-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.