Dawnn Maye, the Gatorade Florida Girls Player of the Year and reigning FHSAA Class 5A girls state champion Dillard step into the national spotlight Friday when they face Oak Hill (Va.) in the ESPN RISE National High School Invitational.
ESPNU will televise the showcase live from Coppin State University in Maryland, starting with No. 1 seed Peddie School (N.J.), 23-2 and ranked No. 34 in the ESPN RISE FAB 50, against FHSAA Class 6A state champions Lake Mary (32-1) at 4:30.
Dillard (26-4, ranked No. 39) and Oak Hill follow at 6:30 with the winners advancing to the championship game on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2).
Oak Hill (21-3) will have its hands full trying to contain Maye, a Georgia Tech signee who made playoff opponents pay after being bypassed for the McDonald's All-American Game.
Maye averaged a near triple-double during the regional playoffs and put an exclamation point on the perceived McDonald's snub with 25 points, six rebounds and six steals to lead Dillard over Gulfport Boca Ciega 53-44 in the 5A state title game.
All the added attention Oak Hill will most likely pay to Maye should open up things for fellow senior guard Kianna Conner, junior 6-1 forward Lauren McGraw and T'Keyah Williams, a high-energy 6-2 junior forward.
Williams emerged as a game-changer for Dillard during the playoffs with her shot-blocking and non-stop activity on the offensive glass.
With 6-2 center Candace Parson sidelined with a knee injury, Williams and freshman Kayla Wright will be tasked with defending a pair of talented post players in 6-5 senior Arieal Johnson, a Georgia signee, and 6-3 Orsi Szecsi, an outstanding three-point shooter.
McGraw focused more on defense during the playoffs but a national television audience could be the stage she uses to have a break-out offensive game Dillard coaches are expecting.
Dillard went on a tear after losing to No. 38 Christ the King (NY) and No. 8 Bolingbrook to finish 2-2 at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix before the Christmas break.
The Panthers reeled off 15 consecutive victories before losing 68-57 to Blanche Ely in the District 16-5A Finals and then regrouping to win three consecutive road games in the regional playoffs.