July has been a busy month for San Antonio basketball. Local teams and players have traveled throughout the US in search of the basketball promised land; a scholarship from a university. States such as California, Washington DC, Tennessee, Chicago, New Orleans, and Florida will host local teams at some point this summer. All this travel offers the opportunity to get seen by college coaches who in turn OFFER local kids the chance to play at their respective universities. And Offer is what these schools have done in droves.
-The biggest news of SA summer exposure period is the verbal commitment of McKenzie Calvert to Baylor University. The 2014 standout committed to the Bears last week. Calvert was offered by Baylor at their Elite Camp in June. A strong showing in Dallas and Chicago apparently led Baylor to reiterate the offer and Calvert accepted. While many may question why Baylor would offer a kid so young, the business of basketball says that it is a very smart move on their part.
Anyone who knows the Calvert family will speak of the dedication that they have to basketball. Both Tim and April Calvert at some point have coached a few of the best kids in the city. The Calvert's sacrifice valuable time and money to drive both daughters to Houston a couple times a week for basketball practice with DFW Elite-Houston Heat. Older sister Taylor will surely receive a scholarship when all is said in done. She may take up an offer from one of the many Ivy League schools that are offering academic scholarships for her services as she is a brilliant student. Lastly, McKenzie is one of the best players in the country in her age group and routinely plays up against older competition.
A zebra does not change its stripes and I have witnessed McKenzie's shine since she was 11 years old. I had a firm grip on elite basketball on the national scene in regards to 2014 players when moving to SA over three years ago. I had just left a California environment that featured three of the top 2014 AAU teams in the nation, GBL( 2-time AAU National Champ) NJB( 2-time AAU National Champ) and Corona Lady Diamonds(2007 AAU 3rd place). These teams featured players such as: LaJana Drummer( offers from numerous D1's including Rutgers), Jordin Canada (considered by many the best PG in the nation and rumoured to be a UCLA lean) Cheyenne Butler( a small scoring machine that has at least one Pac-10 offer) Andree' Velasco( receiving letters in the 5th grade, recently reclassified to class of 2015)and Recee' Caldwell( first offer came as a 7th grader). Upon arriving to San Antonio, I quickly realized that Calvert was in the same category as all of the above mentioned and possessed the dedication to stay among the best. Obviously, Baylor recognized it too and grabbed another elite young guard.
- Speaking of Recee' Caldwell, The 2014 Point Guard for San Antonio Finest Basketball is showing out this summer. ESPN Hoopgurlz recently featured a write-up on her from the tip sheet of the Big State Flava Jam. The article by Chris Hansen went on the say:
" Some say that shooting is a lost art. Perhaps the skill is making a comeback in the future. When Caldwell elevates, extends and then flips her wrist, those watching get the feeling that the ball is about to ripple the net. Her release is so pure, it is in the Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis realm. What makes her a fantastic shooter is her understanding of her shot-making ability. Very few players her age have the strength to even draw iron on a step-back jumper from 18 feet. Caldwell didn't draw iron either, but it did trickle the net for one of the most impressive individual plays of the tournament. One look at her feet and it is easy to assume that her time at 5 feet 8 is running out. She is a savvy player with good ball schools and decent athleticism. Right now, as a point guard, she lacks lateral quickness to defend elites at the position. However her projected position is the wing when she grows into her feet. "
Caldwell was back in her birth state of California playing in an exposure event when the article appeared on HoopGurlz. One would expect that such a favorable write-up on the most respected media authority in amateur girls basketball would please the 13 year old. That assumption would be wrong. Caldwell was happy to get the national love but dismayed at the assessment of her as a "projected wing". So in typical fashion, she went out and put on a passing clinic like the facilitator that she is.
In a game against a Las Vegas team of older players, Caldwell shot the ball a grand total of two times! On the day when she was being compared to the best shooter in country(Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis) on HoopGurlz, the kid shot the ball twice! She went out and collected 13 assists in a blowout win. The fashion in which she did was more impressive.
Earlier this summer, Caldwell went out and hit 7 of 9 three pointers versus the South Texas Hoya's top team in a great shooting display. On the day the HoopGurlz article came out, her club teammate Brooke Allemand obviously felt that she too deserved some national attention. Allemand went out and shattered Caldwell's club record by hitting 10 of 11 three pointers( 9 in the first half). Allemand was assisted on 7 of her three point baskets by Caldwell. It was inspiring to watch Caldwell almost exclusively passing the ball to Allemand as they both chased number 10. She advised her fellow teammates to "feed the hot hand". Caldwell whipped the skip pass to Allemand for her 10th trey and yelled "That's 10!", before the ball even left Allemand's hands. When the tournament director approached her coach after the game, he got a pleasant surprise. A Division 1 coach from the west coast wanted to invite Caldwell on an unofficial visit so she could offer her a scholarship. This coach has led several pro players in her long coaching career. For Caldwell to receive an offer, her third to date, in a game that she shot the ball twice is quite remarkable. Even more remarkable is that this game was preceded by one in which Caldwell hit 5 three pointers including the game winner, a dribble jab jumper from NBA range against an older team that featured 3 D1 commits.
- Speaking of SA Finest, 2014 guard Wendy Knight received her first Division 1 offer yesterday. Knight had a huge California trip including a 19 point effort in an exhibition game against the tournament runner-up. The incoming freshman lived in the paint. The older guards from SoCal Magic could not stop her dribble penetration and finishes.
Almost two years ago I wrote about the three above mentioned players on a blog entitled; San Antonio's Future. Honestly, I received some flak about the blog and my proclamations that a good portion of the kids in the piece would be Division 1 basketball players. I had a parent question me and my idiocy. In his words " you can't tell if a 6th or 7th grade kid is D1" and he went on to say how ridiculous I was to make such an assessment. While I agree that a lot of unknown factors may prevent a kid from panning out( burn out, wrong fit, weak work ethic, not continuing to develop,etc), an old saying applies to these three players. Two years ago they "looked like a duck and quacked like a duck" and now college coaches are realizing that they are ducks.
Keep it up young ladies. Y'all have a long way to go but you are obviously on the right track!