On April 16, the WPA Bruins Tip Off will once again start up in the Pittsburgh area, running through April 18. The national girls basketball tournament features 10U teams all the way up to 17U, and will include many of the top ranked high school players in the nation.
Prior to the event, Pittsburgh Sports Now caught up with some of the coaches of the top teams competing.
Chris Dawley, who coaches the Books and Basketball program, will be bringing his squad into town in mid-April looking for some great competition.
“The competition,” Dawley said on why his team loves the WPA Bruins Tip Off. “We have had relationships with the Bruins for the past five, six years when we competed. They run a first-class event with some high-level competition, so we thought it was a great idea to come back for it.”
The team features many strong players, especially at the high school level. This list includes top-50 prospect Skye Owens, Sydney Scott, Alexis Davis, and many more.
Dawley is also working with Team Final, another top program that will be coming to town. Team Final features talented Pennsylvania prospects Jayla Robinson as well as Bri Bowen, who will both be looking for a new home in the next few years.
Coach Ashley Rivens will be coming to Western Pennsylvania with her Team Curry squad, looking to start the season off on the right foot.
“It is really about the competition. It is a great kickstart to the season. This will be our first tournament and we like to compete at a national level right off the bat. We love the competition and we love to compete against the other high-level programs.”
Team Curry has a long list of solid players throughout its 15, 16, and 17U levels, including top 2022 prospect Talaysia Cooper as well as talented 2022 player Trinity Moreland. The program will be bringing all three levels (15U, 16U, 17U) to the tournament.
One of the top programs in the region, West Virginia Thunder, will also be returning to the WPA Bruins Tip Off.
“We go to this event to start out every season because you get national-level competition right out of the gate,” coach Scott Johnson told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “I know everybody is ready practice wise, but this is great because you can see where you stack up against other programs right out of the gates. It is a national level tournament, so that is why we always start the year there.”
Johnson says over 15 of the WV Thunder’s teams will be traveling to the tournament, and that list includes many of the top players in the West Virginia/Pittsburgh area.
Coming from New York City, Dominique Nute will be bringing her New Heights squad down to the Pittsburgh area for the Tip Off.
The Brooklyn-based program has plenty of top players throughout the 2022, 2023, and 2024 classes, and will be showcasing their talent throughout the season which will kick off in Western PA.
“This is our first year traveling to Pittsburgh to play in the tip-off,” Nute said. “It is probably one of the best tournaments around to kick off the AAU season. You want to play against the best, you’ve got to go compete against them. Here, you’ve got some of the top teams in the country from each shoe circuit competing against each other. You have them all under one roof. Some of the top evaluators will be there as well. If you want to go out and make a name for yourself, you want to make sure your program is competing at a high-level, this is one of those events you’ve got to be in.”
The program is headlined by Aalyah Del Rosario, the number two player in the class of 2023 according to ESPN, as well as many more prospects.
Danny Riego, who is the head coach of the Nike Gym Rats of the EYBL, will also be bringing his squad to the Pittsburgh area to catch some great competition.
“The pandemic has made it really difficult to find strong competition,” Riego said. “The Tip off event provides us the opportunity to play against other talented clubs. We just wanna play.”
The Gym Rats feature a talented lineup of hoopers, including Ashlynn Shade, a top 20 player in the class of 2023, Chloe Spreen, a top player in the class of 2024, and Laila Hull, another top 2023 prospect with several high major offers.
Cortez Quarles, who will be bringing his Team Durant squad from the DMV area, has several players to watch out for. Team Durant will feature one of ESPN’s top ranked 2024 players Kendall Dutley, as well Zania Socka, who Quarles says is a “phenomenal talent,” and more.
“John does a great job of bringing in a lot of the top teams nationally, regardless of shoe company affiliation to that event,” Quarles said. “It gives the girls the opportunity to play against great competition all weekend as you prepare for the live period.”
The event will tip off on April 16, 2021, and come to a conclusion on April 18, 2021. More information on the tournament can be found at the link below.