They say the post-up player is dead, but women’s basketball is still filled with dominant post scorers at every level, including high school.
Southern California high school girls basketball — spanning the Southern, L.A. City and San Diego Sections — has a host of elite power forward and center prospects, and many of them operate primarily in the high, mid, or low post. While many elite bigs prefer to attack from the perimeter or in pick-and-roll situations, these 10 players were SoCal’s best offensive threats posting up – both scoring and passing from the post – in 2019-2020.
TOP 10 POST-UP THREATS IN SOCAL
One of the top prospects in the Class of 2021, Akunwafo averaged over 20 PPG on a whopping 56% from the field despite drawing nonstop help defense. She’s been measured at 6-5 and even 6-6, and has the length to get her shot off over anyone. Her scoring arsenal is still developing, but she’s already very fluid with both hands when she gets the ball in the low post.
Isuneh “Ice” Brady – C/F – Cathedral Catholic – SO.
One of the top few players in the Class of 2022, Brady is a prototypical old school post force. The 5-star UConn commit averaged 19.9 points per game shooting 51% from two plus three assists per game for the CIF Division I state semifinalist.
She’s 6-4, notably physical, and has locked in a lot of post fundamentals at a young age–the traditional low post package of jump hook, up-and-under, step-through, and, when denied her strong left hand, a drop-step over her left shoulder. To scare foes even more, she’s rapidly developing a strong face-up game that includes facing up and knocking down a jumper in the mid or high post.
Breya Cunningham – C/F – La Jolla Country Day – FR.
Cunningham averaged 17.3 PPG as a freshman on an eye-popping 61% from the field. A lot of her buckets come in transition and pick-and-rolls, but she’s also a major threat with her back to the basket. She’s already 6-3 and strong but also fluid, and is very likely going to grow quite a bit more. As it is, she’s already arguably the top post prospect in her class, and was the second-best player on the top-ranked team in the country.
Liz Elliott – C – St. Mary’s Academy – JR.
A high-3-star prospect, Elliott averaged 19.5 points and 2.1 assists per game for the Belles. Listed at 6-1 not too long ago, she’s up to 6-3 and maybe still growing, with exceptional agility and hands for a big. She’s great at finishing over smaller defenders and out-maneuvering slower ones in the low post, and has good awareness of defenders in traffic.
Cheyenne Forney – F/C – Colony – SR.
Forney’s 30 PPG average speaks for itself, and she also committed to play D-1 ball at Denver in the fall. She was last listed at 6-2 and is reportedly up to 6-3, with exceptional strength and mobility.
Forney is gifted at attacking the rim whether she’s self-posting in space or getting force-fed in the low post. She’s known to weave through multiple defenders with her signature spin move and finish through traffic.
Justina Graham – F – Carson – SR.
Unlike the other players on this list, Graham spent almost no time at center in high school, but was still among the most skilled and productive post threats in SoCal hoops. She averaged 20 PPG for the L.A. City Section Division 1 finalist doing work in the low post, high post, and in particular, mid post.
At 5-10, Graham would’ve been a undersized for a center, but opposing coaches couldn’t put centers on her because she’s one of the most athletic players on any court, and has a deadly mid-range jumper that makes her a brutal matchup for bigs in space. Instead, she spent most of her time bullying small forwards and power forwards with a devastating scoring arsenal of turnaround jumpers, running hooks, seals, and rangy drop-steps. She also passed out of traffic very well with a team-high three assists per game.
Kiki Iriafen – C – Harvard-Westlake – JR.
When factoring in H-W’s dominant CIFSS Division 1 title run and one of the toughest schedules in the country, it’s safe to say that Iriafen tops the list of post scorers in California last season. And maybe the country.
She averaged over 23 points per game on 56% from the field despite elite opponents routinely throwing multiple defenders at her. The 5-star recruit is a likely All-American next season and has many of the top college programs in the country at her doorstep.
Jane Nwaba – C/F – Palisades – SR.
The top player in the City Section, Nwaba was dominant in the post even as a forward playing undersized center full-time. At 5-11 with outstanding strength and long arms, the Pepperdine commit (one of two on this list) routinely trapped defenders under the rim and finished over or through them with finesse. In addition to playing bully ball, she can knock down mid-range jumpers over either shoulder, or facing up.
However, what stands out most about Nwaba’s post game is her elite passing. She rarely took 15 shots with so much shooting and overall talent around her at Palisades, but instead picked teams apart with inside-out passing as soon as defenses would start to collapse on her. If she were in a situation where she needed to average 20 PPG carrying a team from the mid and low post, she would’ve been up for the task.
Rosemary Odebunmi – C/F – Sierra Canyon – SR.
Odebunmi averaged the fewest points per game of anyone on the list as a result of playing one of the hardest schedules in the country on a team with countless offensive threats. However, she had the post arsenal to have been a first option on a lot of great teams.
She doesn’t go too far into the realm of flashy spins and fadeaway jumpers, but has excellent footwork, positioning, and up-fakes. At 6-1 with the length and strength of a center and agility of a forward, the Pepperdine commit is also a physical matchup problem for almost any frontcourt defender.
Alexis Whitfield – Chaminade – F/C – SR.
A prototypical face-up four, Whitfield is the farthest from a traditional post player by trade on this list, but she was still one of SoCal’s top post scorers when all was said and done.
She scored her 20 PPG in a variety of ways, often self-posting to play bully ball against smaller forwards or establishing high post position to isolate slower bigs. Whitfield probably won’t get many post touches going forward at Washington, but her experience taking mismatches to the rim will always give her a boost.