Recee' Caldwell has been named to the u16 USA National Team. Caldwell overcame incredible odds to make the country's super team! Here is why:
True Point Guard: " That little girl is the best floor general that I have seen in 11 years". This comment came last October from a NCAA national championship coach after seeing Caldwell play for the first time. Caldwell had just had a remarkable tournament with her club team. She led her team of 8th and 9th graders to a double digit victory against a team with three division one commits. This coach of a perennial top ten program immediately offered Caldwell a scholarship, one month before even playing in her first high school game. Then comes her first high school game. Caldwell scores 37 points versus Taft and now the perception becomes that she is a two guard? How does a kid go from a "floor general" lauded by a millionaire college coach to a "two guard" in one month? Necessity!!!
Caldwell was the most vocal player in the USA trials. She played with an enthusiasm that became infectious. She fed the post early and often. She made incredible full court passes for game winning lay ups. She only shot when other options had been explored and the situation dictated. She broke man and zone presses by some of the most athletic kids in the country. Pressuring her became a bad strategy as she turned zone presses into transition lay ups via the pass. Man presses became 5 on 4 opportunities as over aggressive guards were rendered ineffective. She threw an alley oop during a half court set that garnered oohs and aahs. I knew Caldwell had the ability to run a team at a superior level but the uninformed did not. Why has her elite point guard skills been overlooked? Necessity!!!
Caldwell has never thrown an ally oop pass against the back side of a 2-3 zone in San Antonio because she has never played with a kid like Kaela Davis! Davis, the much ballyhooed Tennessee commit, went high into the air and converted the pass in incredible fashion. She then smiled at Caldwell as to say, NO ONE saw that coming but you and I. Game recognizes game and Caldwell's game has been slept on by many.
Caldwell has always been a true point guard. However, like any capable and intelligent pg, she lets the situation dictate her course of action. The great thing about elite players is that they have full refrigerators. When preparing a meal (game plan), sometimes ingredients that you planned on using are not available. A great cook (player) can go to the fridge and improvise to still make a delicious meal. Caldwell can cook!
Before Caldwell stepped on a high school campus, she was warned that she should use the 'school of choice' to attend a different high school. Johnson High School won 8 games previous to her arrival. Most "knowers" scratched their heads at her decision to attend her designated school. Johnson has a young student body with few players that have traditionally taken the game seriously. While that is changing, Johnson still lacks the student body that lives the game like many other schools. Like any intelligent player, Caldwell understood that she needed to score in order to help Johnson succeed. Johnson scored in the mid 30's the year previous to her arrival. Johnson scored in the mid 50's in her freshmen year, mirroring her 20 points per game average. Caldwell also finished in the top ten in the city in assists. That is incredible when analyzed. Caldwell faced junk defenses like Box and 1's and double teams the entire year. Most of her assists came from drawing and kicking to wide open shooters. Her assists came from depending on her teammates to hit 20 foot jump shots. Contrast that to point guard extraordinaire, Leslie Vorpahl. Vorpahl earns a lot of assist from getting strong finishes at the rim from the workhorse, Carlie Truesdale and the agile big, Dani Espinoza. Caldwell helped Johnson go from 8 wins to the first 20 win season in school history, a 12 win improvement (2 out of the 12 win improvement came when Caldwell was out with an injury).
(Side note: Food for thought, MVP?- Speaking of Churchill star Vorpahl, let's look at some of the SA Super Team. Vophal plays with two Divsion 1 prospects in Truesdale and Espinoza. John Jay star Erica Donovan plays with D1 prospects in Destiny Amezquita, Aleeya Harris, Raven Reyes and Texas Sothern bound KiKi Taylor. She also has college bound Vanessa Orr and the talented 2014, Antania Newton. Southwest star Shana Holmes plays with OLLU bound Chatavia "Baby" Boonefudge. Wagner stars Arielle Roberson and Eboni Watkins play not only with each other but D1 bound Ashely Ross, and college bound KiKi Rivera. Wagner has three more guards that will play in college. Stevens star Alexis Govan plays with sharp shooting college bound Alexis Sendejo. Even New Comer of the Year, McKenzie Calvert plays with D1 commits Elena Gumbs and Taylor Calvert. She also plays with college commit Lauren Zoldy. The only star on the Super Team that does not play with a teammate who will earn a scholarship is Chamaya Turner. Is Chamaya the most valuable player in the city? She has a strong argument. Her scoring out put, rebounds and assist for a team that in lacking in star power speaks volumes)
Back on track, Caldwell earned a rep as a scorer because of her move to San Antonio. Her AAU team based in California was one of the best in the nation (finished 3rd in 2007 AAU Nationals). This team featured two players who made the USA Trials cut to 34, Caldwell and Lajahna Drummer ( Drummer received her first offer from Rutgers as 8th grader). The team also featured 3 of the ESPN 100 Watch list for 2014, Caldwell, Drummer and Chyenne Butler (offered by Arizona as 8th grader). Caldwell left one of the best teams/players in the country to play for her fathers' team, a team of predominately basketball novices. Her first club season for her father, Caldwell faced a team coached by the father of Baylor commit McKenzie Calvert. While she had no problem with the competition, her teammates were a little green at that time. At that time, Coach Calverts' team featured McKenzie Calvert, Kyra Lambert, Moriah Mack, Ashley Ross, Corinna Monchado and on a guest basis , Elena Gumbs! That is a total of at least five D1 guards, two potential All-Americans in Calvert and Lambert. Caldwell was used to the level of competition but was thrown into the fire as "needing" to score. This was perfect training! Caldwell then went on to play for TeamXpress for two years. She was a great fit for the Xpress style and was the starting point guard on her team as a 12 year old, a team that had players driving to practice!
The move to San Antonio was criticized by the California club scene as a step back for Caldwell. They reasoned that she would suffer because of the weaker competition. However, just as with the decision to attend Johnson, Caldwell took a perceived negative situation and GOT BETTER because of it, not in spite of it! San Antonio basketball is better because of it. Johnson High School basketball is better because of it. The Californian transplant will rep both San Antonio and Johnson while wearing the RED, WHITE, and BLUE. And she will do it her way, as a COMPLETE point guard!