Jennings leads Game Time stars for MVP


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In this summer’s Game Time League, Kay DiLeo’s young Beat the Bookstore/Westport team took home the championship behind incoming Hawkeye freshmen Tania Davis and Megan Gustafson.

But there were plenty of other stars on offense and defense in the league, especially those who play for Iowa. Because Hawkeye Ally Disterhoft only played two games this summer, I decided to leave her off the list.

Here are The Daily Iowan’s 2015 Game Time awards:

MVP: Whitney Jennings, G, Iowa

Jennings lit up the league from the moment she stepped on the court. The soon-to-be sophomore put her athleticism, ball-handling, and scoring ability on full display.

She was the league’s top scorer by far, averaging 36.3 points per game. Her aggressiveness in attacking the lane often collapsed defenders on her, creating open shots for teammates. Speed, agility, and pull-up shooting in transition made coach Randy Larson’s up-tempo style a nightmare for opponents to stop.

She also showed up every game on the defensive end, pressuring ball-handlers on the perimeter and sparking the team’s strong transition offense.

However, one of her teammates had an even bigger impact for her squad defensively.

Defensive Player of the Year: Moran Lonning, G, Luther College

Lonning created a nightmare pairing with Jennings when both were on the break, but again, it all started with a strong, high-pressure defense. As great as Jennings was, Lonning’s relentless attitude made her even better.

When she left for a basketball trip to Brazil before her team’s first playoff game, the team fell to Alexa Kastanek and Company after going undefeated in the regular season.

The lack of a second elite perimeter defender changed the dynamic of Larson’s Marion Iron, as did the increased pressure on Jennings to carry the load offensively.

Newcomer of the Year: Tania Davis, G, Iowa

This one’s obvious. Davis showed all the athleticism of Jennings and perhaps even better court vision. League coaches lauded her for basketball IQ, and she played with a certain calmness about her — though she was ready to explode at any second.

She has yet to play at the college level, but she still led her team to the Game Time title and did so on a roster lacking a Hawkeye with college experience.

All-Game Time First Team

Guard: Jennings

Her team may have bowed out in the semifinals, but Jennings was visibly on another level from her peers throughout the summer.

Guard: Davis

Davis left coaches wishing they had picked her earlier, proving that her status as a five-star recruit is legitimate and leading a championship team to victories over experienced college players.

Guard: Lonning

When Lonning left, the dynamic uptempo attack Larson’s squad had all season did as well. Her performance this summer showcased that her team’s success came from the overwhelming nature she and Jennings posed while together on the floor. Without Lonning, teams could key in on Jennings and smother her ability to create open shots for teammates.

Guard: Alexa Kastanek, Iowa

I’m going with a four-guard lineup here, simply because Kastanek was too good to leave off. She led Brian Joens’ Cullen/Joensy’s to a second-place finish, serving as the primary scorer and often guarding the opponent’s best offensive player.

It’s hard to leave off Kate Letkewicz, Hannah Stewart, Carly Mohns, Claire Till, Courtney Strait, and Disterhoft, but Kastanek gets the nod here after averaging 25.8 points per game.

Forward: Megan Gutafson, Iowa

Gustafson paired with Davis to win the league title, and she was virtually unstoppable as another athlete who has yet to play in college.

Physically imposing in the paint, the 6-3 Wisconsin native grabbed 23 rebounds in the championship game. On the season, she averaged 21.2 points and 14.2 boards.

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