This pass weekend I made a discovery. No it was not that the HGSL is going to be a college coaches dream. What I discovered was the best keep secret in the state of New Jersey’s freshman class…and she isn’t from the Shore Conference. This weekend I saw the best freshman I have seen perform this year. I saw a freshman unlike any other baby in New Jersey. That’s how good Saddle River Day guard Julianna Almeida is. There is no question this young lady is cut from a different cloth. There is no question JULIANNA ALMEIDA is going to be a true ROCK STAR IN GIRLS BASKETBALL.
I watched Saddle River Day play three times last season. They have two talented guards.Paulina Paris who signed with Penn State and Saniah Caldwell another future Division One player. These two stars get the lions share of the attention rightfully so. But when things shake out, one day Julianna Almeida will be spoken about in the same glowing terms. Because make no mistake this young lady Julianna Almeida may not get the hype or attention of other freshman but for my money is the best freshman I have laid eyes on this year and folks I know all of them. She is a mix of talent, athleticism, with a physical presence and basketball IQ that can rival any guard you know. This is the true definition of a player on a entire different level that her classmates. So buckle up college coaches you are in for a serious recruiting war starting this summer.
These days every kid wants to play up in AAU. They wear the honor like a badge, some type of validation of the greatness. Often a players gets moved up in their AAU organization to create a buzz, to brand a kid or simply just to keep the kid from leaving a organization. Now in most cases everyone knows the player is not ready. But the hype machine goes into full effect. These kids play often play up because that talented young player and their parents need to brag they are playing up. If anything goes wrong, they can always say..”she is playing up” If the kid plays well they say “OMG she is going to UConn”. In the end in most cases they are trying to seen a message to college coaches that this crowned player is different from others in there class. It’s a old trick that has been around for years. It’s just another example of crowing kids without the kid getting the job. Well Julianna Almeida doesn’t need a crown. That’s because she is playing U17 and was one of the best players in the HGSL’S first weekend. A event loaded with D1 talent from Top to bottom. Julianna was as good as it gets. How good you ask? Enough to make me run back home and watch her play with her Saddle River Day high school team on video. What I found out was this, because she has a body that looks like senior in college and her game was so mature. I just assumed she was a upperclassmen. But I found out I was wrong and she was just a baby. The best baby these eyes has seen. That’s because I have seen no baby do the stuff that this future Rock Star is doing. If she played in the hyped of world of the Shore. She ‘d have too many D1 offers to count right now.. PORTAL OR NO PORTAL. That’s because she is a gift….and why I will call the “THE GIFT” FROM HERE ON OUT!
I am not in the business of giving teenage basketball players, a standing ovations…I have never given a player a standing ovation at a game. Well last weekend that changed, I watched Julianna throw the sweetest dime these eyes has seen in years. A bullet 3/4 court pass that I can say without hesitation no freshman and few seniors could throw. Her unselfishness and willingness to play team basketball is maybe the biggest reason that the U17 Shoreshots are going to have college coaches swarming to games. She simply makes everyone around her look like her a star. Despite being just a freshman, she elevates everyone’s game around her. She is no ordinary player or baby. Juliann “the gift” Almeida, plays unlike other girls you may know. She plays in the air and seems to fly at times. Her quickness and speed are just shocking to say the least. While her shooting will improve over the next few years, it more that reliable these days. Her ability to defend and pass the basketball. Well that is clearly next level stuff. Her ability to finish at the rim is truly a blessing to watch. She is a walking nightmare in transition. She has a ready made tool box, and does all these things. while not pretending to be able to play U17s .. she does all these things as one of the best players regardless of age playing U17s. “The Gift” is not hype but all game.
By the end of the summer Julianna “the gift” Almeida will be a household name across the state of New Jersey and in talked about in college basketball offices across the country. I had a chance to speak with her after her game on Saturday. She also showed me something all coaches love. A humble attitude, she’d rather talk about her teammates than herself.. that’s another gift we can talk about later. For now let’s all just agree Julianna “the gift” Almeida is not just the best freshman in sneakers, I know.. she is going to be one of the best guards PERIOD in New Jersey one day and every Division One coach will be begging for her Signature…SHE’S IS THE BIGGEST GIFT ANY COLLEGE COACH COULD ASK FOR
When-April 19th- June 3rd
Place- St. James Middle School in Red Bank
Days- Mondays and Wednesdays
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