Alexa Middleton wins 3-point shootout, skills contest

Riverdale's Alexa Middleton, cetner, shoots past Science Hill's Shae Smith (30) in the first half of the Tennessee girls Class AAA championship basketball game on Saturday, March 9, 2013, in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mike Strasinger)

Photo by AP Photo/Mike Strasinger

Riverdale's Alexa Middleton, cetner, shoots past Science Hill's Shae Smith (30) in the first half of the Tennessee girls Class AAA championship basketball game on Saturday, March 9, 2013, in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mike Strasinger)

Tennessee signee Alexa Middleton scored victories in both the 3-point shootout and the skills contest Monday night in conjunction with the McDonald’s All-American game. She was the first McDonald’s All-American ever to win multiple events.

“It was such a great atmosphere out there with all those people and some of my family members,” said Middleton, who averaged 18 points per game for Murfreesboro Riverdale High this season. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to pull off both, but it ended up being a lot of fun.”

Middleton dominated the skills competition, successfully executing every pass and making the all-important jump shot on her first try, completing the course in 27.9 seconds, well ahead of Duke signee Sierra Calhoun (34.2 seconds) and Notre Dame signee Brianna Turner (35.9 seconds).

Middleton captured the 3-point shootout over Recee’ Caldwell (UCLA) and Brooke McCarty (Texas). She made nine straight treys at one point. Middleton fell one point short of the boys’ winner, James Blackmon Jr.

The All-American game is Wednesday (TV: ESPNU, 7 p.m.). Middleton and UT recruiting target A’ja Wilson will play for the East team. UT signee Jaime Nared will play for the West.

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Comments » 10

ModelMaker writes:

Alexa Middleton can flat out shoot. She is a much better shot than anyone the Lady Vol's have right now. Watched her in the McDonald's All-Star game. Was impressed with the way she set up her teammates. Seems to have a lot of basketball smarts to me. She reminds me allot of Kelly Jolly Harper but I think she is a better shooter. Understand her Dad works with her allot. To me that will be a big plus for her. She needs to get on the weights yesterday. I get the impression that she is a gym rat. Was also impressed with the Nared girl. Gets her share of rebounds and has a nice touch on her shot. I was very impressed with these kids and I think both these girls will bring allot to the table for the Lady Vol's; there also good looking kids.

Allenfan writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

Alexa Middleton can flat out shoot. She is a much better shot than anyone the Lady Vol's have right now. Watched her in the McDonald's All-Star game. Was impressed with the way she set up her teammates. Seems to have a lot of basketball smarts to me. She reminds me allot of Kelly Jolly Harper but I think she is a better shooter. Understand her Dad works with her allot. To me that will be a big plus for her. She needs to get on the weights yesterday. I get the impression that she is a gym rat. Was also impressed with the Nared girl. Gets her share of rebounds and has a nice touch on her shot. I was very impressed with these kids and I think both these girls will bring allot to the table for the Lady Vol's; there also good looking kids.

I got to watch the second half, and she seems to be a bit slow. I realize everyone is trying to shine, and not once did I see anyone give up the ball to her, when she was open on the wing. I did see the 3 point display and it was pretty impressive. I know there are cuts and screens used that could get her an open shot, but as you know, we have to be concerned with defense as well. Nared looked pretty good as well, and with those long arms and soft finish around the basket, she may be ready to help out sooner rather than later. Well we need Wilson, and the commentator seemed to be pushing for Tennessee, so maybe she will watch and realize that is where she needs to be. She could be one in a line of superstars at UCONN or she could be THE STAR at Tennessee. I hope she picks wisely and out trophies start to increase.

johnlg00 writes:

Alexa seems to be a prime example of the debate between those who favor recruiting players with polished skills but who may lack some strength and speed and those who favor recruiting the best possible athletes but may be lacking in certain specific skills. This dilemma is more pronounced in the men's game but it is also creeping into the women's game.

For the forseeable future, most LV opponents will mostly be concerned with containing their formidable post game. This will give a player like Alexa a bit more freedom on the outside. Most of us will remember Angie Bjorkland who was deadly when she had room to shoot but lacked the ability to get her own shot. Alexa seems to have a much more developed overall floor game than Angie had, so when she is open she can knock down the shot but when she isn't, she can get the ball to others.

Given the fact that the LVs would seem to be fairly loaded at the perimeter, especially if Massengale and Tucker can get themselves right physically, Alexa may struggle for playing time unless her all-around game is clearly superior to that of some of the others. On the evidence so far, that may well be the case. If she has deficiencies on defense due to her relative lack of size and strength, it may still be worth it to the LVs to play zones to "hide" her until she gets stronger. Whatever they give up on the defensive end, her offensive contributions may well make up for it.

Seth Curry may be an instructive example there. Just about any NBA shooting guard could probably post up Seth without too much trouble but he really makes them pay at the other end. All of team sports is about tradeoffs; there are almost no perfect players. I will be really interested to see how Alexa fits in with the rest of the squad. Her highly-developed skill set may well cause the rest of the squad to adapt to her.

vol4life1983 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Alexa seems to be a prime example of the debate between those who favor recruiting players with polished skills but who may lack some strength and speed and those who favor recruiting the best possible athletes but may be lacking in certain specific skills. This dilemma is more pronounced in the men's game but it is also creeping into the women's game.

For the forseeable future, most LV opponents will mostly be concerned with containing their formidable post game. This will give a player like Alexa a bit more freedom on the outside. Most of us will remember Angie Bjorkland who was deadly when she had room to shoot but lacked the ability to get her own shot. Alexa seems to have a much more developed overall floor game than Angie had, so when she is open she can knock down the shot but when she isn't, she can get the ball to others.

Given the fact that the LVs would seem to be fairly loaded at the perimeter, especially if Massengale and Tucker can get themselves right physically, Alexa may struggle for playing time unless her all-around game is clearly superior to that of some of the others. On the evidence so far, that may well be the case. If she has deficiencies on defense due to her relative lack of size and strength, it may still be worth it to the LVs to play zones to "hide" her until she gets stronger. Whatever they give up on the defensive end, her offensive contributions may well make up for it.

Seth Curry may be an instructive example there. Just about any NBA shooting guard could probably post up Seth without too much trouble but he really makes them pay at the other end. All of team sports is about tradeoffs; there are almost no perfect players. I will be really interested to see how Alexa fits in with the rest of the squad. Her highly-developed skill set may well cause the rest of the squad to adapt to her.

I doubt that they adapt to her because in this era slowing down the game won't work. She can work on all the things that she lacks, tennessee zone is not good for the team cause they give up way too many threes out of it. But I do love this girls game and most definitely looked like a kelly jolly last night just a bit slower. Jaime Nared is going to be really good as well but also a bit slow so maybe we will slow it down but i don't agree that it would be good for us. both recruits will be beneficial as well as kourtney because she is a better shooter than Alexa but slow as well. Hopefully A'ja will choose UT as well we could really use her. If healthy Tucker will shine and adding wilson wilson would make it a tough duo but either way we should be okay with reynolds and carter getting better in the off season.

RLL59 writes:

Unless the tactic changes next year from what has been going on forever, TN will not emphasize picks to open up their 3 point shooters...or even 2 point shooters. When it occurs now, it's done halfheartedly and never in combinations. I didn't see the McDonalds game, but I am concerned about the observed lack of quickness of both recruits...and those comments. of course, are from Lady Vol fans, who are expected to be optimistic.

ModelMaker writes:

I agree with ya all about Alexa's quickness but I want to tell you something, that kid has already won a National Championship playing for Riverdale and that girl can flat out shoot. I saw her drain 9 straight three's without even blinking an eye, one right after another as fast as she could put them up there. But like John pointed out it's a trade-off between quickness and athleticism and her strengths. I think Tennessee needs someone that can get it inside and someone that knows how to shoot and someone that makes good smart decisions. I think this kid fits the bill.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

I agree with ya all about Alexa's quickness but I want to tell you something, that kid has already won a National Championship playing for Riverdale and that girl can flat out shoot. I saw her drain 9 straight three's without even blinking an eye, one right after another as fast as she could put them up there. But like John pointed out it's a trade-off between quickness and athleticism and her strengths. I think Tennessee needs someone that can get it inside and someone that knows how to shoot and someone that makes good smart decisions. I think this kid fits the bill.

Until she gets here and everybody can see for sure how quick or athletic she is or isn't, I will say only that there is something to be said for a smart player who knows where she is supposed to be before the play develops. Everybody used to knock Larry Bird out of college for not being as quick or springy as others who played his position, but that didn't seem to hurt him on the court too much. Basketball isn't a track meet or a weight-lifting contest. There should always be a place for a player who just, you know, plays the game.

Theo writes:

in response to RLL59:

Unless the tactic changes next year from what has been going on forever, TN will not emphasize picks to open up their 3 point shooters...or even 2 point shooters. When it occurs now, it's done halfheartedly and never in combinations. I didn't see the McDonalds game, but I am concerned about the observed lack of quickness of both recruits...and those comments. of course, are from Lady Vol fans, who are expected to be optimistic.

I trust our Vol fans who saw the game but Alexa most have some speed because she won the skills contest by like seven seconds. I guess the skills contest involved dribbling and passing. Perhaps she will have good situational speed.

MaxVolFan writes:

We have talent now , we have talent coming in, we have possible PG top 5 talent coming for 2015. There has to be some changes in the coaching tactics and conditioning and even media exposure with this team. I know the media has to have there interviews after the games and all but it seemed to me there was too much for the players to handle this yr.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Theo:

I trust our Vol fans who saw the game but Alexa most have some speed because she won the skills contest by like seven seconds. I guess the skills contest involved dribbling and passing. Perhaps she will have good situational speed.

Sorry to be getting back on this so late, but that is exactly what I was getting at. I like that term "situational speed". A player who knows the game well enough to see situations developing is not likely to ever be so far out of position that she can't get where she needs to be with a few steps. A fast player who doesn't know the game well is always reacting to what HAS happened and relies on her speed to catch up instead of correctly anticipating what WILL happen and being in the right place when it DOES happen. For the former type of player, great speed just means that she can get farther in the wrong direction if she makes a false initial step.

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