Whitfield girls’ basketball standout Aijha Blackwell has become the latest St. Louis area player to win a gold medal in international competition.
The 6’0” Blackwell was a starting guard and key player for Team USA as it won the gold medal at the FIBA U18 Americas Tournament in Mexico City last week. She enjoyed a solid week of play as she averaged 9.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists in the USA’s six victories.
Blackwell had her two best scoring outings in the first two games of the tournament. She had 13 points and four assists in a victory over Argentina and she followed up with 13 points, four rebounds and five assists in a victory over Chile.
In the gold medal game against Canada, Blackwell had eight points, four rebounds and three steals in an 84-60 victory. She knocked down a couple of key 3-pointers in the first half to spark the USA as it pulled away from Canada.
Blackwell enters her senior year as one of the top returning players in the state of Missouri. She has led Whitfield to the Final Four of the Class 3 state tournament the past two seasons. As a junior, Blackwell averaged 24.2 points a game to lead the St. Louis metro area in scoring. She also led the Warriors to a third-place finish in the state tournament.
Blackwell has been recruited from coast to coast with her final list of 12 narrowed down to defending NCAA champion Notre Dame, Louisville, DePaul, Missouri, Saint Louis U., Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Texas, Mississippi State, Ohio State, and Rutgers.
With Blackwell donning the red, white and blue, she joins the growing list of St. Louis area players who have participated in USA Basketball, joining former area girls’ stars Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word), Lauryn Miller (Kirkwood), Alecia Sutton (Parkway North) and boys’ stars Jayson Tatum (Chaminade), Carte’are Gordon (Webster Groves) and Bradley Beal (Chaminade).
Top football prospects give commitments
A couple of the area’s top prospects from the loaded Class of 2019 gave verbal commitments in the past week. Wide receiver Maurice Massey of Kirkwood gave a pledge to the University of Missouri while defensive end MJ Anderson of CBC gave a commitment to Minnesota.
The 6’4,” 180-pound Massey is a transfer from Francis Howell North. As a junior at North, he had 54 receptions for 964 yards and 13 touchdowns. The 6’3” 270-pound Anderson is back after missing his junior season with a broken leg. He will be one of the anchors of the Cadets defense that hopes to repeat as Class 6 state champions.
Liddell and McKinney narrow their lists
Area basketball standouts E.J. Liddell of Belleville West and Mario McKinney of Vashon have narrowed down their big recruiting lists to a small group of finalists. The two players were teammates during the summer on the Brad Beal Elite 17U team qualified for the Nike EYBL Peach Jam in July.
The 6’7” Liddell has a final five group of Missouri, Illinois, Kansas State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Liddell was voted Mr. Basketball in Illinois and the St. Louis American Co-Player of the Year after leading the Maroons to the Class 4A state championship in 2018.
The 6’2” McKinney has narrowed his final list to Missouri, Louisville, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Auburn, Kansas State and Virginia Commonwealth University. McKinney will be the leader for a Vashon team that should be nationally ranked this season. He enjoyed a big performance at the Nike Peach Jam, averaging 17 points a game.