Originally created 04/09/00

Girls prep basketball stars are ready for next level



HARTFORD, Conn. -- Daddies' little girls definitely got game.

The newest crop of elite high school girls basketball players, including daughters of professional athletes and more recruits bound for national champion Connecticut, were showcased Saturday at the ninth Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-American game at the Hartford Civic Center.

UConn recruit Diana Taurasi, the national high school player of the year, and Tennessee recruit Ashley Robinson were named MVPs of their respective teams after the white team's 90-68 win over the red squad. Duke had three All-Americans playing, all of whom look forward to re-establishing that program's dominance. The Blue Devils made it to the national championship game in 1999 and lost to Purdue.

"I think with us coming in, we're going to make a big impact," said 5-foot-10 guard Rometra Craig, daughter of San Francisco 49ers star Roger Craig.

Craig averaged 21.6 points and 6.3 steals for Archbishop Mitty High School in Portola, Calif., and set school records in the 100 and 200 meter dashes.

She finished fourth in the world in tae kwan do competition with a good chance at making the Olympic team, her father said.

"As a parent, you can't persuade them to do things. We've been very supportive of all the sports she's competed in," Roger Craig said. "We'll be big Duke fans."

Duke also recruited Iciss Tillis, a 6-4 forward, and daughter of heavyweight boxer James Tillis. Tillis, of Tulsa, Okla., had five points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Her future Duke teammate, 5-11 Alana Beard, had 15 points and seven rebounds.

"I'm looking forward to playing an uptempo game (at Duke)," Beard said.

Also on the floor Saturday was Chandi Jones, a 5-10 guard whose father David played with the Detroit Lions. She scored more than 3,000 points for Bay City (Texas) High and will play for the University of Houston in the fall.

Taurasi, of Chino, Calif., finished with 12 points and seven assists, with all the assists coming in the first half. Tennessee-bound Robinson, of Grand Prairie, Texas, scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

"It was awesome," said Taurasi of playing in front of what will become her home crowd. "They're just the best fans in the world."

UConn recruits Ashley Battle, of Pittsburgh, and Morgan Valley, of Colchester, Vt., also played Saturday.

Illinois recruit Aminata Yanni led all scorers with 20 points and had seven rebounds and four blocks for the white team. Future Purdue player Shereka Wright scored 13 points, and Ebony Felder, headed to Georgia, had nine points and seven rebounds.

Stanford recruit Nicole Powell scored 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the red team, and Purdue recruit Cherrise Graham had 13 points, as well as a warning for the UConn faithful.

"We're gonna come back and beat UConn's butt in the championship," Graham said.