Thursday, April 28, 2011

San Antonio Future 2011

It has been a couple of years since I have featured the future stars of the city. This is not a ranking and the kids are mentioned in no particular order. Like all young players, they have a long way to go. However, they appear to be on their Way!

  • Kyra Lambert 2015- (TeamXpress) Kyra is the best middle school prospect in the city. Her basketball instincts are off the charts. She possesses the ability to slash and touch the paint almost at will. She also makes others better. Her unselfish play and demeanor belies a fierce competitive nature. Kyra has already played in the Top Division of the Boo Williams April event. It does not get much tougher than than that. Will surely be recognized Top 100 kid on a national level.

  • Erica Sanders 2015-(SA Finest) Erica is as fast as any kid in the city from baseline to baseline, regardless of grade or age. Erica has tightened up her handle to make her almost unguardable off of the dribble. Her Euro Step is just plain nasty. She finds gaps in defenses that others would not dare to attack. Unfortunately, this leads to her taking a lot of physical contact. She will live at the free throw line in high school with the constant attacking pressure that she puts on defenders. As her shot continues to develop, she will be a nationally recognized kid.

  • Amber Ramirez 2016(Lady Hoops) -The most exciting scorer in the city for middle school. Scored 30 plus on the regular for her 7th grade team this past season. Amber has all the tricks on offense. Her handle is advanced and her 3 ball seems to be automatic. One of her biggest attributes is an understanding of how to change speeds to keep defenders off balance and guessing. Her "Eric Gordon" high crossover makes defenders look silly. It is obvious that she plays against boys often as she possesses a knack for scoring with quick releases and difficult shot making. Swagger to spare!

  • Aaliyah Holmes 2016(Lady Hoops) -Holmes makes the 3 Ball seem like a lay up. She is the younger sister of the high scoring SA Express Super Teamer Shana Holmes and can light it up like big sis. Holmes is almost the same height as her sister now and is built with the same strong explosive frame. She went for 40 plus in a middle school game this season and averaged 30 plus.

  • Kirsten Kramer 2015 (Lady Jayhawks)- Kramer is gifted. It is easy to see that the cross training of playing additional sports gives her an aggression and understanding of going hard. This also has left her with a ton of upside. Her shot has good bones and will become more consistent as she is now fully dedicated to the game. Kramer is another kid with great instincts. She can slash and finish well in traffic. Her size and speed enable her to make great "basketball plays". Huge upside!

  • Kiana Williams 2017(TeamXpress)- Williams is legit! A super quick guard in the mode of SA great Len'Nique Brown. Her handle allows her to see a play ahead of the competition. She is a very good passer for her age and makes others around her better. She can hit the open jumper as well. Williams has big time written all over her if she stays on the path.

  • Kenzie Heineman 2017(SA Finest)- A pure scorer! That may sound ridiculous to say about a 6th grader but the proof is in the bottom of the net. Heineman is the younger sister to 27-5A New Comer of the Year, Carlie Heineman, and the art of getting buckets is in the family. Kenzie is ambidextrous and can shoot from 15 feet with both hands, with success! She can stretch the defense with the 3Ball and already has a mid range game with runners and step backs. Her handle and first step makes her a nightmare for girls her age.

  • Gabby Connally 2017(South Texas Hoyas)- Gabby glides down the court like football great Herschel Walker used to run. Her long explosive strides eat up so much ground that it is unfair to defenders. She has sharpened her handle and is continuing to work out the kinks with her jumper. In terms of raw talent, there may not be a more gifted kid in the city for middle school.

  • Desiree Johnson 2015(SA Lady Rohawks)- Eboni Watkins again! Johnson lives in the paint and possesses the same runner in traffic that UTA bound Watkins mastered. Johnson is of good size at 5"7 and has a street ball flair of getting it done. She has the attitude of a champ and fears no one! Already getting college attention for her raw potential.

  • Megan Valdez 2017(South Texas Hoyas)- One of the most hard nosed kids in the city. Megan will get double digit rebounds and assists from the guard position due to her knack for reading the floor and defenders. She is the best off-ball defender that I have seen in the middle school age for the city. She already understands how to read the shoulders and eyes of opposing players to jump passing lanes. Her ability to penetrate has been aided by her new found range from deep. Megan can play.

  • Brianna Millett 2015(SA Lady Rohawks)- Millett has always been a beast in the post but has now moved out to her eventual position of off guard. "Bree" is strong! She is Erica Donovan strong on the perimeter, though not as tall, and punishes smaller defenders. Her handle has tightened which allows her to effectively use her body get to spots with the live ball now.

  • Anya Curtiss 2016(SA Finest)- Curtiss is right there with Holmes and Ramirez in contention for purest shooter in middle school. Curtiss is smooth and is never in a hurry. She plays under control, always knowing that defenders must run her off of the 3point line. If not, mark it up! She is that automatic. Her handle is strong and she possesses the footwork to match.

  • Brittany Leonard 2015(SA Comets-Leonard) -"Moose" is another kid that can really shoot it. Playing up for years, her basketball IQ is exceptional and indicative of a coaches kid. Moose is a crafty lefty and a very adept at finding the open player. She has a strong frame and is a physical guard. She is a little too unselfish at times. She has all the tools and it is just a matter of time before she flips the switch.

  • Bailey Quisenberry 2016(SA Finest)- Savvy as can be. "Quiz" is easily one of the best facilitators in the city. She understands that all passes are not good passes. She has remarkable touch on her passes. She passes to where players should be and rarely drops dimes to players out of their areas of success. Her mid range runner is highly effective and changes speed well. A pretty adept shot maker in traffic due to great footwork(mastered the Steve Nash outside pivot counter vs aggressive defenders).

  • Anabelle Tovar 2016(Lady Hoops)- Another kid with a knack for scoring. Reminds me of Wagner great Chelsea Solis. Has the confidence and ability to get it done vs bigger and stronger defenders. Terrific at putting pressure on defense with dribble penetration. "Belle" is a very effective scorer in traffic. Another kid that plays against boys, she is not afraid to mix it up.

  • Vanessa Oyola 2017(SA Finest)- Strong handle, great IQ and an improving facilitator, Oyola is mature beyond her years. She is a fierce competitor and attacks constantly. She has a solid mid range game with runners and floaters, using both hands. Her vision and willingness to get buckets for her teammates is pretty impressive. One of the few kids that can truly feed the post effectively at this age. One of the few young kids that understands the importance of spacing. She fears nothing!

  • Danaja Daniels 2017 (SA Lady Rohawks)- Super quick guard with a nice mid range game all ready. Great on ball defender. Daniels plays low and penetrates at will. I have only seen her a couple of times but she left a great impression on me.

  • Aiyanna Bardell 2016(South Texas Hoyas)- Bardell is long and very athletic. She took a year off and is back invigorated. Bardell can guard all 5 positions. She is the rare kid that can rebound in traffic, push the rock up the court and make a play for herself or others. This kid can be special if she continues to fulfill her promise.

  • Moriah Creswell 2015(SA Lady Rohawks)- Johnson is quick and savvy. She already knows when to use her impressive speed and when to run a team. Everytime I see this kid, she becomes more impressive to me.

  • Lexi Rich 2016(SA Finest)- Rich is a very good scorer for her age. She has a wide array of finishing moves and can knock down the 3 with a high percentage. Plays up against high school kids and holds more than her own. Rich does a great job at getting shots off over bigger defenders by releasing shots from crafty angles. Will be a 20 point scorer eventually in high school, no doubt about it.

  • Endia Peterson 2015(Sophia Young Elite)- Not only does she play in the same club as SA Express News Super Teamer, Chymaya Turner, she plays like her. The 5"9 guard is super strong and has the confidence to match it. Peterson uses her body well and possesses a good command of the basketball. Her court vision is impressive and allows her to play up with older stars.

5th Grade Standouts 2018- (A quick hitter)

  • Desiree' Caldwell(SA Finest)- Handle is better than 90% of starting high school point guards. Yanks defenders like she honed her craft at Rucker Park. A right hander that is more comfortable going left. Splits double teams with ease and scores in traffic. Can go!

  • Katlyn Ghavidel(South Texas Hoyas)- Pure shooter. Reads and uses screens to get open like a seasoned 2 guard. Ice water in her veins. Can miss a few shots and come back and bury 5 in a row with the game on the line. Impressive demeanor!

  • Sophia Ramos(South Texas Hoyas)- Erica Hernandez all over again. Great work habits with a tremendous feel for the game. Has a behind the back counter that she uses to attack defenders to get into the paint.

  • Destiny Jenkins(SA Finest)- The sickest cross over in the city, regardless of age! Jenkins changes directions like a running back with the ball. Her small frame makes her willingness to attack the paint even more impressive. An aggressive on ball defender that causes headaches for the opposition.

I am sure that I missed a few but these kids are surely willing and able to carry the torch for SA basketball!


Here are a few stories of success that should inspire others:

  • Nikki Nolan- Two ACL injuries and one major shoulder separation could not stop the "Bulldog",a nickname given to her by Lady Rohawk Coach, Charlie Harper. Nolan perseverance and toughness is very remarkable given that she is 5"6 on a good day and played out of position in club and high school basketball. Watching the diminutive guard grab double digit rebounds in a game earlier this season, I could do nothing be admire her tenacity. Nolan's ferocity made me a huge fan of hers last August. At a Gannon Baker clinic in College Station, Nolan backed down from no one. Some of the best guards in the nation went at her and she used every inch of her body to let them know that she was no push over. Nolan's signing with Central Methodist University is a celebration of stick-to-it-tiveness and in her case, TOUGHNESS!

  • Another MacArthur star, Alexis Isaac has reportedly been accepted to MIT. The Lady Rohawk wing will play basketball at the prestigious academic institution. Isaac passed on numerous opportunities for scholarships for chance to attend her dream school and pursue professional goals. The Lady Rohawks motto is "Using Basketball as a Vehicle for Education" and Isaac kept the game in perspective by making academics a priority. Congrats Alexxis!

  • Another NEISD star, Markia Thomas, has received a full scholarship to play at New Mexico Junior College. The All-District power forward for Roosevelt played a major part in the success of her high school this past season. Congrats Markia!

  • Cornerstone coach, "Ice" Reed did an exceptional job this past season. Coach Reed has a total of 4 players moving on to play college basketball from the 2011 class. Coach Reed is smart enough to embrace club ball and the SA Comets Elite organization and their efforts to help his kids. Coach Reed has a son that is a stand out ball player for a local high school and he understands that its takes a basketball community to raise a college basketball player.

  • Speaking of parents that get it, congrats to Mr. and Mrs. John Roberson. Anyone who has had a prolonged conversation with John will leave with an impression of a man with a firm grip on the basketball scene. John, does not allow others to dictate the road for his children. While most observers questioned the philosophy of his daughter, Wagner star Arielle, waiting until the spring to commit and sign with college, John and his family stayed the course. Many questioned his course with his oldest two daughters. One of them now plays pro ball overseas after a successful career at Texas Tech while the other one plays volley ball for UT and has helped her team to a couple Final 4's. Arielle will join her brother at the University of Colorado. Her brother was not as heralded as others in his class. Some whispered behind John's back that he was holding his son back. Now his son Andre is receiving major attention as a freshman from NBA scouts for his incredible athleticism, versatility and upside. These same attributes were honed by his father while the local "experts" questioned him. John, a former pro himself, has a great sense of perspective. He understands the big picture better than most in regards to "needs". I remember John talking to me about club ball. He went on to explain that Arielle did not "need" to travel all over the world as a freshman for club ball. He explained that Arielle played daily against a 6'7 brother that is better than ANY girl across the country. He theory was that all the competition that Arielle needed, slept a few doors down the hallway. In hindsight, I guess father knew best. And mama! Anyone attending a Wagner game knows that Mama Roberson knows her stuff too!

  • Look out for a feature on Smithson Valley star, Alison Salmon. Salmon gave up her last year of club ball to serve on a Christian mission to witness to the unprivileged. Her story is very remarkable. Salmon, one of the best shooters in the city, is reportedly choosing between UT-Dallas and Trinity soon. Trinity is probably the front runner, according to her choices in the past.

  • Farewell to the SA Lady Hoops. One of the best 7th grade teams in the state of Texas are no more. The group represented San Antonio well across the nation. They gained many admirers with the exciting style of play and dynamic point production. The group has disbanded because head coach and founder, Antonio Holmes, has been reassigned in his capacity with the Air Force. Thank you Coach Holmes for your contribution to SA basketball and more importantly, for your sacrifice for our freedoms. The SA lady Hoops will be missed. They gave further reason for SA to hold its head up across this great state in terms of basketball. The Lady Hoops took on all comers and were the shining example of where SA basketball is going, UP!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Early Observations!!

The club season is now in full swing as most competitive clubs/teams played in exposure events this past weekend. Some early observations follow:

  • San Antonio club directors/coaches are starting to get it! Playing great competition and in exposure events are replacing the outdated philosophy of chasing plastic trophies. San Antonio had at least a dozen teams at the Heart of Texas in Frisco. A few more teams were in Houston at the Cy-Fair Texans event and another organization attended the prestigious Boo Williams Invitational.

  • With all the awareness of playing better competition and in exposure events, we must collectively remember that advanced skill set translates on any court in the country. Truthfully, some of the kids attempting to play in front of college probably should learn to dribble with both hands and jump off of the correct foot on lay ups attempts . Or should I say, some club coaches should teach these things before putting kids in front of coaches.

  • I was amazed at the skill set and Basketball IQ of the Oklahoma kids as a whole. Two teams in Frisco were particularly very impressive, Oklahoma And 1 and Oklahoma Select Blue. Both teams play full court man and aggressive full court traps for the entire game. Both teams have versatile wings that can shoot, guard numerous positions and attack off of the dribble. Both teams have at least 2 point guards who are smart, can handle the rock on a string and play defense like they are mad at the world. They both have smart coaches that are able to teach advanced concepts. Understandably, both teams have 8-10 players that will play at Division 1 universities. I asked the Oklahoma And 1 coach how often he practices because his kids were so skilled and intelligent. His reply, "We have been together for 3 weeks, our HIGH SCHOOLS due an amazing job". I immediately thought that two of the best coaches in SA, UTSA's Rae Blair and Reagan's Terry Barton, are from Oklahoma.

  • This led me to think of a few things like the art of shooting, skill set implementation and intelligent offense. When viewing Oklahoma wings over the last few years, I have noticed how well those kids shoot. Think former UTSA sharp shooter, Jordan Starks. Starks was in the 5"11 range and shot from 25 feet range with consistency. Take current UTSA 6"2 player, Whitney Wright. Wright is comfortable shooting the 3 ball and probably actually prefers it to playing in the post. Both these players would have probably been designated post players if they played high school ball in SA. A lot of Oklahoma teams play some sort of motion offense, even at the club level. This necessitates that ALL five players are capable enough to do their part versus extreme pressure. I am always tickled with some local parents who yell " move the ball" at high school games. More often than not, these same parents have kids who are incapable of making good basketball plays due to a lack of skill set and Basketball IQ. I guess the theory goes to move the ball to unskilled kids so she can turn it over or take a shot that she is incapable of routinely making. Its is a reason that she is open! These Oklahoma kids have 6 ft players that handle pressure like 5 ft point guards. That is the reason that their coaches can effectively run motion(equal opportunity) offenses.

In an instructional DVD by Xavier Mens Coach Chris Mack, he makes this great point. Why are ALL NBA teams running pick and roll sets the majority of the time. The overwhelming reason is to keep the best ball handler and decision maker with the ball in his(her) hands most of the time. The NBA sees the reasoning behind allowing the most qualified kid(pro) to make the majority of the decisions, in a league full of pros. The argument is, "that is why the women's game is more pure." Tell that to Notre Dame, who lost to a Texas A&M team that runs a ton of pick and roll and rode point guard, Sydney Colson to a championship.

(Sidenote on Colson: I have spoken with pundits that "bragged" that Sydney Colson would have or should have been an All-American if she played with a different club team during high school. I have also heard some say that she would have been an All-American in college if she chose a different school. Last week, Sydney was chosen as the first pick in the second round of the WNBA draft and won a NCAA championship. She was chosen before all but two high school All-American guards. I think she and her family made the right decisions!)

  • The art of shooting that is exhibited by the Oklahoma kids bring up another issue in San Antonio schools. How many schools have The GUNN or Dr Dish? The shooting machines are must haves in most parts of the country. Most booster clubs can raise the $4000 to buy one. There is no surprise that so many teams in the state tournament have a number of kids that can shoot the three like it's a lay up. Part of the problem in the lack of shooters is the red tape involved in accessing gyms. Gone is the day where the Jackie Stiles' off old are allowed to stay in the gym and shoot all night. How many local coaches stick around and let kids shoot a thousand shots after school? How many kids have keys to the gym or are cordial with janitors enough to be allowed to shoot. The tales of this STILL happening in Dallas, Houston and other parts of the country are common. I saw current University of Cal star Layisha Claredon grow up in a tough neighborhood in San Bernadino, CA. The gym was her sanctuary and she spent countless nights honing her craft, along with her teammates. She now is studying at one of the most respected academic institutions in the nation. Her high school coach deserves a ton of credit for that success story. For the next Claredon's to happen, it will take coaches who give access to gyms to players that want to get better. More importantly, it takes players that want to get better.

  • A couple conversations with the fathers of elite players recently have helped keep perspective on the Elite. Alexis "The Great" Jones father took time to impart some of his vast wisdom to me. I asked him how often his daughter works on her game. He replied that she is "resting" after winning a state championship and she "only" works out fours days a week now. Her usual regiment calls for six days of skill set work including running a steep hill while dribbling combination moves. How many club players do not work of their games just 3 times a week?

  • In a separate conversation with another father, he went on to explain the difference between two clubs. His daughter moved from one club to another this season. His current club has 24 kids on two rosters,with 14 of the kids ranked in the HoopGurlz 100 in their respective class. This father goes on to say that the biggest difference is that "these girls stay in the gym". His daughter started for one of the 5A semifinalists this past season and has been a participant at the well respected Nike Regional Skills Academy. Yet, he was amazed at this new environment and the dedication of the players. A lot of club ball detractors state that it is easy to stack talent and look good. What those people fail to realize is that NO elite kid was born that way. Countless hours of practice is how an elite player becomes elite.

  • To further this point, the USA 16u tryouts is next month in Colorado Springs. Of the eighteen 2014 players invited(seventeen 2013's invited), I have seen or coached against 6 of these freshmen since they were in the 4th/5th grade. I have seen California kids Jordin Canada, LaJahna Drummer, and Gabby Green since the 4th grade. I have seen Texas kids McKenzie Calvert, Brianna Turner since the 5th/6th grade. I have seen Cali born and Texas resident Recee' Caldwell for a little bit longer than the others. The point is that these 6 players have been competing against each other and working extremely hard on their games for at least 6-7 years. All work with trainers for specific and concentrated instruction. They all now have the opportunity to represent their country playing a game they love. Good for them!

  • Quote of the Day: Talent determines Tolerance- "I will tolerate more from those with talent than those without" Terence Jackson, Elite Trainer/Club Director

Spoken like every college coach or business owner in the country, whether they admitted or not. This quote made me reflect on a special aired by HBO about the UCLA Dynasty. The late great John Wooden personally picked up Hall of Fame center Bill Walton from jail after being arrested for protesting the Vietnam war. Instead of penalizing Walton, Wooden reprimanded him and gave him advise. Would Coach Wooden have done the same for the 12th man on his bench? It is easy to say yes but remember that Coach Wooden was known for NOT coaching his entire team; he delegated his lesser players to being instructed by his staff while he concentrated on his core that led him to 10 titles.

  • The USA 16U invites list is here

Monday, April 18, 2011

Comets Elite

Congrats to the SA Comets Elite for going 3 for 3 in getting their seniors into school next season. The following players signed with the following teams:

  • Lauren Jay (Smithson Valley) – Southern Arkansas

  • Bethany Krock (Cornerstone) – Southwest Assemblies of God (signs 4/22)

  • Kayla Jernigan (Johnson City) – McPherson College

Congrats Ladies!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

ESPN on San Antonio youngster!

Johnson freshman, Recee' Caldwell gets some national love!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sparks matriculates!

Marquisha Sparks, former MacArthur star, has committed to Texas A&M Corpus Cristi. Sparks shined in her first year at Blinn JC and will now play at the Division 1 level in the Southland Conference. Sparks is another player from San Antonio's talent rich 2010 class to play basketball at a Division 1 school. Congrats Marquisha!

SA standing up!!

The past two weekends have broadcast to the entire state of Texas that San Antonio basketball can not be taken so lightly anymore. Traditional area powerhouse TeamXpress has long carried the torch for SA on the club scene. The SA Lady Rohawks added their name to the respected list by defeating many powers from the Houston and Dallas areas over the past few years. More importantly, TeamXpess and Lady Rohawks were and still are placing kids in Division 1 universities across the nation. Now a new crop of clubs are gaining recognition and churning out national caliber kids. The Shes Ballin Extravaganza and the Cy-Fair Invitational gave notice to the entire state that San Antonio is not a two stop light city anymore in terms to elite basketball and prospects: Sophia Young Elite: Former SA Silver Stars strength and conditioning coach, Mike Ekenam has entered the club scene with a bang in his second season. His Sophia Young Elite team is loaded with talent. They played against one of the top teams in the country in Nike Cy-Fair Shock Elite and lost by 2 points in the SB Extravaganza. Club stars Chamaya Turner(NB Canyon), Tabitha Richardson(Seguin) and Moriah Mack(Reagan) factored huge in the game. Lauren Rubio(South San) hit a clutch go ahead 3 pointer with less than a minute to go to give SYE it's first lead after being down close to twenty points. Nike Cy-Fair Shock pulled the game out but the game was easily on of the best on the event.

SA Finest Blue: This collection of some of the best 2013/2014 prospects in the city are a team that must be respected. Their record to date is 0-5. This team also faced Nike Cy-Fair Shock and lost by 6 points in a great game during the Extravaganza. Recee' Caldwell(Johnson/2014) finished with 22 points on 14 shots in a head to head match up with UT-bound Peyton Little( finished with 23 points). Tanaeya Boclair(Brennan/2014) had 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against BCS bound Caitlin Diaz. SAF traveled to the super competitive Cy-fair Invitational and faced 3 more of the of the top teams in the country, DFW-Washington, Cy-Premier, and Cy Fair/Westside Elite. All of these 5 games, except one, were single digits deficits with a few minutes to go before the youngsters ran out of gas.

Here is a PARTIAL list of the standouts that SAF Blue has faced:

Peyton Little(ESPN # 40/UT commit), Kamy Cole(OU commit), Menta Spears(PBR #25 in State) Caitlin Diaz (PBR#15 in State), Tyler Scaife( ASGR ranked #6 in 2013), Brianna Turner(ASGR ranked #1), Brooke McCarty(ASGR ranked # 7/2014), Courtyce Knox(ESPN # 42/2012), Vega Hamilton(PBR#10 in state), Tiffany Davis(PBR #23 in State), Taylor and Tyler Gilbert(PBR #31 and #32/U of H commits), Aaliyah Brown(PBR #34 in State) and Emily Johnson(PBR#43 in state).

For a group of freshmen and sophomores to face this competition exemplifies the new philosophy of the city's brightest organizations. The want to get better by facing better competition is a major reason that San Antonio is producing nationally respected prospects.

SA Lady Hoops: This group of youngsters played "up" two grades and still vanquished opponents by double digits. Amber Ramirez(2016) is ready! She faced players two/three years older and still her hit her trademark three ball and used her slick handle to make defenders look silly in the Extravaganza.

TeamXpress: Is loaded as usual with a front line that goes, 6'4, 6'4 and a 6'7 eigth grader!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Commits!

  • Southwest star, Shana Holmes, committed to Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. The South Texas Hoyas guard is one of the most prolific scorers in the city's history and will take her gifts to the Gulf South Conference.

  • MacAurthur star, Nikki Nolan, has committed to Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri. The SA Heat guard is one of intense players in the city for the class of 2011. Her tenacious play will assist her in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

These two commitments are remarkable. Both of these young stars suffered ACL injuries in their playing career. They both are in the 5"5 range. The knee injuries and lack of stereotypical basketball height did not prevent them from earning scholarships and lends to the argument that San Antonio basketball is gaining national respect. Both players have played club ball since at least middle school and their travels have apparently paid off, with one gaining the attention of a school in Arkansas and the other in Missouri.

Congrats young ladies! Your accomplishments are paving the way for future area undersized ballers!