Plenty of star power in girls basketball this season

Last season was a banner one for girls basketball in the bay area. Carrollwood Day won its first state title. Plant reached the championship for the first time.

That is not all. 

Keswick Christian reached the state semifinals. And Tampa Bay Tech was nationally ranked for most of the season. 

All four teams — plus a few others — have shots at not only making deep playoff runs but also winning it all. 

That optimism stems from the talent on the court. 

Four players are ranked among the top 50 in the nation in their respective classes. Several others have committed to solid Division I-A programs, making this perhaps the greatest collection of college prospects the area has ever had at one time. 

Star power

Four area players are ranked among the top 50 players in their respective class by ESPN.

Class of 2021

G Knisha Godfrey, Tampa Bay Tech

Ranking: No. 40

Class of 2022

F Janiah Barker, Tampa Bay Tech

Ranking: No. 2 (four-star recruit)

G Kailyn Gilbert, Seffner Christian

Ranking: No. 18 (five-star recruit)

F Amiya Evans, Tampa Bay Tech

Ranking: No. 47 (four-star recruit)

Top title contending teams

Carrollwood Day's Karim Nohra
Carrollwood Day girls basketball coach Karim Nohra watches his team in action.

Carrollwood Day: Though the Patriots were hit hard by graduation, they still have enough quality players to make another run.  

Clearwater: The defending Pinellas County Athletic Conference champions not only return the bulk of their lineup but also were bolstered by a few key additions.

Keswick Christian: The region is favorable for another run, which is good considering how many new faces are in the lineup.  

Plant: Kendal Cheesman (Vanderbilt) and Nya Jean (Georgia State) gave the defending state finalist Panthers a solid 1-2 punch.

Seffner Christian: The addition of Kailyn Gilbert from Tampa Prep should be to seriously contend with Carrollwood Day at the top of Class 3A.

Tampa Bay Tech: By far, the most talented lineup in the area with three nationally ranked starters.

Plant's Kendal Cheesman

Top returning players

F Janiah Barker, Jr., Tampa Bay Tech

F Marielis Creque, Sr., Fivay

F Kendal Cheesman, Sr., Plant

F/G Adina Davis, Sr., Chamberlain

G Nini Davenport, So., Seffner Christian

F Aryana Dizon, Jr., Carrollwood Day

F Zoi Evans, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch

G Liv Fuller, So., Clearwater

G Kailyn Gilbert, Jr., Seffner Christian

G Knisha Godfrey, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech

G Sydney Jackwin, Jr., Keswick Christian

F Carlee Jankowski-Warden, Jr., Mitchell

G Mikayla Jean, Jr., Northeast

G Nya Jean, Sr., Plant

G Makayla Johnson, Jr., Lakewood

G Emari Lewis, Jr., Wesley Chapel

G Taija McCullough, Sr., Zephyrhills

G Julia Miller, Sr., Robinson

G Mia Nicholson, Sr., Wesley Chapel

G Isabella Prada, Sr., Bishop McLaughlin

G Whitney Rush, Sr., East Lake

G Ava Stoller, So., St. Petersburg

G Ace Sturdivant, So., Clearwater

G/F Ta’Nauviyon Williams, Sr., Lakewood

Top returning leaders (2019-20 stats compiled by MaxPreps)

Points per game

32.1 Kailyn Gilbert, Jr., Seffner Christian

17.2 Julia Miller, So., Robinson

17.0 Sy Crowley, Jr., Weeki Wachee

16.1 Esther Jackson, Sr., Hernando Christian

16.1 Kendal Cheesman, Sr., Plant

Rebounds per game

11.9 Jania Jones, Jr., Fivay

11.8 Zoi Evans, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch

11.7 Elayza Jackson, Sr., Jefferson

11.7 Marielles Creque, Sr., Fivay

11.2 Kailyn Gilbert, Jr., Seffner Christian

3-pointers made

78 Nini Davenport, So., Seffner Christian

58 Savannah Shaffer, Sr., Fivay

55 Julia Miller, So., Robinson

50 Angelie Pena, Sr., Academy of the Holy Names

49 Brianna Gautier, So., St. Petersburg Catholic

49 Emari Lewis, Jr., Wesley Chapel

Assists per game

7.2 Morgan McDaniel, Sr., Wesley Chapel

5.8 Madison Sarif, Jr., Fivay

5.2 Taija McCullough, Sr., Zephyrhills

4.9 Faron Malouff, Sr., Riverview

4.9 Ka’Yanti Burden, Jr., St. Petersburg Catholic