Friday, April 30, 2010

More Signings!

- Ciara McLee has reportedly committed to Jacksonville University on a full basketball scholarship. According to her club coach, McLee went on a visit to Jacksonville on Tuesday and will sign next week. The Dolphins are a Division 1 institution and member of the Atlantic Sun Conference.

- Former Wagner guard Jessica Sommers has reportedly committed to Southeastern Louisiana . The 2007 grad will play in the Southland Conference. Her commitment gives the 2007 Wagner Thunderbirds a total of six Division 1 players on that roster. BreAnna Brock(Mizzou), Amber Roberson(UT-volleyball but numerous D1 basketball offers), LenNique Brown (USC), Sajoiya Griffin(San Diego St.), Michelle Rodriguez(UTA) and Sommers all combined to lead Wagner to it's only state trip.

-Antonian/SA Comets Elite Big, Kathryn Galindo will reportedly join former high school teammate, Liz Boyd, at St. Mary next season. Galindo is reportedly signing her letter of intent today.

- Genise Pressley, Clemens/SA Lady Rohawks, will attend Concordia University in Austin next year. Pressley committed to the college earlier this week and will sign soon.

Congrats to all of these young ladies!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

More happenings!!

- Meighan Simmons is doing her best P. Diddy impression because she "cant stop won't stop". As if earning co-MVP of the McDonald's All-American game in 15 minutes of play was not enough, she was recently invited to tryout for the United States 18u team. The military kid that she is has the opportunity to represent her country if she makes the team. Tryouts are June 8-11 and the actual games are June 23-27. Go get'em Meighan!

- As one door closes, another one opens. This old proverb tells the story of two SA kids and former teamates. When Wagner pg LenNique Brown chose USC over San Diego State last fall, the Aztec coaching staff asked Wagner coach Tina Camacho to keep them in mind if she knew of any good available point guards. Camacho coached a pretty good one a couple of years ago. Sajoyia Griffin helped lead the Thunderbirds to State a couple of years ago in a backcourt that featured Michelle Rodriguez and LenNique Brown. Both Brown and Rodriguez(UTA) are signed sealed and delivered to the D1 ranks. Add Griffin to that D1 mix as she just committed to San Diego State. Grifiin has apparently played well enough at South Plains JC that her skills warrant a stay in sunny Southern California next season. Camacho will have not one but two play makers in the Golden State next season. Congrats to Sajoyia!!!!

Sierra Felan Event Sidenotes!

-C.B.S.(College Bound Seniors)- Jeff Willems, former SA Comets Elite administrator, had an ingenious idea. He wanted to invite signed and committed seniors from all over San Antonio to join one group with the ultimate goal of getting prepared for college. These girls would work out with a strength and conditioning coach to ensure that the physical demands of college basketball would not be a surprise to the local kids next fall. These girls would know that every girl in the group is like minded and focused on getting better for college. This group would be inexpensive and meet bi-weekly to train. A strength and conditioning coach of a professional team would instruct the players in a safe and organized setting. When he emailed me the ideal, I thought it was brilliant. Except one thing, some club directors would put club affiliation over the best interest of SA basketball and would try to prevent the effort. They would use scare tactics to dissuade kids from joining the “training club”. It took this type of event to overcome the fear mongering. Kids joined CBS for this event and the event was better for it. How about this lineup: CeCe Harper, Jessica Kuster, Sune Agbuke, Cearra Booker, Marquisha Sparks, Michelle Rodriguez, Victoria Willems , Chelsea Solis, and Kiante Ageous, Kathryn Galindo, and oh yell, LenNique Brown.

Watching these kids play together was a young players dream. The ball movement and chemistry was surprisingly sharp. In one particular game, three consecutive possessions featured wide open lay ups, proceeded by a clinic in ball and body movement as the ball never touched the floor. No sets and no And 1 mix tape dribbling shows. The ball was inbounded and moved effortlessly up the court as synchronized as teams that have been playing together forever. Make no mistake about it, watching LenNique Brown hit defenders with a wicked crossover for a dime to a slashing Kuster was exciting. Or watching Cece Harper take a rebound coast to coast and throw a no look bounce pass to Michelle Rodriguez only to have the ultra athletic KiKi Ageous swoop in to intercept it for a high flying score was impressive.

The parents of these stars deserve a lot of credit. With the possibility of injury looming over every signed player, they allowed their kids to go out and play! Some would call their decisions foolhardy. Others would call it the right thing to do. To us spectators, we are happy to have seen this group in action.

-Coaches- KiKi Tayler had a huge event at the Deep South Classic according her her club coach, Charlie Harper. The Lady Rohawk coach was getting text messages and emails from college coaches about her performances as we sat at lunch last week. When KiKi wanted to participate in the event, he gave her his blessing and she suited up for the SA Storm and helped them reach the championship game.

Wagner Coach Christina Camacho called me the day before the event and said UTA signee ,Michelle Rodriguez wanted to find a team to play with in the event. Camacho was trying to find a team for her former star guard to suit up with. Rodriguez was apparently excited at the opportunity of being part of such a good cause. As described earlier, Rodriguez eventually took her lethal jumper to the CBS team for the weekend. The call from her high school coach tells you all you need to know about Camacho in regards to her caring for her kids. She is still looking out for her girls and proactively trying to help them, even after they have exhausted their HS eligibility and can do no more for her basketball wise.

SA Roadrunner coach, John Seaton was outgunned. He took his team full of kids who play the game for the love of it up against CBS in the semis. Coach Seaton is a stalwart on the local basketball scene as he runs both boys and girls programs. His organization helps so many at risk kids that he comes out of his own pockets constantly. EVERY club coach pays/donates out of their own pockets at some point but most do so with something in return expected. The ones that always brag about how giving they are, usually have agendas such as résumé building in mind. Seaton pays for kids that in all likely hood will not be starring on any D1 rosters in the future. He is not aiming to claim that he got so and so signed and was altruistic enough to pay for them too. He is apparently doing it because he is able to do so and his kids are able to benefit because of it. The thing that I admired most this weekend was the attitude that he instills in his kids. Even though they were overmatched, they fought. They refused to back down and throw in the towel. This perseverance and “never give up attitude” is a an important life skill that he teaches his kids. I have seen coaches with D1 kids on their rosters forfeit games instead of facing tough opponents . Compare that to John Seaton who played valiantly against a roster full of college kids. Kudos to Coach Seaton!

Besides the obvious stars on the CBS roster, the event had some inspiring performances.

Recee’ Caldwell (SA Finest/Nike Cy-Fair Shock)- Simply put, the 8th grader put on a show on Saturday against the ST Hoyas. In a game against upperclassmen All-District selections and highly recruited kids, The 13 year old kid for Tejeda was the brightest star on the floor. Here are the facts:

24 points in less than 12 minutes of play.
8-10 field goals (7-9 3point field goals)
4 assists( 1 turnover)
Final Score- Recee’ Caldwell -24 South Texas Hoyas -30

The fashion that she did it in was more impressive. She came of off the bench to hit 5 three pointers in the first quarter. She did this with shots in transition, shots off of the dribble,shots in the faces of defenders and a couple shots from the volleyball line! Not one of her 6 first half three pointers touched rim as they all dropped in, nothing but net. The second half watched her use adept ball handling and savvy foot fakes to render the defense of one of the fastest kids in the city helpless. Her most impressive play was a fake dribble hand off. Caldwell called for a dribble hand off for her teammate, knowing that her defender was switching it. As her teammate approached her, she recognized the switch and split a soft double team with a low crossover dribble. She then pulled up for a left handed floater(her weak hand) over the outstretched arms of a 6 foot defender. AND 1!!! She scored the basket and hit the free throw. All her points came in the three point fashion. Not bad for a kid who still has her baby teeth! Still more impressive was that she had this kind of performance with a severely bruised foot. Hopefully the foot will not keep her out of the Nike Regional Skills Academy, which she is set to attend this upcoming weekend as one of the few 8th graders invited.

Jessica Kuster- Since her former club team rarely played locally, most fans did not get a full appreciation of Kuster in the club setting. While on the court with terrific athletes like KiKi Ageous and LenNique Brown, Kusters athletic ability took a back seat to none. Watching her run the court and finish extremely difficult passes was a treat. Her strides are gazelle like and her second jump is what separates her from most other Bigs. She definitely has the ability to guard 3-4 positions at the next level.

Danielle Blagg- The ST Hoyas wing had a huge event last weekend at the Deep South Classic. Former WNBA player and current South Carolina asst coach, Nikki McCray was one of many coaches who was impressed by Blagg and commented on her improvement from a year ago. Blagg picked up offers from 3 D1 colleges due to her play in the Deep South Classic. She was also impressive in this event while showing off her increased range and ability to score off of the bounce.

SA Finest 2013’s- Holding the ST Hoyas, a team featuring at least 3 D1 prospects , to 30 points was impressive. The freshmen followed that up by holding a team featuring scoring machine Jackie Woods (St Marys) Maretta Stubbs (OLLU) and KiKi Taylor to 36 points. This was done primarily playing man defense with zone and man presses thrown into the mix. They followed up a very successful showing at the Heart of Texas, where they went 3-2 and played up two grades, by playing up in this event against seniors, some of them already signed. Lacking legitimate Bigs, this group of young ladies execute, defend and out will teams. All District Boerne Champion freshmen Brooke Allemand and Heather Hormuth , New Comer of the Year from Judson “LB” Brown, and Antonian wing Jackie Anderson played well throughout the event.

Mykel Costley(SA Comets)- Coach Cavin Leonard is doing a great job at developing the gentle giant. The 6'1 8th grader is steadily improving and living up to her vast potential. Her soft touch and arms that extend forever were on full dispaly in this event. She should make the Brandeis coach very happy next year as an incoming freshman.

Sierra Felan Memorial a Success!!!

The Eisenhower Middle School Gyms are kind of old. The courts are so small that corner three point shots are almost impossible without players standing on the out of bounds line. While the weather was 80’ish with a slight breeze outside, the gyms were extremely hot. Giant floor fans circulated the hot air which gave the gym the feel of a sports club sauna. These conditions did nothing to damper the air of excitement that took place in these two gyms. The Eisenhower gyms served as a symbol of hope. In a small way, the less than perfect conditions of the gym mirrored the spirit of the event. In the tragic loss of a young and promising life, the basketball community of San Antonio came together to remember young Sierra Felan and do what she loved to do; Ball!!!! Though many of the participants have played with or against Sierra in local events over the years, they chose to put obstacles, reservations, and personal agendas aside to honor Sierra. While many in the city celebrated Fiesta this weekend, girls basketball in San Antonio celebrated Sierra. Fiesta had nothing on this party!

The event had many major stories and intrigues. Ultimately and very fitting, the championship game of the varsity division featured Sierra father, Bobby Felan, in a dual role. Coach Felan coached the runner up and was the Asst. Coach for the championship team. The event took a cooperative effort by many.

Tom Brown(YBOA/Alamo City All-Stars) and his organizational efforts ensured the events early success. Elaine and Cavin Leonard(SA Comets) spearheaded the on site operations. The event could not have happened without the Eisenhower girls basketball coach, Belinda Jeffcoat. Coach Jeffcoat got the ball rolling with the NEISD, who eventually agreed to provide the gyms free of charge. Also, respect must be given to the game officials who all donated at least one game for free to the event. Close to 30 teams signed on to play in the event, which had a waiting list for teams hoping to be included. All of these people played a big role in making this great event happen but it was the kids who energized the event.

Watching some of the best and brightest basketball players in the city wearing memorial T-Shirts in honoring of Sierra was beautiful! St. Mary’s commit, Jackie Woods, played for Coach Felans’ SA Storm team and wore Sierra’s jersey. Seeing the very accomplished scorer play with all of her energy while wearing Sierra’s jersey spoke volumes. Woods, along with an entire team of committed and signed seniors, put their immediate basketball futures at risk and played for the love of the game and to honor a member of their basketball sorority. Great examples were plentiful. They include Erica Donovan spending her Saturday evening sitting in the hot box of a gym with her new born baby brother in support of the event. Or her high school teammate, JuJu Garrett, who did not let her damaged ACL prevent her from sitting on the SA Storm bench the entire weekend and cheering vociferously. Or the sight of CeCe Harper and LenNique Brown’s very protective mothers looking on with support as their BCS Conference bound daughters played three games in one day for the great cause. This event was what girls basketball is about. A sisterhood of young dreamers coming out to honor one of theirs who tragically lost her life and reminding us all that some things are bigger than basketball!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Area Signings!

Congrats to the following young ballers for fulfilling their dreams and playing at the next level:

-Marquisha Sparks- (MacArthur/Heat) Blinn JC

-Michelle Rodriguez-(Wagner/Hoyas) UTA

- Nicole Kindred( MacArthur/Lady Rohawks) OLLU

- Haley Capestany- ( Southside/Hoyas) Texas A & M Kingsville

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Stevens Coach!

San Antonio basketball great and former UT player ,Anissa Hastings has been named to the head coaching position at Stevens High School. Hastings served as an assistant coach last year at Stevens.

Hastings promotion is a testament of faith and perseverance. She coached two seasons at Fox Tech. Her stay at Tech was remarkable as she helped instill confidence and pride in a program that failed to win ANY district games in the years leading up to her hiring. In her second season at Tech, she had her teams vying for a playoff position going into the last week of the season, before coming up a game short.

Hastings then left her head coaching position at Fox Tech to play the number two this season at Stevens.Many wondered why she would leave a head position to play the backup. She obviously knew something that others did not. You can not keep a good coach down!!!!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Never Broken?

Meighan Simmons has been the topic of many of the blogs on this site. Still, a case must be made that her scoring record(over 3400 points) may stand for as long as the last scoring record; a quarter of a century. Here is why:

1. Player- Meighan Simmons is a unique basketball player. Her blend of athleticism and skill allow her to do things only most kids dream about. While it's arguable that other recent San Antonio area players(Len'Nique Brown, CeCe Harper, Sarah Miles, Cassie Peoples) are as good as Meighan, it is undeniable that her knack for scoring is unrivaled.

Witness the McDonald's All-American game in which she earned Co-MVP. Simmons came off of the bench and forgot to "play herself into a groove". She came out gunnin! A few short minutes after entering the game, Simmons was the games leading scorer with 10 points. She was stuck on the same 10 points with around 5 minutes to go in the game. That did not stop her from scoring a game high 21 points in less than 15 minutes of playing time. Simmons scoring prowess can be attributed to her attitude!

2. Attitude- After moving to the girls side of the game a years ago, I discovered an interesting problem that plagues girls basketball; "Playing down to competition". I am not insinuating that boys never have this problem. Many boys/men's teams have been upset due to taking an opponent lightly. However, I find this occurrence a lot more prevalent on the girls side of basketball. But, not with Meighan Simmons.

Simmons has played a good majority of her high school games against teams/players that pale in comparison to her team and her ability. That did not stop Meighan from "Doing Meighan". She practically outscored opposing teams at times by herself ( I am not saying she did not have help. I am saying her final scoring total eclipsed opposing teams at times). This stubborn willingness to demand the best from herself despite playing inferior competition is uncommon. Others find it cruel.

San Antonio great Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil scored 75 points in one game during high school. Her high school coach, Mike Floyd explained to me how he orchestrated the feet by instructing all his players to not shoot and only pass it to Davis. Davis was not in on the plan and only found out during the flow of the game. The final result was a blowout for John Jay with the great young Davis scoring 75 points against a hapless opponent. The game is historic for a few of reasons. One is that a kid was gifted enough to score 75 points in a game. An other reason is that Davis had a coach who was willing to allow her to do what she could do. And lastly, the feet is remarkable because Davis had enough "killer instinct" to do it without feeling sorry for the competition and let up. Other basketball greats with the same "killer instincts" include Lisa Leslie( 100 points at halftime in a HS Game), Cheryl Miller(105 points) and Epiphanny Prince( 113 points)

I recently read the complaints of a ' victimized' parent complaining that Simmons was still in the game of a blowout win. The commenter went on the criticize Simmons and her coach for a lack of class. This is the type of mindset that breeds mediocrity. High School sports has become an investment for many. The Simmons family have poured time and financial resources into helping Meighan achieve her dreams of earning a scholarship and being the best basketball player that she can be. If Meighan plays down to competition and is sitting on the bench during every blowout, she does not become the leading scorer in SA history, she does not matriculate to Tennessee and she does not score 21 points in 15 minutes at the MacDonald's All-American game. Her coach deserves a lot of credit too.

3.Coach- Kari Wallace is the luckiest coach in the city. She was chosen to take over a new school. Expectations are low for most new schools but not this one. She just so happen to inherit the most dynamic young scorer in San Antonio. Coach Wallace could have came in with her best Bobby Knight impression and demanded a motion offense that emphasized ball movement. Instead, she did her best Geno Auriemma impression and let her star be a star. As Geno said, "... we have Diana (Tuarasi) and nobody else does". Wallace realized early that Simmons was her Diana and she was going to let her shine. The results are well documented with three State trips in four years.

While Wallace is lucky, so is Simmons. Or as the Simmons family would say, she is blessed. Blessed to have a coach that let her miss thousands off shots and make hundreds of turnovers. I have a philosophy that goes "No one goes 12 for 20 without first going 2 for 20" . Wallace lived through those 2 for 20 games with Simmons and reaped the rewards of the eventual 12 for 20 days. Wallace understood that while many players can consistently go 2 for 20, very few players could routinely go 12 for 20. It's easy to say that any right-minded coach would do the same with such a talented kid, to which I would reply, untrue. I can think of a local coach who has two talented heavily recruited Division 1 players on his team currently and constantly holds them back as he proves that he is the next John Wooden. Wallace deserves a lot of credit in aiding the rise of Meighan Simmons. She also deserves a lot of credit for having the courage to take the criticism that accompanies allowing a kid to break scoring records. Another who helped propel Simmons is Olivia Patterson.

4.Point Guard- Simmons has played almost every high school game with a Division 1 point guard. Patterson is an old school point guard who is content to run the offense and lock up opposing players defensively. While every Division 1 player has some sort of ego, Patterson has put the needs of her team in front of personal accolades. While it is true that most pure point guards would love to play with a scoring machine like Simmons, most of them would have problems with all that surrounds Simmons. Having the self assurance to know that she was an integral part of a team that is billed as "Meighan Simmons and Cast" is what separates Patterson from most. Scorers get praise and facilitators get overlooked. However, it is the facilitators that allow scorers the opportunities to score.

Simmons will undoubtedly play some point guard in college. At 5'9 in shoes, she will also have to guard opposing point guard in the SEC. Simmons did not have to worry about chasing the quickest and most skilled player on the opposing team in high school as that duty fell on Patterson. Simmons did not have to worry herself with remembering if her post players had not touched the ball in a number of possessions, or changing a particular set that was being defended well. Patterson held down those responsibilities. Having a point guard who shouldered a lot of the managerial burdens of leading a team allowed Simmons' freedom. While it is true that Patterson benefited tremendously, like Wallace, of playing with Simmons, her contribution to the scoring record is substantial.( Patterson is the only D1 player in the city to never have been the focal point of a Box and 1 Defense).

5. Playoffs- Any player trying to break Simmons mark will have to play on a team that routinely has deep play off runs. Simmons has played in 20 or so more games than the average high school player. She has led her Steele team to state in the last three years. In those 3 years, she has played in 15-18 extra games. These extra games are crucial in racking up points. These extra games have given Simmons the equivalent to half of a full high school season. In a typical high school season of 35 games, a player will have to average over 24 points a game for 4 years to score 3400 points.

The prefect storm of a uniquely talented player, having the killer instinct, while playing for a supportive coach and an unselfish point guard, on a wildly successful team is what it will take to break Simmons scoring mark. Good Luck!!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Quick Hitters!

  • Meighan Simmons captured Co-MVP of the McDonald's All- American game. The leading scorer in SA area history showed that she can get buckets at the highest level of high school basketball. Simmons played a lot of point guard against nationally recognized pg's like Jennifer O'Neil and Bria Hartley. Congrats Meighan!

  • Wagner guard Michelle Rodriguez has committed to play at the University of Texas Arlington. UTA offered the shooting guard late Tuesday nigh according to her club coach, Theresa Nunn. Rodriguez also had offers from Angelo State and SELA. Rodriguez is scheduled to sin on April 14. Congrats Michelle!

  • Clemens guard Ceara Booker will attend Dillard University on a full basketball scholarship. Booker played club ball with the SA Runnin Rebels. Booker will sign her LOI on Monday. Congrats Ceara!