugged Hollivay at the buzzer in an attempt to prevent her from scoring. But Hollivay made the basket and then completed the three-point play for the victory.
In the next game, Hollivay hit a key free throw and added a blocked shot on the other end to preserve the win.
“I was motivated and felt like I had something to prove,” Hollivay said. “I proved to people I have gotten better and I am putting in the work to get better as a player and as a person.”
Dan Olson, a former college coach who runs Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, a national recruiting service, has seen Hollivay play numerous times in the past few years. He knew Hollivay was an athletic player with incredible potential, but he was dazzled by the junior”s performance.
“She came to play,” Olson said. “She was a pro at times when I really watched her. She displayed some extreme athletic ability. When she was on the block she showed she can finish and catch it in traffic, and she was making mid-post jump shots facing up to the rim. The kid is a stud.”
Olson has Hollivay ranked as the No. 2 center and the 13th best player in the Class of 2012. He said there isn”t a lot of difference between many of the players in the top 10, but he said Hollivay”s play at Nike Nationals set her apart.
“She was motivated this time around,” Olson said. “I knew she was going to be good, but she really turned it up a notch.”
Olson said many of the coaches in attendance noticed. He said Hollivay will have to build on this performance with more hard work. He said Hollivay has to be more consistent in her production and to use her low-post moves and her athleticism to impose her will on games. He said she likely will receive a scholarship to play basketball at a Division I school, but that she will have to play like she did at Nike Nationals all of the time to ensure she have all of her options open.
“She has not impressed me like that in a while,” Olson said. “Do I see her play every game? No. But I know many coaches who were sitting on the sidelines who are actively recruiting her had an enjoyable experience watching her because they felt vindicated because they feel the player they saw at Nike Nationals is the player they have been recruiting. If she is not the most athletic pure center in the class she has to be in the top two.”
Hollivay isn”t sure where she will end up, but she is gearing up for the recruiting process to begin next month. She also is getting ready to start at a new school after transferring from New Hope High. The correspondences with coaches likely will be fast and furious in the coming months, but Hollivay said she still has plenty of work to do.
“I want to be No. 1,” Hollivay said. “The people who are ranked higher than me, I want to be in their position. Now that the season is over I am going to work harder to show them I can do it every time. I want to show them I am No. 6 in the nation but I need to be No. 1.”
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.