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Arkansas’ best girls basketball players: Meet the state’s top sophomores

Arkansas’ top sophomore girls basketball players

By Kyle Sutherland | Photo by Tommy Land

With the high school basketball season in full swing, SBLive is looking at the best girls players in Arkansas class by class. Today, we feature the top sophomores.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list as there are hundreds of great basketball players in the state. Use the comments section to discuss other standout sophomores.

Soon, you will have a chance to vote on who you think is the top sophomore girls basketball player in the state.

Cammi Christie | Perryville | 5-6 combo guard

Christie shouldered the load with a 25-point performance in the Lady Mustangs’ 63-60 overtime victory over Mayflower in December’s Joe Mallett Classic championship game and has continued to be a major contributor as an underclassman all season. She is a threat to score from 3-point range whether with an open look or hands in her face but is also very tough in the paint. 

Jaycie Cook | Cabot | 5-6 shooting guard

Cabot has a lot of youth on this year’s team which has forced Cook, as well as multiple other underclassmen, to step up for the Lady Panthers. She has answered the call putting up 11.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 2 steals per game.

“As Jaycie's physical strength and maturity increase, so does her productivity,” Cabot Coach Jay Cook said. “She sees the floor and plays with the pace of a more experienced player. This carries over to the defensive end as well.”

Jenna Cook | Cabot |5-7 point guard

A young, but gritty, Panthers squad has made the brutal 6A-Central even tougher. Cook is averaging 10.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. She does much more than what will show up on the stat sheet as one of the team’s best on-ball defenders.

“Jenna’s passion and competitive spirit are contagious,” Cabot Coach Jay Cook said. “Playing point guard in the 6A-Central night in and out is a tremendous challenge for any player but she has shown she is more than capable of leading and producing for her team.”

AbbiGrace Cunningham | Atkins | 6-0 power forward

Cunningham has established herself this season as not just one of the premier sophomores in the paint, but in all the 3A-5 conference. Now that she has continued to develop a mid-range shot this season her progress will only continue to trend upward. She has posted multiple double-doubles this year and currently averages 15.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

“The future is bright for her,” Atkins Coach Luke McAnulty said. “One of the best rebounders in our conference and is very good at playing with her back to the basket.”

Daisy Dollar | Acorn | 5-6 combo guard

Along with being a 4.0 student, Dollar has been one of the top underclassmen in the state, regardless of class. The end of January was one of her most consistent stretches with her averaging 21.3 points per game and double-digit performances have been constant. She is very reliable at the free throw line and has shown she can score at all three levels.

Taleigha Ealy | Russellville | 6-0 center

In her young career Ealy has already developed into a force in the front court, typically winning battles against opponents not only her skill, but also strength. She also excels in track participating in the shot put. She contributed for the varsity team as a freshman and was named the Player of the Game against Van Buren following a dominating double-double performance (17 point, 17 rebounds and 3 blocks).

Alyson Edwards | Mansfield | 5-10 power forward

Edwards has been one of the top underclassmen on a young Lady Tigers squad that has just two seniors on the roster averaging a double-double with 13.8 points and 10.2 rebounds.

“Alyson has great leadership qualities,” Lady Tigers Coach Ethan Bowlin said. “She is one of the hardest-working kids in the gym and I am very proud of her and our young team.”

Brilynn Findley |Bryant | 5-7 point guard

Findley played a big role in Bryant’s victory over then-No. 3 Fort Smith Northside scoring 15 points to go with 6 rebounds and 3 steals. She was also named the Dairy Queen Player of the game following an all-around solid performance in a win over Southwest finishing with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 5 steals. 

“Brilynn is having a really good sophomore season.” Lady Hornets Coach Brad Matthews said. “With each week that passes she is playing better and better. We are looking for big things as we are in the second round of our conference.”

Hailey Francis | Mayflower | 5-4 guard

No ball handler is safe once Francis gets in the area as we have seen from her 4.7 steals per game. She is one of multiple underclassmen to step up for the defending state champions who should be in great hands for the foreseeable future. She has averaged 15 points per game this year.

“Over the course of the season she has really came into her element,” Mayflower Coach Coty Storms said. “One of the most athletic kids I have coached. Has started really attacking the basket and can shoot it from the outside.”

Wesleigh Ferguson | Benton | 5-11 guard

Ferguson has played for the Lady Panthers’ varsity squad since last season and plays both guard and forward spots depending on the game situation. She has filled up the stat sheet this season averaging 13 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2 steals shooting 48.4% from the field. Ferguson currently has offers including Arkansas State and Harding among others. 

“Wesleigh’s skill set is incredibly high,” head coach Jerry Chumley said. “Playing up during her freshman year helped her gain valuable experience.”

Kloey Fullerton | Harding Academy | 5-5 point guard

To know the extent of Fullerton’s improvement you don’t have to look any further than her continued production as the season has gone on. For the year she is averaging 12.6 points per game and hitting 37% of her shots from 3-point range but has increased that to 16.7 points per game and a very good 46% from deep in conference play. She also averaged just over 12 points per game as a freshman last season.

“Kloey can really handle the ball and score it well,” Harding Academy Coach Rusty Garner said. “Her development over the last year-and-a half reflects her growing confidence. She has a great motor and just continues to improve every day.”

Riley Gottsponer | Wonderview | power forward

A wrist injury slowed Gottsponer during the early part of the season, but things began to come together by the time conference play began. She has also had to adjust from playing a wing-type role to spending much more time in the paint as a post. She averages 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, and three assists per game. 

“Riley is a versatile player who will step into any role she is given and succeed at that role,” Wonderview Coach Alaina Riley said. “She dominates the lane on defense, allowing defenders few points, and helps her teammates handle the basketball on the other end of the court.”

Jordan Marshall | Little Rock Central | 6-0 shooting guard 

Marshall has played varsity since last season as a freshman and has really turned it up this year averaging 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. She was named as the Most Valuable Player in early December’s Great 8 Classic Tournament and was honored as the Arkansas High School Girls Player of the Week at the Downtown Tip Off Club on January 18. 

“Jordan has become more versatile for us and can play multiple positions,” Central Coach Marlon Williams said. “She is young so she is just trying to keep growing. We are looking for big things from her.”

Kaitlyn McCarn | Melbourne | shooting guard

Her older sister Kenley is putting the finishing touches on her legendary career for the Bearkatz as Kaitlyn is beginning to write hers. She has effectively contributed all season and has been rewarded being named NEA Tournament and George Kell Classic All-Tournament teams as well as helping Melbourne defeat multiple quality teams in higher classes. 

Dessie McCarty | Mount Vernon-Enola | 6-1 center 

As a highly successful team with a roster loaded with sophomores, the Lady Warhawks will be in great hands for at least the next few years and McCarty is one to watch with extremely high potential. She uses her height to her advantage rebounding on both sides of the floor who also has an improving mid-range shot.

Kayden Porter | Sheridan | 5-10 combo guard

Porter has caught the early attention of college coaches currently possessing an offer from UCA. She leads the Lady Jackets in just about every category averaging 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks, and 3 assists per game.

“Kayden is a standout sophomore that is a top-notch player both on the offensive and defensive end,” Sheridan Coach Jamison Ingram said. “She continues to put up big numbers offensively even though she goes against a box and 1 or is face guarded nightly.”

Aniya Price | West Memphis | 5-8 shooting guard

Price hit the game-winning shot on Jan. 21 handing Paragould its first conference loss that has helped keep the pace going for the Lady Devils in the 5A-East. That clutch moment happened a week-and-a-half after a 22-point performance to go with 6 rebounds against Searcy. She is very aggressive on the boards but pull up to shoot and then lock you down when switching to defense.

Amelia Rogers | Lakeside | 5-7 point guard

Rogers has burst onto the scene as one of the state’s most physical young players but has used this season to channel that aggression that will help on her overall game. She has averaged 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists per game for the Rams this season.

“Amelia is a very gifted athlete,” Lakeside Coach Jay Williams said. “She has a motor that is non-stop and plays hard every possession. As a sophomore, she is doing a terrific job stepping into a leadership role, dictating the pace of the game, and becoming a ‘Court General.’

Delaney Roller | Har-Ber | 5-9 shooting guard

Roller put everyone on notice to start the year in the second game against Harrison scoring 23 points, 21 of those from 3-point range. She is averaging around 12 points per game in conference play for the Lady Wildcats who are hoping to wrap up the 6A-West regular season title. 

Aven Sasser | Little Rock Central | 6-1 small forward

Like her fellow teammate Jordan Marshall on this list, Sasser has played varsity since her freshman year and has taken great strides this year. She has averaged eight points and six rebounds per game playing the ‘3’ spot as well as a stretch ‘4’. She handles the ball well and shoots effectively from outside.

“Aven busted on the scene a little late, but she has really begun to progress,” Central Coach Marlon Williams said. “She will grow into something pretty soon.”

Reese Shirley | Farmington | 5-6 point guard

On a Lady Cardinals roster loaded with talent, Shirley has shined shooting 40% from 3-point range, boasts a 3.18 assist to turnover ratio, and does much of the dirty work leading the team in charges taken. 

“She is a high basketball IQ player that plays with great angles, spacing, and pace,” Lady Cardinals Coach Brad Johnson said. “She has tremendous court vision and is phenomenal in transition. Very high motor and a gym rat with enormous potential.”

Anna Trusty | Greenwood | 5-10 combo guard

Trusty utilizes her length well as a taller guard who scores and passes off the dribble well. She has hit over half of her shots from two-point range averaging 16 points per game along with 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 steals.

“Anna does a great job all over the floor,” Greenwood Coach Clay Reeves said. “She is great with her anticipation on defense, rebounding, and finding the basketball. Just a great team player.”

Kynslee Ward | Mansfield | 5-8 point combo guard

Ward runs the point for the Lady Tigers on a young team that has really trended up to as high as second in the 2A-4 conference after starting 0-2 while averaging 8.5 points, 4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.2 steals per game.

“Kynslee has really grown a lot over this season not only as a player but as a person,” Lady Tigers Coach Ethan Bowman said. “She has started to show great leadership on the court and has done a great job taking on the role of being a lockdown defender and true point guard.”

Riley Whittington | Mayflower | 5-6 point guard

Also a 4.0 student, Whittington has progressed throughout the course of the year consistently putting up double-digit performances and shown tremendous consistency on the defensive end as proved by her 3.5 steals per game. She has done a great job of dishing out shots with 6.5 assists each time out and is averaging 12 points.

“Riley has progressed so much throughout the year, and I think she is finally figuring out how good she can be,” Mayflower Coach Coty Storms said. “I think everybody on our team will tell you that she makes us go.”

Kiki Williamson | Mayflower | 5-11 power forward

Of all the great young talent on Mayflower’s roster, Williamson may have the highest ceiling due to her length and ability to score inside and out. On the season she is just shy of averaging a double-double with 16 points, and 8.5 rebounds along with 3.9 assists.

“Kiki has so much potential,” Mayflower Coach Coty Storms said. “I really look forward to having her the next couple of years.”