Monday, August 31, 2009

40 Complaints!

This is a yearly list posted on a message board of 40 complaints from parents. I'm posting it because complaining is universal!:

Top Forty Most Common Complaints Against Basketball Coaches From Parents

1. Why doesn`t my kid ever get a chance to play? (The coach watches the player play everyday in practice but, the parent doesn`t consider that a chance.)

2. We feel like the coach is picking on my kid. (This is a classic - everyone feels that they are the only one getting yelled at.)

3. I`ve got a kid that used to love basketball but now he`s talking about quitting. (Usually applies to a player who had a history of starting and/or playing most of the time before but now isn`t playing much.)

4. Why is my kid not getting much playing time? He is better than almost all of those other kids!

5. Why is my kid not starting, he was an all-star every year up until now?

6. Why is my kid not starting, he was on an AAU team that went to the nationals?

7. The coach is killing my kid’s confidence. (Usually applies especially if their kid played well at the last level they played at but is not playing well now.)

8. My kid doesn`t get to play because of politics. We just don`t have big money.

9. The coach already has his team. He plays favorites.

10. The coach takes out my kid after one mistakes every time and not the other players. (It`s amazing how many kids think that this only happens to them on the same team).

11. The coach isn’t playing my kid with the right combination of players. (Usually applies especially if their kid is getting playing time but not playing well).

12. The players have talent but the coach doesn`t know how to use them. (Usually used against a coach who has talented but individualistic players).

13. The schedule is too weak! (Usually used against a coach if their team loses quickly in the tournament).

14. Look at the record. They don’t win enough. (Usually used against a coach that sets up a demanding schedule.

15. The coach allows the kids to shoot too many threes (Especially applies, if their kid is a post player).

16. The coach doesn’t allow the kids to shoot any threes (Especially applies, if their kid is a guard).

17. The coach should play the young kids (Usually applies especially if their kid is young).

18. The coach should play the older kids (Usually applies especially if their kid is older).

19. My kid comes out of the game and nobody tells him what he did wrong. How can he get better?

20. The coach has them do too much in the off-season "that`s why they`re burned out".

21. The coach doesn`t have them do enough in the off-season "he`s not developing the talent".

22. They don`t lift enough weights - Look how skinny the players are.

23. They lift too many weights – it hurts their shot (especially if they are not shooting well)

24. They are not playing as a team. (Applies especially if their kid isn`t getting very many shots).

25. We need nicer uniforms (or warm ups, or team trips, or…etc.).

26. Why do we have to do all of this fundraising?

27. I gave all this money and time to the Booster Club and my kid still isn`t playing?

28. My kid is a "Good Kid" and should be playing in front of those problematic kids.
27. This coach can`t win the big one!

29. The team has "no discipline". He’s too nice a guy.

30. The coach is a “tyrant”. The kids are playing scared.

31. Practices are closed. What does the coach have to hide?

32. The coach doesn`t know how to use time-outs.

33. The coach told my kid not to play another sport.

34. The team doesn’t fast break enough. (Again, usually if their kid is a guard)
35. The team is out of control. They need to set it up and get good shots (Again, usually if their kid is a post player)

36. My kid should be on the varsity. Look at how well he’s playing on the JV team. (Apparently forgetting that it is against JV players)

37. My kid should have stayed on the JV team. He’s only a sub on the varsity.

38. My kid should be getting more shots. He’s always open. ( Without realizing that there is usually a reason that he is always open)

39. My kid should be getting more shots. How is he going to get a scholarship taking so few shots? (Usually spoken by a parent who wants their kid to be ALL-STATE more than he wants your team to WIN THE STATE.)

40. The coach is aloof and does not communicate with the parents at all. (Forgetting that most conversations are about any or all of the above – is it any wonder?)

Something to think about!

Any regular reader will know that the word "Development" is used often here. I hold a "Developer" in the highest regard. However, in light of the constant bashing of summer coaches and the American youth basketball system, I want to air a few questions that I have.

In a current Wall Street Journal article that cited the evils of our current system, the following was stated:

"New Orleans Hornets forward Peja Stojakovic, who is Serbian, remembers spending four hours a day dribbling through chairs and working on defense and other fundamentals in practices."

That is great! I agree wholeheartedly that this type of training is needed. It is VERY important and should be required.( Peja plays defense? On who?)

Now here is the question, how many Peja's of the world have LED their teams to NBA titles? The answer is ABSOLUTELY NONE!!! Fact!!!

Pau Gasol was Robin to Kobe's Batman. Dirk has tried to be one of these players, groomed in European basketball factories, to lead his team to a Ship' but like others, he has failed. His best opportunity was thwarted by the Golden State warriors and their trio of basketball malcontents Baron Davis, Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson. This is one of the only times that a #8 seed defeated a number #1 in the NBA playoffs. Eilis, Davis, and Jackson are all products of the Evil Empire known as AAU.

Stojakovic himself was a auxiliary piece in the Sacramento Kings quest to earn a title. Another AAU product and supposed poster boy of what is wrong with our system, Chris Weber, was the undisputed leader and star of that team. Now, one can counter and say that Vlade Divac played an integral part in that teams success but I would have to come back with the fact that AAU- bred Mike Bibby was just as, if not more, important than Divac. Bibby was simply unguardable during the 2002 playoffs. His AAU game of ,one vs one ability, allowed him to torch opposing teams to the tune of 20 points and 5 assists. He just so happened to catch the tail end of the Shaq-Kobe Dynasty.

Now, some may say that Tim Duncan did not play in the AAU system and has lead his team to titles. I agree, but the fact remains that Tim did not hone his skills in a European style basketball factory. He was a swimmer the majority of his youth.

Another question is this, why are American players so prized in professional leagues outside of the country but vilified here?

We all know many could have-should have NBA basketball players that earn a good living playing overseas. Most every club team abroad imports former NCAA stars to help them chase a title in their respective leagues. The difference with NBA teams importing players and overseas clubs doing the same is that our NBA role players are frequently the stars on their overseas clubs.

A recent check of the leading scorers in the Euroleague list Terrell McIntyre(Clemson), David Logan(Univ of Indianapolis), Chris Warren as the 2-4 leading scorers in the league. Sometime former NBA starter, Carlos Arroyo is ranked #9 in scoring. Arroyo also ranks 6th in assists. In the NBA, Arroyo would not be considered among the ten best point guards in the league but he is probably one of the ten best PLAYERS overseas currently. One of the prime examples of coming out of school too early and AAU infamy is Omar Cook. Cook was supposed to be a perennial All-Star and 10 year vet in the NBA. He is still trying to get back there, but his Brooklyn skill set allows him to rank second the the Euroleague in assist and earn a great living as one of the best players overseas. Our NBA rejects, are still better than most of the elite players overseas. ( see NBA role player, Earl Boykins as Italys highest paid player)

While I agree with the need to institute more development and less games for young players, I think it is overreacting when some claim that our system is entirely broke. Even if it is broke, when was it working properly? Point shaving(UNC's Doug Moe), high school coaches taking money under the table(Tates Lock- Bobby Knights coach), rich boosters buying recruits(Sam Gilbert), and academic dishonesty have always been a part of the game.

( A Side Note: While recently reading "Blue Blood" about the origins of the UNC and Duke rivalry, I read something very interesting. Brawls were apparently the norm in those days. The esteemed Larry Brown started a melee reminiscent to the one that the so-called thug, Ron Artest, started 40 years later. And yes, the very educated crowd from Duke and UNC joined the fisticuffs. Apparently, time has a way of making all of us old folks forget our youthful indiscretions)

But, this era is full of ball hogs that do not play the game the critics say. The great Pistol Pete AVERAGED over 40 points a game in the late 60's. Please view the Top 10 scorers in NCAA Division 1 history. Only two played a game after 1990.Apparently, a lot of ball hogging and not sharing was acceptable back then. In fact, the Top 10 assists leaders in NCAA Division 1 history, ALL but one(Sherman Douglas 1989), played in or after 1990. So much for modern day selfishness!

Like all things, AAU and youth basketball can do things better. But, we should not act like our current players and system is the end of the world. The fact remains, our players are still the BEST IN THE WORLD.

Mike Flynn Responds

Mike Flynn is an original on the girls basketball circuit. He goes back to the 70's and is currently one of the most powerful men in the sport today. His recruitment report is used by colleges across the country and his summer events are generally recognized as being among the most respected.

Mr. Flynn posted the following response to a Wall Street Journal story about the evils of the current youth basketball system. The article has been copied, pasted and recited as fact by almost every AAU bashing coach in America. Mr. Flynn was around before the influx of travel teams and offers a different perspective on his blog:

"This is a bold face lie – the college coaches demanded this “play” model when they decided to quit the skills and drills camp circuit back in the late 80s to “watch kids play instead of camp drills.” They should not get a free pass on this as they told parents and coaches this is what they wanted, thinking they could focus on only the kids who played in a “real game.” Hence, the desire to win, play your best, and travel coaches (not AAU only) went out and started to get the best players to win on a summer circuit the college coaches wanted. Once those travel coaches won, and went out and recruited earlier for talent, those individuals became the key influencers in that young athlete’s life. The next domino in that was the ability of college coaches and agents to create “relationships” with said travel coaches of influence. Once the focus to win is primary and the time commitment for drills is secondary as demanded by the college coaches, you can not ask American basketball to all of a sudden adopt the Euro model which is set for a smaller basketball population of talent that has NO academic pressure to “go to college.” Now, everyone wants that model but without explaining what the real challenges to adoption are. They want to paint the AAU and the shoe companies in the same brush without an analysis of how we got here. The AAU had events and the teams played and practiced between Summer Camps and Local Summer Leagues. When the “summer model” changed from camps to all-out play, the AAU was a system that was developed to go play in so they get smashed for being a vehicle to give the college coaches what they wanted. Those same college coaches who were “working with shoe companies” and had influence to get the American summer model changed to play knew those new travel coaches had the connections and energy to recruit early and build relationships. Why not ”help them out” in their work by getting sponsorship for them. While that may seem ”horrible” to some, it enabled a growth of basketball talent as you can never walk away from the 10,000 hour rule in this sport either. You can complain about how those relationships between shoe companies, travel coaches and college coaches may have developed into but this is what that first domino to change the old American summer model of basketball developed now to. Do we need change, heck yes, but all I hear are issues and no one wants to offer solutions except for a web site to make money. People can complain all they want but American Youth Basketball didn’t lose in Athens nor Beijing – but that’s another tangent. Mr. Van Gundy talks about six hours in the gym. Where can you do that in America and not have to pay for it? And, who’s working with you? ghosts? In Europe those coaches are paid to work out with the talent. The only paid coaches are those few high school coaches who want to work with their kids (if the HS rules permit) or college coaches. If a Travel Coach works kids out he’s a shark. Mr. Beasley is now rewarded by a flawed system that helped him become rich without the Euro model. It’s stories like this that’s easy to read like a People Magazine cover. Real solutions are out there but will the real powers of basketball want to upset the apple cart of relationships developed these past 20 years? "— Mike

Saturday, August 29, 2009

King David-ish

Being raised in the church has ingrained me with the stories, deeds, parables and examples of Men/Women of God. My childhood preachers/teachers used the ways of prophets and ordinary folks mentioned in the Bible to help instill life long lessons into their congregations. While their lessons from the pulpit focused on the true essence of life(salvation, love, morals, Heaven), some of the figures and incidents in their teachings help describe the valor of athletes.

Now, I am not being sacrilegious or trying to desecrate the names of prophets. However, we all engage in hyperbole at times. How many times have we all seen, heard or invoked scripture to help us in athletic battles? How many times have we heard that David slew the proverbial Goliath when an underdog like Buster Douglas beats up a Mike Tyson. We all loved the moment in Hoosiers where the small school is led in prayer by a preacher who reminds us that David killed the behemoth Goliath with a simple stone, so anything is possible. The great King David would have probably respected the will, determination and toughness of Becky Hammon.

Put Becky Hammon in a lay up line with San Antonio's Sune Agbuke, Arielle Roberson and Chatavia Boone-Fudge. Then invite a few college scouts to the game. Do not give any background on any of the players and see who the scouts highlight in their recruiting prospect book before tip off. The scouts will inevitably watch the movements, body frames, and any hint of brilliance in the San Antonio high school kids. None of them will watch Hammon make a lay up and fall in love. The point is that, in a game that worships size and speed, Hammon has neither. What she does have is the last 'S'; skill. And, she is so skilled that she slays Goliaths on the regular.

We all know the story. The Philistines were led by the giant Goliath. Goliath had killed many men and invoked fear into the hearts of many. The Israelites were led by King Saul, who had to kill Goliath if he were to protect his kingdom. In comes the puny Shepherd named David. David was not a soldier by profession but had seasoned himself protecting his flock. In fact, he had faced the threats of lions and bears and fought both with success. He would have to use those dangerous encounters(practice) against the killing machine that went by the name of Goliath. Goliath stood over 9 feet tall and killed people for fun! At least that is how I always envisioned him. Anyway, I found some interesting things from that epic battle that I find reminiscent of Becky Hammon and women's basketball.

" You are not able to go out against this Philistine(Goliath) and fight him: you are only a boy, and he has been fighting from his youth". King Saul to David

Becky Hammon was not heavily recruited out of high school. She was not recruited by any of the empires of women's college basketball and ended up at the small Colorado State University. After an All American college career, Hammon was not drafted into the WNBA and had to try out for the New York Liberty. Just like King Saul, college coaches and professional GM's found it hard to look past her appearance and see the heart and passion of something great.

"But David said to Saul, " Your servant has been keeping his fathers sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and killed it. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it."

At every level, Hammon has succeeded. She won state player of the year as a junior in high school and was a prolific scorer in college. Yet still, she went undrafted and was underestimated at the pro ranks. Lets look at weapons.

King David was finally given the green light to engage the giant Goliath. Saul gave David a sword, helmet, tunic and armor. David must have felt good to receive all this stuff from the king and tried it on. He eventually declined the gear. The gear did not FIT(again we arrive at fit) him. He said " I can not go with these, because I am not used to them." David knew that he was better prepared to fight with weapons he had mastered in his professional life. Lets look at his weapons.

Staff/Rod- A staff was used by Shepperd's in biblical times to ward off wolves, wild dogs, lions and other predators. A good Shepperd would defend his flock by getting up close to a predator and beat the predators in the head with these strong sticks. Needles to say, the Shepperd would have to be courageous and tough. Fighting off lions and packs of wolves with a stick sounds challenging to me. When Goliath saw David approaching him with the staff he shouted " Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks"?

( A Side Note about a Staff: TD Jakes is the man! No one describes and uses King David's life to teach life lessons like him. I have heard him teach about the importance of a staff for a Sheppard. Many Staffs were fashioned with a hook-like top of the stick. They resembled the modern day canes that many use to aid themselves in walking. Besides helping with walking, the primary reason for the hook on ancient staffs, were for Sheppard's to tend to their flock. Apparently, sheep are not the smartest animals. They have trouble understanding that there is safety in the flock and straying away from the Sheppard is dangerous. When some thick headed sheep would wander a little too far from the group, the Sheppard would use the staff to yank the sheep back into line by its neck. Sounds like a good Sheppard is something like a great point guard or masterful coach. I guess Bobby Knight took the Sheppard role to heart when Neil Reed strayed a little too far from the flock.)

Sling Shot- A sling shot in these times are different from the ones we grew up with. We all remember a wishbone looking contraction with a strong rubber band in the middle. We would put a pebble in the rubber band and pull it back. The pebble would fly out and we would think we were marksmen. Not nearly! The sling shots of ancient times were one handed weapons that allowed projectiles to be thrown at targets with great velocity. The effectiveness of the weapon was noted in the battle. " Reaching into his(David)bag and taking out his stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he(Goliath) fell face down on the ground."

Let's rewind. A 9 foot man, armed with swords and a shield, gets defeated by a runt with a stick and a rock. David also received just a little help from God, but the picture is this; being great at using the gifts that you have will give you an advantage over those that rest on their laurels.

Becky Hammon is a runt in basketball circles. She is not fast, athletic and can be unorthodox at times. Like all players, her game has weaknesses but she uses her very developed skill set to slay opponents. Her jump shot is not a jump shot. It is a set shot that needs distance and spacing to be successful. It is a modern day sling shot. Deanna " Tweety" Nolan and her simply beautiful jump shot is the finest sword available. Nolan elevates in the face of opponents using the natural ability that she exudes. Her jumper is a fine work of art and kin the the fighting weapon of the giant Philistine. Nolan jumper is new age, high tech, effective and deadly in basketball terms. Hammon jumper is primitive in comparison. Although it is simple, it lands in the forehead of the competition. Hammon is the second All Time leader in 3 pointers made. The other top 5 players are: Katie Smith 5'11, Tina Thompson 6'2, Diana Taurasi 6'0, Katie Douglas 6'0. Hammon is 5'6 on a good day.

Becky Hammon faces giants on the regular. In a recent game against the Sparks(my favorite team), Hammon faced a line up that went 6'5( Lisa Leslie), 6'4 ( Candace Parker), 6'2 (Tina Thompson,) 6'1(Delisha Milton-Jones), and 6'0 ( Noelle Quinn). Add to the mix that the Silver Stars have their own beautiful giant is the very talented Sophia Young who stands 6'1. Hammon understands that to defeat these Lionesses, you must have the courage to defeat them up close and use your rod to strike them. Her rod is her brain. Or is her rod the ball handling that allows her to penetrate small gaps and exploit the defense? Or is it her crafty shot making ability that enables her to make lay ups from awkward angles and positions over bigger players? Whatever her rod is, she has mastered the use of it and has made millions of dollars(in Russia) using it.

Sundays game against the defending WNBA champs, Detroit Shock, was another example of her slaying Goliath. Hammon scored close to 30 points in the second half to help will her team to victory. During one overtime stretch, Hammon used her sling shot and her rod to put the game out of reach. In the one minute stretch, Hammon accounted for 9 points. First she was left wide open for a 25 foot bomb. Any true basketball fan knew that this rock was going to hit the bulls eye. She caught the pass in rhythm with no defender in a ten foot range. The Shock underestimated the accuracy of her sling shot as their scouting report forgot to mention that Becky Hammon in the clutch is almost automatic. They allowed her to bury that three and another one a few possessions later. The Shock did not wear a helmet to protect their vulnerable foreheads. And yet, a few possessions later, Hammon penetrated the key by using a crafty(very risky) split dribble against a double team. She then found her sidekick, Vicki Johnson, all alone in her spot on the wing. The pass was perfect as Johnson splashed the three. Three possessions, nine points, game over!

I wrote all of that to say this, Becky Hammon overcomes perceived weaknesses to be a great player (warrior). I am not calling the Candace Parker's of the league Goliaths. I envision Goliath as an ugly giant. Believe me, there is NOTHING ugly about Candace Parker. NOTHING!Ugly and her do not belong in the same paragraph! But, what I am saying is that the game of basketball is going towards the men's game. Big, athletic and beautifully gifted players will dominate the future of women's basketball. Britney Griner will change the battle field forever. Personally, few things excite me in women's basketball more than a Candace Parker displaying the skill set of a point guard, or a Sophia Young hitting a 1-2 dribble pull up jumper from 17 feet, or Griner dunking off of two feet vertical. However, Hammon shows all of us that there will always be a place for the player (warrior) that hones her use of weapons (although limited) to almost perfection. Hammon, like the Great King David, can be used as a role model for common size players with common physical attributes. Common players can do uncommon things if they have an uncommon work ethic and environment that nurtures uncommon results.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sune Speaks!

Sune explains why Baylor was the school for her:

After seeking God and praying to make sure His Will for my life was top priority, lots of pondering, consulting with my family, coaches, former coaches, and close friends, getting on the internet and STUDYING everything and anything Baylor-related, and taking an amazing unofficial visit, I verbally committed to Baylor. I really felt in my heart and mind that Baylor University was a perfect fit for me, my family, and all the people who have backed me since the beginning. I believe it's important not only to do the research but to make sure that the school itself is a good fit because I won't just be playing ball there,
I'll be living there and going to school there and this decision will impact my life long after my basketball career has ended.

I would like to say thank-you (along with a big "bear" hug) to my mom, aau coaches: Coach Alba and Coach Jeff and their families and my school coaches: Coach Reid and Coach Ice and their family, not for teaching me about the game of basketball, but for teaching me about life and literally being parents to me. Also I want to thank my teammates, siblings, and my other (and former) coaches who have helped me to become a better athlete and person and with whom I share this success.

sune agbuke :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

SA Dream Teams!!!

I gotta do it! I had to put together some fantasy teams from the great talent pool of players in San Antonio. If your daughter is not mentioned, let me apologize upfront. I'm sorry!!!!!;) A colleague asked me who would be on my dream team and I decided to run with it!

My Starting Five!
(Offense- 3 out 2 in motion)
PG- LenNique Brown
SG-CeCe Harper
SG-Meighan Simmons
SF- Arielle Roberson
C- Sune Agbuke

(Offense- 4 out 1 in motion)
PG- LenNique Brown
SG- CeCe Harper
SG- Meighan Simmons
SF- Erica Donovan
PF- Jessica Kuster

(Offense- 5 out- open post)
PG- Lennique Brown
SG-CeCe Harper
SG-Meighan Simmons
SF-Jessica Kuster
SF-Arielle Roberson

How about going Big!
My "BIG" 5!

PG- Erica Donavan 5'11
SG- Victoria Willems 6'2
SF- Kaela Lipo 6'1
PF- Kathryn Galindo-6'1
C- Sune Agbuke- 6"4

(open post?)
PG- Erica Donavan 5'11
Wing- Danielle Blag 6'0
Wing- Asha Hampton-Finch 6'1
PF- Kaela Lipo 6'1
PF- Victoria Willems 6'2

How about going small?
My "Undersized but DYNAMIC" Five!

PG- Olivia Patterson
SG- Julissa Garret
SG- Shana Holmes
SF- Taylor Calvert
SF-Alexis Govan

PG- Paisley Spencer
SG-Julissa Garrett
SG- Shana Holmes
SG- Arlene Cisneros
SF- Ebony Easter

Lets get Defensive!
My Defensive Five!

PG- Kiara Taylor
SG- Taylor Calvert
SF- Alexis Govan
PF- Jessica Kuster
C- Arielle Roberson

(offense= press!)

PG- Olivia Patterson
SG- Taylor Calvert
SF- Alexis Govan
SF- Asha Hampton-Finch
C- Jessica Kuster

Lets Score a little bit.
My "Never Met a Shot They Didn't Like" Five
(they are all shooting guards for a reason)

SG- Julissa Garrett
SG- Meighan Simmons
SG- Arlene Cisneros
SG- Jackie Edwards
SG- Shana Holmes

Lets play fast.
My "Lets Go" Five!

PG- Meighan Simmons
SG- Niaga Mitchell-Cole
SG- Ciara McLee
PF- Asha Hampton-Finch
PF- Jessica Kuster

( the back court from Steele is scary fast)

PG- Olivia Patterson ( Steele)
SG- Meighan Simmons(Steele)
SG-Elena Gumbs(Steele)
SF- Alexis Govan
PF- Jessica Kuster

Lets Share a little.
My "First Class Pass" Five

PG- LenNique Brown
SG- Cheyenne Berry
SG- CeCe Harper
SG- Karisa Cantu
SF- Erica Donovan

Lets hit the three.
My Zone Busters!

PG- Arlene Cisneros
SG-Michelle Rodriguez
SG- Jackie Edwards
SF- Danielle Blagg
SF- Liz Briones

That's about it. I am enabling the comment section. I disabled it do to kid bashing when I released my rankings. Please submit your dream teams. Please keep it positive

In it for the kid!

During a recent conversation with one of the best trainers in San Antonio, he mentioned that he just left an important meeting. The purpose for the meeting was to help one of the best boy basketball players in the city narrow down his numerous college choices. What I found interesting was that the participants and agenda had no other motive than coming together in an effort to help this boy make the most important decision of his young life. The attendees included:
  • The Boy- An outstanding basketball player with a dozen basketball offers at the Division 1 level.
  • The Parents- Very involved and knowledgeable parents who brought all these parties together in an effort to help give them guidance.
  • The High School Coach- One of the best coaches in the city. He has led his squad to Austin and has a plethora of talent in his program. Very good young demanding coach.
  • The Club Coach- Successful club coach that has put this boy in showcase events and helped his stock go through the roof this summer.
  • The Trainer- One of the better ones in the city. He knows his stuff and has worked with this boy since he was a pup. He has helped develop this kid into having one of the best skill sets on the city.

The main agenda of the sit-down was to narrow the boys' options down to 5 schools and to plan his official visits in the fall. The pros and cons list included criteria such as:

  • Location- Proximity to family. Weather and city demographics. College town or big city.
  • Conference- The offers range from Big 12, Big West, Southland, Conference USA, and Big East.
  • Style of Play- Teams range from run and gun to highly structured controlled systems. They tried to narrow down systems in which the boy could utilize his talents best.
  • Returning Players- They analyzed the roster for returning players playing the same position as the boy. They also looked into the star players already on the roster and the likelihood of the boy getting playing time and shots around the current star.
  • Coach- They dove heavily into the coaches resume'. They were interested in how long the coach was at his current school and the length of his contract. They also paid attention to the coaches aspirations. One coach of a mid-major is young and has recently led a cellar dweller into a probable NCAA Tournament bid this upcoming year. They questioned what happens when a major school comes knocking at his door with a fat checkbook. Is he going to stay with this boy or run for the money? Also, they wanted to eliminate the schools that had offered through the assistant coach. They felt that the head coach should offer if that school truly wanted him.
  • Graduation/Transfer Rate- They scrutinized the graduation and transfer rate of the school. They wanted to know how these programs graduated their kids and are seeking to speak to former players who have transferred.
  • Academic Reputation- Is the school a basketball factory or a respected institution of learning?
  • Alumni- When this young man hangs up his sneakers, will he have access to a very successful cooperate alumni base to help kick off his professional career? What type of jobs can he intern for and will he have the opportunities to learn from the alumni big wigs?
  • Professional Basketball Connections- Do the current coaching staff have overseas connections to help this young boy eventually play pro ball? The NBA is a known long shot but an internationally connected coaching staff can facilitate a boys' dream of getting a pay check playing the game he loves.
  • Recruits- How hard are they going after players who play the same position as this boy. And, is the kid their number #1 recruit. Also, are the going to try to recruit over his head in the future by going after more highly ranked players who play the same spot as him?

This sort of meeting and agenda helped the process immensely. The session left the team with two front runners out of the 5 remaining schools. What I respect is that, the parents chose to surround themselves with the people who had their child's best interest in mind. In a day where club/high school coaches constantly seek to further their professional careers(especially on the boys side) off of the backs of their players, this was obviously not the case. There was no uncle with his hand out promising to deliver or daddy asking for a relocation job from the schools. No SAT's were manipulated. There was no club coach getting coaching fees at camps or negotiating the kids future without clarity and full disclosure with the parents. This meeting was about the kid; because all involved were truly IN IT FOR THE KID!!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

A proud mama on Japan, Candace, and Adidas!

Mrs. Simmons was gracious enough to send me a peak into the adidas Nations trip to Japan. The team, which included SA's Meighan Simmons, was comprised of some of the best girls in the nation playing for adidas sponsored clubs. Among the big highlights was some Candace Parker time! The update follows:

As you know we are here in Japan with Adidas. It is has been quite the experience. There are few things you had written about Meighan that actually was stated by some other onlookers who we never met or had the opportunity to see her play. The team is called the Candace Parker ACES, and we were in Los Angeles first for that reason. The girls were taken to a Sparks game and met Candace Parker. WOW! A dream of Meighans to come true. The next night we held a exhibition game at Hope University. The special guest in attendance was Candace Parker herself. Meighan had and awesome game. As her mom you sometimes do not want to be over proud, but I must say, baby girl played at the next level. Candace Parker told Mr. Philips (Pops), "Who is that girl? She can play for the Sparks now". I just laughed when I was relayed the message. After the game we were approached by some people who came with her, and were told that she (Candace Parker) wanted to speak with Meighan and I personally. I laughed again! Unexpected, but grateful. When she signed autographs she clowned and shoved Meighan telling her, "You got it, keep doing your thing".

After she finished signing her associates said Candace is ready to speak with you. (quoted exactly)She smiled, laughed and as she shook my hand, said "We need her signed now, what a special kid, keep her covered, no lie she is amazing", I even had to get on the phone and make a phone call, to tell about her. WOW! she ended her sentence. She then hugs Meighan shares a few pointers and blesses her with "you are going to go far, enjoy the ride."

We arrive in Japan, and they play against the a University team who happen to the Champions in Japan. We lost, but not without a fight. The score was 110-101. Yes these girls were doing their thing. Afterwards they were shocked to find out they were only high school players. A photographer, comes to me and ask is Meighan my daughter? He further then states, she is very good, unusual girl play like she does, her moves are like a boy on the court, shes great. We look for her to be great. I am humbled by the love being shown. For me to come to Japan and have her game be validated by strangers, and Candace Parker, I am the more grateful.

D1 Dad offers recruiting advice!

The following was sent to me by the father of a recent Division 1 commit. The email includes great insight on the recruitment process. I love that he titled it the "Proactive Approach". Long gone is the day where only high school and club coaches control all phases of the recruiting process. Yes, they still play a significant part, but leaving your child's' college future in the hands of others is outdated and probably naive. INFORMATION is inexpensive but extremely VALUABLE! Simply put, no one has your daughters interest at heart more than YOU!!! Advice from the D1 dad follows:

PICKING THE RIGHT SCHOOL – The Proactive Approach

Why is picking the right school so important? Well basically you are going to be working the next four to five of years of your life playing basketball to pay for your education. Just like if you were going out in the workforce, you would want to make sure you could work with the coach (the boss), and be able to function with your teammates (fellow employees). You would certainly not go out, and get a job at a place that was not well run, and did not have a good reputation. The most important part of this equation is that the pay that you ultimately receive is the degree that you earn. How much that degree is worth, can be measured in a tangible value, based on how much it would normally cost to go to that school, but it also has an intangible value, that you will not be able to measure for several years. That would include what that degree eventually allowed you to achieve in your actual career, and life after basketball.

Sure, some kids are lucky and have several schools to choose from, and some kids have a much more limited choice. No matter what your choices, being proactive is the name of the game. If you are receiving recruiting mail, make sure you are returning the questioners. Schools want to know who you are as an individual, and the good schools are very interested in how good of grades you have. Do not disrespect a school by not sending them what they are requesting. Even if you do not think you have any interest in that school at the time, you never know, you might read something about that school, or see them play in the future, and you want to make sure they have your information.

The next step is also very important; you need to start studying the schools that are interested in you. Every major university has a website that you can get all kinds of information from. This is a great resource. For example: If they do not offer a degree plan in the subject you are interested in, you can eliminate that school from consideration. Once you have determined that you are interested in a particular school, it is time to contact them. Don’t wait on them, because you are still just a name on a list. You need to make sure you work your way up to the top of that list. The best way to do that is to show the school a mutual interest. Send an email to the coaches, and let them know you have been contacted by them, and you want to come and visit their school. The best place to start is with the coach that is designated as the recruiting coordinator. However, you always want to copy in the head coach as well. If you do not get any response by email, start calling the coaches, and letting them know your interest. Again start with the recruiting coordinator, because that is part of the job duties of that coach, and ultimately they usually are the one who arrange things like unofficial visits, and has the head coach’s ear on the subject of prospects.

Even if you are not being heavily recruited, you can still generate interest from schools by contacting them and letting them know your interest in them. This is particularly good before events like showcase tournaments that you might be playing in. Try and find out if that school will be at the event. This is sort of like recruiting in reverse. Don’t send out your information to early, as you will soon be forgotten. Make sure you follow up with schools after the event to see if they were able to see you play, and how interested they might be in you. Do be aware of NCAA guidelines on eval periods, because a school will not be able to talk to you during these times. Do not discount DIII schools and smaller schools; they can make it very palatable for you to go to school there, with academic scholarships and grants. They also have more flexible NCAA rules to abide by, and can come and see you play just about anytime. At the same time, be realistic, if Tennessee, or Baylor does not know who you are, and you are going to be a senior, chances are you are not going to get their attention at this point.

Another huge part of this process is to make sure the school is the right fit for your game. Understand the style of ball that school plays. If a school you are interested in plays a style that is contrary to how you play the game, no matter how much you have dreamed of playing there, it will probably not work. The school will also understand this, and not be that interested in what you bring to the table. So why waste time, do your homework, be proactive, and I believe there is a place for any kid out there that wants to play at the next level and is willing to do what it takes to get there.

Sune to Baylor!!!!!!

Sune shares the great moment with mom(Sheti), sister, Jeff Willems and Coach Mulkey.

2011 Cornerstone standout post player , Sune Agbuke recently committed to play for Baylor University. The 6'4 post player captured the eye of the Baylor coaching staff while participating in a Nike Skills Regional Camp in Dallas. Agbuke followed up that performance with a very strong summer for her SA Comets Elite team. Agbuke joined fellow Comet Big, Victoria Willems, by pledging to attend a Division 1 school on a full basketball scholarship.

Sune is slated to play with the dunking sensation, Britney Griner for two years. She will also be on the business end of passes thrown by the highly acclaimed 2010 Baylor commit ,Odyssey Sims. Add the former McDonald All American, Brooklyn Pope, and Central Texas standout, Shanay Washington to the mix and the Bears will definitely be in any national championship discussions for the next few years.

Congrats to the Agbuke family and the SA Comets Organization!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Great Post From Glen Nelson

The folowing a part of an article by Glen Nelson at Hoopgurlz:

I love the phrase, "It's all about the kids." I must have heard it a hundred times this past summer.

And each time it made me think.

If it's all about the kids, then why are more club coaches recruiting players than teaching players (or coaching their teams, for that matter)? One father of a younger elite prospect turned down at least a half-dozen offers from other teams during the final weeks of July. Another coach who'd been his best buddy all last year stopped talking to him after his daughter didn't switch over to that coach's team.

The father was puzzled. "Why does it seem like everyone's assuming my daughter is going to switch teams?" he asked.

Good question. I have another: If it's all about the kids, then why are many of them playing three games in a day for a championship whose name everyone, including the players, will forget the next week? Truly, if it were OK to play that often and risk injury (do the initials A, C and L mean anything to anyone?), they'd be doing it on the college and professional levels. Shoot, how often do high-school teams play on back-to-back days?

If it really is all about the kids, why are there so many bad teams playing each other in what is far from a negative-plus-a-negative-equals-a-positive equation? Yes, you had a couple dozen college coaches at your game, but how many were actually watching you play and how many were texting their colleagues about how bored they were? That's not my idea of "exposure."

Oh yeah, exposure. Remember that concept? Put kids who want to play college basketball in front of coaches who have scholarships for kids good enough to play college basketball. Does that really ever happen anymore or does the quest for winning, the recruiting, whining, incessant playing, mounting bags of ice and, of course, the poor officiating get in the way?

In spite of it all, the players just keep getting better. No, there is not a score of Maya Moores and Brittney Griners emerging every year. But there are a whole lot more players able to do a whole lot more things -- bigger athletes with heftier skill sets. Time was, you stuck the fastest kid who wouldn't get called for traveling more than, say, three times a game at the point. Nowadays, if you're point-guard-sized and don't have a decent crossover, can go behind your back and between your legs, you're probably playing volleyball or lacrosse.

But, all about the kids? Hardly. Until USA Basketball snatches up all the elite players and keeps them all summer so everyone stops fighting over them and someone starts developing them. Until the NCAA starts taking responsibility for the burgeoning number of events it sanctions, imposes geographical requirements on team makeup and makes all player data available to interested parties on something called the Internet. Until USA Basketball, the NCAA, Nike and whomever else is trying to squeeze a drop out of the turnip invests in training the coaches so they actually know how to coach. Until all that happens, it's all about everything but the kids.

Top 25 Player in the City: Complete List!

1.Meighan Simmons
2.CeCe Harper
2.LenNique Brown
4.Sune Agbuke
5.Erica Donavan
6.Jessica Kuster
7.Stephanie Whittman
8.Jackie Edwards
9.Kiante Ageous
10.Chyenne Berry
11.Arielle Roberson
12.Julissa Garret
13.Kathryn Galindo
14.Daniell Blagg
15.Michelle Rodriquez
16.Alexis Govan
17.Ciara Mclee
18.Taylor Calvert
19.Arlene Cisneros
20.Asha Hampton-Finch
21.Shana Holmes
22.Victoria Willems
23.Niaga Mitchell-Cole
24.Olivia Patterson
25.Marquisha Sparks

While I will concede that I probably missed a few, I put a lot of thought into the list. I have seen each kid play in both high school and club ball settings. In analyzing other ranking, I have observed this; there is no huge disparity among the very top players.

Take Boys 2007 High School: Kevin Love, OJ Mayo, Derrick Rose, Mike Beasley and Eric Gordon were all ranked among the Top 7. They all shined as freshmen and ended up as lottery picks. All five had solid rookie years.

The same comparison can be made among the middle and bottom of rankings lists. Is there that much difference between the 15th ranked player on a list and the 25th.

The Hoopgurlz Terrific 25 for the class of 2011 has Alexis Standish ranked #14 and Cassie Peoples #22. The club teammates for Nike Cy-Fiar Shock have different strengths and the better player is subjective to need and like, ultimately FIT! Is Standish that much better than Peoples, absolutely not! Is Standish better than Peoples period? Who knows! Some would say yes while others would emphatically say NO! What can be said with certainty is that neither is as good(upside included) as Kaleena Lewis(#2) and Elizabeth Williams(#1). I would say the same with my list. The Top 3 kids on my list have seperated themselves from the rest of the pack. After that, it gets very confusing.

What it promising about the list is that all 25 players should play beyond high school. San Antonio talent pool is growing along side population numbers. This list is intended to be a celebration of the talent, not a instrument of division!

Top 25 players in the City: #1

1. Meighan Simmons 2010

If I had to draft one player in the city to start a professional team with, it would have to be Simmons. When thinking about why she was #1, I keep returning to the opinion that she is the kid most likely to make a living playing basketball. Why? UPSIDE!!

When you think about upside, you usually think about undeveloped bigs. The philosophy goes that you can not teach size and skills can be added. While bigs like Sune Agbuke (another player that will make money if she desires) are classified as upside kids, you rarely see a 5’8 skinny kid like Simmons put into that category. Simmons has the most upside in this city and that is SCARY!!!

The Hoopgurlz #9 ranked player in the nation is a scoring machine. She will surpass the city scoring record, set by TeamXpress coach, Clarissa Davis Wrightsil, this season (she needs 343 points). No girl has ever scored 3,000 points in this city’s history and Simmons will do so this year (she needs 583 points). The Lady Knight from Steele scored 945 last season to earn her second E-N Player of the Year award.

Simmons is one of the fastest players in the nation. Her athletic ability is almost freakish. You do not often see girls who can contort their bodies and elevate in traffic the way that she does. She makes improbable moves look routine. When she gets hot, she can knock down bombs from the volley ball line. Her first step makes a joke out of most defenders and she is fearless. She plays with a chip on her shoulder. This intense court presence can be misinterpreted as bad attitude but she is such a competitor that she can not help but play emotionally.

So what is the upside to such an accomplished player? Here is my observation.

Simmons never played middle school ball. She plays in a high school back court with a good point guard (Olivia Patterson) who directs the offense most possessions. She plays club ball with a great point guard (LenNique Brown) who directs EVERY possession. She plays off of the ball in a high school system that does not include a lot of movement nor options to think the game. She plays in a club system that runs a ton of sets and does not encourage a lot of freedom to read and react to the game. Simmons is used as a designated hitter and the rest of her game can grow by leaps and bounds. In short, Simmons is still a baby in terms to actual ball handling/decisions experiences. Examples:

Let’s look at the rest of the Hoopgurlz Top 10 guards.

Odyssey Sims (#4) is the same size as Simmons. Sims plays in a High School system allows her to score a lot of points but she is also the point guard had handles the ball constantly. She plays in a club system that has little structure and she is expected to create for herself and others within the game. She makes mistakes in both her high school and club roles but all great guards have had to make mistakes to learn what NOT to do.

Bria Hartley (#5) is an inch smaller than Simmons and plays alongside the very skilled and feisty point guard, Jennifer O’Neill. Even though Hartley(youtube #14 in white) plays off of the ball with Exodus, she is constantly having the ball in her hands to make decisions based upon game reads. Hartley plays the point spot for her very successful North Babylon high school team and most offensive possessions go through her. Again, she is learning to lead a team.

Shonni Schimmel(#10) is the most exciting player in the nation. She is also one of the most turnover prone players too. Her passing ability is unmatched. When teamed with 2011 Big, Krystal Forthan(#4), Schimmel led her squad to a defeat of TeamXpress Black in Vegas. Two top 10 kids and some role players defeated a team with 6-7 Division 1 kids. The Oregon Reign goes as Shonni goes, and that responsibility and intimate ball handling time has propelled her. Wait and see how good she will be with college talent around her. Again, she has had tens of thousands of game time possessions to create.

Now, my point is this. Of all the Top 10 guards in the Hoopgurlz rankings, Simmons is the same size but the only one who plays the majority of the time off of the ball. She has yet to get the much needed reps of an elite DECISION MAKER.

Furthermore, Simmons can be the best on ball defender in the nation. Defense is not only about effort and desire but also athletic ability. Odyssey Sims is widely considered the best defender in the country but Simmons is just as physically gifted as she is. Sims plays in a club environment that practices full court pressure at all times. Her club encourages defensive aggression and fosters great lock down guards. The flip side to all the defensive wars at practice is elite ball handlers are groomed. Having Alexis Jones, Empress Davenport and Odyssey Sims full court pressuring you for 2-3 hours, twice a week will ensure that your handle is tight. Simmons club team plays a lot of zone in practice and in games so logically, her ball handling/decision making does not get sharpened in game like settings.

When Simmons gets into a college program that gives her the individual skill set attention that she needs, it will be unfair to the competition. With constant reps on a shooting machine, her jumper will be unstoppable since she already elevates unlike most girls and shoots with an “L” (like a man). When those small groups of college skill sessions emphasizing footwork and ball handling grab hold of her, who will be able to stay in front of her on the defensive end? When a college coach puts her in an environment that demands that she learns to play full court man defense with proper angles and help side positioning, how many steals will she create or have? Her upside is incredible! My decision on the #1 player came down to this, what happens when the already accomplished Simmons gets the polish and decision reps of Brown and Harper? You get a couple of P’s. Close to offensive Perfection and destined to be Professional!

Top 25 Players in the City: Top 3 Players, #2's

Who is better, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant or Dwayne Wade? How about choosing between Lisa Leslie (in her prime), Candace Parker or Diana Taurasi? You can not go wrong with any of these picks. They are all great players and the so called best is a matter of preference, need and timing. The Top 3 players in San Antonio share the same planet and a clear cut best is arguable. I have two players tied for #2, with no #3. Here is my argument:

2. LenNique Brown 2010

If I had to choose a point for guard my team, it would be LenNique by a wide margin. I simply love her game! The Wagner leader is the savviest player in the city. She is never gets rattled or intimidated. Her handle is the tightest as she faces extreme pressure during the club season and rarely gets ripped. She is a very good passer and is unselfish to a fault. I would love to see her score a bit more since she has all of the tools. Brown can get in the paint to finish with the runner or pull up on a dime and hit the elbow jumper with ease. She hits the three with regularity and she almost never takes a bad shot. LenNique is NASTY. She does not back down from anyone and welcomes competition.

I watched her go for 20 points in one half of a game against all High Major kids who were focused on stopping her. She hit threes in transition while smiling at the trash-talking bench. She darted through the press only to drop off hand wrapped gifts in the form of layups for her teammates. I saw her take on three of the most promising guards in the Nation almost single handedly and did all that she could to will her team to victory.

LenNique is as intelligent a guard as there is in the city. Both, her high school and club coaches run a highly structured system that relies heavily on few turnovers. Brown runs both systems to a T. The interesting thing is that Niques’ game is probably better suited for an open offense that spreads the floor and enables her to utilize her great handle, straight line game, polished finishes and skillful passing. All aspiring point guards in San Antonio should make it a priority to go and study Nique in action. Her small frame is probably one of the reasons that the Nation has slept on her. It is no way that she is not a Top 100 kid. When she adds range to her deep ball, she will make a lot of schools very sorry that they passed on her. She reportedly has plenty of D1 offers including BCS schools.

2. Charlicia Harper 2010
Lady Rohawks

If I had to choose one player with the game on the line to produce, it would be CeCe with no question. The Madison Maverick is the most “killer” kid in the city. Some players thrive in the clutch and ask for opportunities to show and prove. CeCe is one of those players. A summer of working on her jumper has made her offensive game more complete than any other player in the city. She has always lived in the paint with her ankle breaking handle and big strong body. She absolutely punishes smaller guards. Her spin move is almost unfair and her footwork includes crisp step-throughs and the European two-step. She is a great passer and is another kid that could be a little more selfish.

CeCe was injured this summer when her Lady Rohawk team faced TeamXpress the first time. The result was a 50 point thrashing. I wrote “How much of a difference would CeCe Harper have made? Regular readers know how much I love CeCe's game and the passion that she brings to the game surely would have made a difference. But, would she have made a 50 point difference? Probably not”.

CeCe took my proclamation that she could make up 50 points as a personal slight. She felt disrespected. So what does she do? She behaves as a “killer” would and goes out and scores 29 points and her team loses by 8 points the next time these teams met. I was right; she could not make up a 50 point difference by herself. She only had a 42 point impact on the games margin! The truly amazing thing is that she did this off of two fresh knee surgeries!!

CeCe is a probably a combo guard at the next level. While her passing and composure says point guard, her skill set and strong body screams scorer. The thing that I found most intriguing about CeCe is the way she makes others around her better. It does not matter how many times her father yells at her for passing to an unpolished teammate who constantly fumbles sure fire lay-ups out of bounds; CeCe will still make that pass. It is in her nature to make others better and she always feels that she can turn on a switch and pick up the slack at any moment. The only knock of her is that she can play down to competition. She will not have that problem in College since she is playing in the Big 12 at Kansas. Many thought that Kansas had the inside track all along but it got real interesting in July. CeCe went on a personal rampage in July and picked up offers from dozens of BCS schools including Texas. She is another kid that should be in the Top 100, easily!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Top 25 Asterisks and Additions

I am adding some side notes to my Top 25 list:

1. Top 25 snubs- These players probably should be somewhere in the Top 25:

Kaela Lipo ( Incarnate Word)- 2010 6'1 small forward. Lipo can hit the 17 footer with ease. While not the most athletic, she is a skilled scorer and possesses a wide array of post moves. Definitely a Division 1 talent and is probably a Top 10 player in the city when she wants to be. I have personally witnessed her have a 20/20 game last summer in a Club game against a roster full of Division 1 caliber kids. Lipo has reportedly chosen to leave many schools standing at the alter and not play beyond high school. The academically driven Lipo is said to be focusing on her studies.

Chatavia Boone-Fudge ( Southwest)- At 6'0 and strong as a bull, Boone-Fudge can be placed among the city's best. The superb rebounder has yet to scratch the surface of how good she can really be.

Chelsea Solis (Wagner)- the scoring guard from Wagner has a lot of spice in her game. While not an outstanding shooter, she can hit shots. She also has a creative way of putting the ball in the basket.

2. Breakout Players: These players will have big years in HS

Elena Gumbs ( Steele)- The rich just got richer. Steele will go back to State with the help of the little scoring machine from Randolf. The rising sophomore will join a line up that includes three Top 25 players in Meighan Simmons, Tayler Calvert and Olivia Patterson. Gumbs has a battery that does not run out and lives in the paint. She is a volume shooter. It is interesting to see how she will blend her talents with the most volumed shooter in the city, Simmons. Add the fact that Taylor Calvert has become a legitimate scoring threat and Olivia Patterson most likely, will enter the season unsigned and with a lot of reason to get hers. Four offensive minded kids and one ball! Interesting but exciting. One thing is for sure, Gumbs will get hers!!!

Ashlin Catlin( Wagner)- Ashlin has not played varsity ball yet, except for a few playoff games her sophomore year. Catlin is a street ball styled kid that has swagger to spare. If she can come back to full speed from a major knee injury, the Thunder birds just got that much better. I can not see a high scoring street savy baller like Catlin letting her senior season slip away. While defenses concentrate on LenNique Brown, Arielle Roberson, and Chelsea Solis, DO NOT SLEEP ON CATLIN!

Rose Maldonado ( Brandies)- I like my point guards with a tight handle, savvy mind, and fearless. Rose has at least two of those things. I first saw her at the UTSA camp and came away intrigued by her upside. The rising sophomore has decent size and can knock down the three. I love her cool demeanor and seasoned skill set. I will not compare her to one of my favorite San Antonio Point Guards, Liz Boyd, but I will say that she looks like she is cut from the same cloth. I have yet to see her against elite competition and against nasty defensive pressure so I can not say that she is fearless, yet. However, I expect a big season from her.

3. New Comers of the Years:

Destiny Ameziquita (Jay)- The incoming freshmen will outscore a good portion of the girls on the Top 25 list if given the chance. She is super strong and scores from the inside and outside. She can knock down the three and her handle is effective. To top it off, she is a skilled passer. When she works on her speed and agility, she will be unstoppable in San Antonio.

Elena Gumbs( Steele)- The previous mentioned guard will be new comer of the year for her district.

Leslie Vorphal (Churchill)- She is the only player that I have not seen. I have seen everyone else on this these lists at least a dozen times but this pick is because of reputation. Too many basketball minds that I trust have cosigned this kid so she must be the goods.

Final Shots:

As one emailer said, "Watch out for the arrows flying your way from all directions."
This was sent regarding the releasing of this list. The feedback has been very spirited.

Let me address one issue that was raised:

"It might as well be a TeamXpress List!!!"

Here we go again. A history lesson follows:

-50% of SA Express Super Team for 2009 were TeamXpress players:
(Brown, Simmons,Edwards, Donovan, Cloman)

- 4 out of 7 ( 57%) of the returning Super Team players are TeamXpress players:
(Brown, Simmons,Edwards, Donovan)

- 4 out of 6(67%) Class MVP's are TeamXpress players:
(5A/Donavan, 4A/Simmons, 3A/Berry, Private School/Edwards)

- All that accumulated talent has helped TeamXpress go undefeated against local club teams over the past two years. Please reference the #13 ranking of TeamXpress Nationally last season and the recent #3 ranking for Texas teams this season by PBR.

- TeamXpress will have more kids sign to Division 1 schools than any other club this year. That is a fact and not biased. Please show me otherwise.

I guess that the SA Express, PBR(Joey Simmons), Area Coaches(who voted for Class MVPs), and College Coaches are biased too!!!!

Here is the flip side of having so much talent. I feel that although TeamXpress is a great organization that has helped many kids, some kids get lost among so much talent. A few of the current TeamXpress kids would star on different clubs in the city and showcase their talents more in those environments. To illustrate my point, I like Victoria Willems' game a lot. I believe she has a bright future and is committed to play for a Divison 1 school. The question is, would Willems have been allowed to shine on TeamXpress top team, like she did for the SA Comets? She would have had to fight for minutes with Erica Donovan, Arielle Roberson and KiKi Ageous. Not to mention Brandi Huff, who could play at the Division 1 level and is one of the kids who would have gotten a lot more shine in a different club, in my opinion. I am not glorifying nor vilifying TeamXpress in my rankings or comments. They are the most talented club today in this city. The best players are rated high, regardless of who does the rankings!

I am reminded of a saying of a coaching buddy of mine. When he speaks of the problems with the parents of his club thinking that their child is better than they are, he simply states, " Even a buzzard thinks its' baby is beautiful"! I know that I do!

Top 25 Players in San Antonio: 4-5

5. Erica Donovan 2011

The 5’10 small forward from Jay is a High Major player. Donovan has a competitive drive that is unmatched. She dives for loose balls, sets bone crushing screens and hits the boards with a passion. She can hit the open jumper and punishes smaller players by taking them into the paint. She has great instincts and effort is never a problem with her. As she steadies her jumper and tightens her handle, the sky will be the limit. Donovan is a true joy to watch!

4. Sune Agbuke 2011
SA Comets

UPSIDE UPSIDE and more UPSIDE! The 6’4 post from Corner Stone will make money playing this game. Her size is impressive and her game is much improved. She finishes well around the basket and footwork has come a long way. She is a major defensive force as she is impossible to dislodge and her arms go on for days. Expect great things from her this year and she WILL have the opportunity of playing for a TOP 10 school.

PBR- Texas Select Teams- Top 15

Joeys Simons and his Premier Basketball Report ranked the Top 15 Select Teams in Texas. A couple local teams are included.

1. Nike Cy-Fair Shock
2. DFW T-Jack Elite
3. TeamXpress
4. Team Texas Hensle
5. Texas Fire Black
6. DFW Gold
7. Houston Elite
8. North Texas Shockers
9. Houston heat
10. Fort Worth Frogs
11. DFW 2012
12. Houstonians
13. Team texas 17's
14. SA Rohawks
15. SA Heat

Top 25 players in the City: 6-10

10. Cheyenne Berry 2010

The Lytle combo guard has arguably the best vision in the city. She is perceived as being flashy by some but the truth is that the passes she makes are advanced in skill set and will be rewarded by better athletes at the next level. She is one of the most exciting players in the city to watch and can put the ball in the basket. She is physically very strong which allows her to finish in traffic. She is also a “Nasty” player who embraces confrontation. Even though her jumper is much improved, it can continue to get stronger. She is primed to have a great senior year and positive career at the next level.

9. Kiante Ageous 2010

The D-Wade of girls’ basketball in San Antonio. The fiery wing from Sam Houston is a hand full when she wants to be. On sheer talent alone, she is one of the most promising kids in the STATE. I have seen her face some of the best kids in the nation and get hers. She seems to rise against better competition as long as it fits her style of play. Her jump stop pull up jumper is a thing of beauty. An increased focus and stronger overall skill set work makes her a High Major kid. This is the reason that she has drawn interest from a couple of Top 25 programs.

8. Jackie Edwards 2010

Edwards can score with the best of them. She is crafty in her shot makes. She shoots the three with range, finishes well in traffic and has a sweet pull up jumper from mid range. The 5'6 scoring machine from Holy Cross will have to improve on her point guard skills and defensive intensity for the next level but as for now, she is legit. One of the few players in this city that can get her own shot without a set play or screen.

7. Stephanie Whittman 2010

Whittman has not been scene on an official court since the fall of 2008 due to a knee injury. At that time she was ranked in the Top 50 Nationally by Hoopgurlz and her name was as hot as anyone’s in the city. The super strong 5’10 guard from Alamo heights is the prototypical college scoring guard. Her strong handle and smooth game allows her to impose her will on defenders. She is by far, the best mid range scorer in the city. She can play both guards positions. TREMENDOUS UPSIDE!

6. Jessica Kuster 2010
SA Heat

My last year ranking of her received the most naysayers via email. It is OK. She only went out and led Reagan to one of its best seasons in history and earned herself a full ride to UT Arlington. And she still is full of untapped potential. The mega athlete can guard at least three positions. She is fast, strong and is an incredible leaper. She has improved offensively but is not even close to how good she will be. Her first step is one of the best in the city and she eats up the glass. A dedication to college program of intense skill set work will put this kid off of the charts.

Top 25 players in the City: 11-15

These rankings are based on numerous factors including: past performance, continued development and potential. Potential is a loaded word with many implications but some players have more potential than others. This list has players that will undoubtedly sign with Top 25 Women's basketball programs to players that may not play college ball at all. It is safe to say that all of these players should earn athletic scholarships if academic and athletic progress continues. I expanded the list to 25 players due to the depth of quality players in the city.

15. Michelle Rodriguez 2010
Hands down one of the best shooters in the city. Arguably the best shooter from distance and consistency in the city. A switch of club teams did not prevent her from having a strong summer campaign. The sharp shooter from Wagner already has multiple offers from Division 1 schools on the table. As noted in her player diary, she is bright enough to understand that continued work on her handle and defense will give her additional opportunities and position her to have a great senior year.

14. Danielle Blagg 2011

The ultra athletic wing from Smithson Valley is "Special" waiting to happen. At 6'0 with a solid build, she penetrates extremely well. Blagg can stretch the defense by knocking down the open three and her mid-range game makes her one of my favorite players to watch. Blagg has the talent to play for a Top 50 school at the Division 1 level. Better ball handling skills and living basketball will position her for major things over the next couple of years.

13. Katheryn Galindo 2010
SA Comets

The Big "O" has grown up over the last year and will be the focal point of the Antonian offense this year. The 6'1 lefty is a space eater and is a tough guard for most post players. She possesses a good jump hook over her right shoulder and has a deceptively soft touch. Big strong kids that can get buckets on the block are hard to find and this fact should get her some good choices come school time. An improved face up game and adding counter moves to her jump hook would propel her even higher.

12. Julissa Garret 2010
Lady Mustangs

JuJu gets buckets! She is as tough as they come. The 5'3ish guard for Jay believes she is the best player on the floor at all times and this confidence relates to success. She is quick and persistent with her dribble drives and can knock down the open three. She is more of a shooting guard in a point guards body. As with most all supremely confident kids, her shot selection can get a little better. All in all, she should have a big year as I have witnessed her improve her left hand over the summer.

11.Arielle Roberson 2011

The kid nicknamed "Smiley" is anything but that on the court. The 6'1 lefty post player from Wagner is not the type to back down from anybody. Her long and slender body is complimented by arms that never stop. She blocks shots, boards with a passion and has counter moves on the block. Even though she plays in the post on her club team, she will undoutedbly face the basket at the next level since she already has the skill set to do so. A tighter handle and consistent 17 footer makes her a nightmare for opponents. Ranking her #11 is probably too low. I love watching this crafty shot maker play.