Friday, August 26, 2011

Jessica Kuster-ish

With Elena Gumbs' commitment, former Reagan star, Jessica Kuster comes to mind. San Antonio will have two very bright young stars playing for Rice in 2012-2013.

Kuster had a break out year that surprised many with her terrific freshman season. She was definitely the "sleeper" of the 2010 class. So who will be the "sleeper" for San Antonio for the class of 2011? Danielle Blagg!!

While other players may have "went bigger", Danielle Blagg has the ability and environment to shine in the Tulane system. Conference, style of play and ability all should spell success for Blagg. She is my pick for having a breakout year for SA's for class of 2011.

Gumbs makes it official!

Steele star, Elena Gumbs, has formally announced what some have known for months; she is going to Rice to play basketball!

The TeamXpress point guard reportedly verballed to Rice after the viewing period in April but held the news close until recently.

Gumbs is an amazing athlete. Do not be surprised if she runs track and excels in that sport as well. Gumbs was one of the best long distance runners in the state as a freshman and sophomore.

Gumbs is a success story and an inspiration to the vertically challenged players in the city. Anyone knowing Elena will understand her will to succeed and her enormous confidence. This self belief has led to Gumbs, a 5'4 guard, to being among a very small percentage of small guards that get an opportunity to play Division 1 basketball. It also helps that she is reportedly a brilliant student.

Congrats to the Gumbs Family. Congrats Elena!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chasing Meighan!!

What Meighan Simmons has meant to the San Antonio area's basketball scene can not be measured. She has motivated young basketball players across the city to strive to achieve more. She has shown the nation that San Antonio's brightest players can play with anybody. The McDonald All-American door has been opened and it is highly probable that more local kids will too be named to this team over the next handful of years. Meighan's positive effect on the city can not be denied, however, her high school brilliance has had some adverse consequences as well.

Bites too Big for the Mouth: Since Meighan's commitment to the legendary program of Tennessee, a number of the kids in the city have chosen schools that were a little over their head in an attempt to "keep up with Meighan". Some mid-major D1 talents chose high majors schools and are having trouble finding playing time. Some players chose small D1 schools over the better fits of D2 schools and are having trouble adjusting their game to the higher level.

Big Time Daddies(Mommas): Another "Meighan Effect" is the prevalence of the number of parents, primarily fathers, in overvaluing the abilities of their daughters. It is amusing to hear many parents coaching from the sideline and exaggerating the exploits of their kids with no real reference point. To hear middle school daddies compare their child to older elite players is ridiculous if they did not see these elite players in middle school. Also, failing to take into account the caliber of competition and coaching is problematic. This also speaks of a lack of perspective when comparing kids and not taking "upside" into account.

I routinely heard a father talk of how his daughter was a great scorer and unstoppable in middle school when projecting her eventual brilliance. This father failed to account for other factors like genetics, environment and personal drive. Without being completely sidetracked, Meighan's first cousin on her mothers side is a veteran NFL player who makes his living with his amazing speed. Meighan's father is 6'4ish with a muscular build, even in his middle aged years. Her brother is a freshman linebacker at Oklahoma State and her baby brother is already closing in on 6"4 as a rising sophomore. Besides these athletic genes, Meighan had an environment that nurtured her amazing talent. Her close knit supportive family had a distinct plan for Meighan's development and stuck with the script. Most importantly, Meighan possesses an overlooked but essential "WILL TO SUCCEED" most players simply do not have. Her self confidence, vision and determination is not normal.

(Side note: Size- I often recall the pronouncements of a local father who had a chip on his shoulder about the size of his daughter. He claimed that everybody discriminated against his child because of her size. He would go on for days about how unfair it was that his daughter was "slept on" by coaches, ranking services and by this site. Never mind that at least two local players,underclassmen in fact, have D1 offers and are the same size as his daughter. What this dad could not see was that he stunted his daughters development by chasing trophies instead of making sure she had a D1 skill set in her formative years.)

Delusional High School Coaches?- In speaking with a D1 coach recently, he/she had been informed of a local high school coach claiming that to have three high major D1 players currently on his roster. This coach is apparently unknowledgeable. He is a good X and O coach in my opinion but his cocoon has him fooled! Any high school coach that does not go to elite club events in the summer will have a tough time at being objective. The coaches that do not visit high major college practices are not informed about the caliber of player that it takes to plays at that level. The problem is again, perspective.

(Another Side Note: A few years ago I spoke of an Oklahoma high school coach I met at a club tournament. I chronicled her success. I find it NO SURPRISE that this coach is now the head coach at Tulsa University. In the same blog, I "discovered" a dynamic young guard named Kamra King. Ms. King is now a freshman at UTSA and looked very good last week in a spirited scrimmage vs SA greats, Jasmine Malone and Sarah Miles)

Take Boerne Champion for instance. Johnathan Tate is one of the brightest young minds in the city. He is one of the few coaches that I consistently see scouting opponents on off days. He is innovative in many ways. A couple of years ago, his brilliance helped his team share a district title with Steele, led by Meighan Simmons. Now, an unknowledgable observer would reason that Tate's Champion team must have had players that were as good as Simmons. WRONG!!! The truth is that Tate's "team" was arguably as good as Steele's team. College coaches make their living "finding" players. Not one senior from that 2010 Steele team is playing college basketball on a scholarship, let alone at the highest level of the game for a a program like Tennessee. Champion's team ran a great system. A great system and the Texas high school rules (lack of shot clock), allow good/great coaches to partially minimize the accomplishments of great players. Coaching schemes are essentially why a kid can play against a Simmons led team and score as much as her, and her high school coach FALSELY believe that his/her player is even in the same breath as Simmons.

This overestimation of high school players by high school coaches lead some to encourage wrong schools choices. A former local high school coach advised her star guard to pass up on the only D1 offer a few years ago because her player "could get a bigger" offer. Luckily this kid secured a late offer from another "small" D1 at an exposure event after her high school senior season. This kind of thinking has been a vice of club coaches in the past but now some high school coaches are joining them in getting caught up "going big".

Club Basketball Marketing: For a club organization to advertise that a former player went to a big time university helps the prestige of that club. For a club coach to speak with the Patt Summitt or Geno Auriemma is very flattering and some get caught up in the hype. A club director claiming that so many former players playing in BCS conferences, helps future recruiting efforts. It implies that a particular club is "big time". The problem with this perception is that some miss the fact that Simmons is different. Her early success at the highest level of college basketball is the exception, not the norm. Also, her former club team, TeamXpress, has had successful kids play at the BCS level before Simmons(Sarah Miles). Great clubs do not make the players, great players make great clubs.

All we have to do is look at Jesica Kuster of Rice as an example. Kuster did not "go big time" to many observers. However, next to Simmons, she had the most successful freshman season of any kid in the city, even though some kids went "bigger". Her high school and club coach can take pride in the fact that they guided her to the right choice, the right fit, and did not get blinded by getting caught up in the (Meighan) moment.

Chasing Trophies: This is a very sore subject. Watching local teams and parents constantly chasing trophies is hurting the game. Watching Meighan score almost at will while shattering the city scoring record has led many parents to believe that this is the only way to succeed. Consequently, these clubs and parents play inferior competition in an attempt of having little Suzy look like a scoring machine. This is a very flawed strategy.

Meighan Simmons played up in competition! My first month in San Antonio, I visited Meighan's club practice in Austin. I found her pretty impressive. She was a freshman still and had been recently named New Comer of the Year for the city. I found it interesting that she was the starting guard on her TeamXpress team and her BACKUP was the #75 ranked player in the nation by ESPN Hoopgurlz. Please reread that last sentence. That should tell you two things; Meighan was a high major talent as freshman and she played up instead of finding an inferior team and competition to make her look good.

This blog is not really about Meighan. It is about how the city may be looking through rose colored glasses when we approach the girls that are coming after her. Yes, we should be pushing the young players that want to be pushed to achieve more than Meighan. The problems occur when we fail to consider how extraordinary she was(is) and how we can get on a slippery slope in the pursuit of achieving her status. The crown is extremely heavy to wear and it simply does not fit the head of the majority of players.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

With the club season over, many players and parents are now wondering what should they do in terms of keeping contact with college coaches. I have asked numerous coaches for advice on the subject. Here are some of the responses:

Communication: According to one college coach, players should be "proactive by emailing, calling and even texting coaches to express interest". This coach went on to say that although coaches can not respond to text messages, they still show that recruits are interested. "Facebook is the best thing going right now.... It's more personal than email but not as quick as a text", states one particular D1 coach. Beginning on September 1st of a players junior year, they can be contacted via email and Facebook. This coach also liked the opportunities of getting to know a kid via Twitter by using person to person messages.

A different college coach preferred not to receive text messages from recruits as it may lead to quick instinctive replies which could be a violation. However, this coach also trumpeted the use of Facebook and Twitter in the communication process. The downside of the social media communication leads to another piece of advice.

Enthusiasm: One coach describes how recruits can really turn a coaching staff off by not "seeming" interested. This coach went on to explain that many recruits lack the communication skills that should be expected by a young adult. This coach feels that frequent communication on social media sites have left kids unable to effectively speak with adults. This can lead to schools moving on to recruits that are better equipped to relate their interest effectively.

One coach advises kids to be specific with schools when contacting them by doing your homework. Knowing what educational opportunities, style of offenses, and player personnel are all helpful in showing a college program that you are serious about them. Mentioning how you(high school player) and your game is similar to a former player of that institution can go a long way.

Introductions: If a player has not been sent a questionnaire or communication by a school but would like to be recruited by them, mama or daddy may not be the best option. One D1 coach states that they are more likely to take a look at unsolicited inquiries if contacted by a high school or club coach. This coach went on to explain that many programs will not simply ignore a call from a club or high school coach in Texas because they do not want to alienate grass roots coaches in such a talent rich state.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

San Antonio Rankings! 2013

1) Chamaya Turner( Canyon/Sophia Young Eite)

- The most dominate player in the class. Turner is guard with a power forwards body and great vision. Passing ability is incredible. Finishes in paint as well as any in the city but imposes her will on defenders. She is a bully with the ball in the mode of Erica Donovan. Terrific athlete with Olympic potential in track. At least one D1 offer.

2) Brooke Allemand(Champion/SA Finest)

- The best shooter in the city finished first in the state of Texas in 3 point makes last season. As a freshman, led the city in 3 point percentage. She has improved her handle enough to routinely yank defenders. A former gymnast, her quickness makes her tough to stay in front of for defenders. Great mid-range runner and pull up jumper. Shoots the 12-15 footer like a boy. ESPN Hoopgurlz Top 100 player. D1 offers at 5'5 is impressive.

3) Destiny Amezquita( Jay/Lady Mustangs)

- Before the knee injury, the best in the city for 2013. If she recovers fully, Amezquita is arguably as dominant as ANY player in the city on the high school level. She has incredible strength at the guard position and has volleyball line range on her jumper. Tight handle and good passer. Another bully with the ball. Plays with chip on her shoulder and takes a backseat to no one.

4) Leslie Vorpahl (Churchill/SA Heat)

- The best floor general in the class of 2013 and probably the purest point guard in the city. Incredible basketball IQ. Understands how to change pace as well as any in the city. Never panics vs traps or pressure. She passes to areas of success for her teammates. Plays passing lanes well on defense and does a great job on anticipating by reading opposing players eyes and shoulders.

5) Moriah Mack(Reagan/Sophia Young Elite)

- Huge upside still! Incredible athlete with hops to spare. Arguably the best on-ball defender in city. A surefire defensive stopper at the next level. First step is almost unfair. Improved her handle and jumper this past summer to become one of the city's elite.

6) Aleeya Harris(John Jay/South Texas Hoyas)

- The most upside in 2013. At 6"1 Built strong enough to rebound and guard post players but quick enough to guard the wings at the next level. Aggressive shot blocker with good timing. Improved handle allows her to face up and attack bigger defenders. When she figures out that she can be great, watch out!

7) Brianna Jones( Madison/SA Finest)

- The most improved player in the city for 2013. At 5"11, another kid that can guard post players and guards. Wiry strong with a solid handle. She has clean 17 foot jumper. Can increasingly hit the 3 ball off of the catch. Plays out of position in HS. Really helped herself this summer by playing well vs. top rated wings around the nation.

8) Jackie Anderson(Antonian/SA Finest)

- Big guard at 5"9 with strong build and handle to match. Wing span of a 6 footer which causes havoc on defense. Great first step off the dead ball. Nasty jab step that leads to paint touches often. Mid range runner is a great weapon. Can rebound and push tempo extremely well.

9) Elexus Allen(Stevens/SA Comets-Leonard)

- 6"0 and arms that go on forever. Another upside kid. Terrific athlete and great defender. Used as a lock down kid for her high school and club programs. A nightmare at the top of a trapping zone press. Track star fast. Improving offensive skill set.

10) Alyssa Crockett(Brennan/TeamXpress)

- Gritty point guard with a great motor. Plays with chip on her shoulder. She is constantly on the attack and lives in the paint. One of the few guards who gets to the free throw line more often than physical bigs.

Monday, August 8, 2011

2011 MAYB National Champions!

2011 MAYB National Champs!!

Congrats to the South Texas Hoyas 9u team for winning the MAYB National Championship this past weekend. The event was held in Oklahoma and featured 24 teams. The champs went and impressive 8-0.

The young Hoyas squad showed its discipline and toughness by winning four games by less than 5 points, including an overtime time win in the quarterfinals. Deja Kelly and Jessica Paz y Puente sealed the game with three crucial free thows. The semifinal game was also won at the line with two clutch free throws by Kelly. The championship was iced by six huge free throws by Leila Stansberry. Obviously, the young Hoyas perform under pressure. It was that resolve that the 9u champs to hoist the gold ball.

Congrats young Champions!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Missed on Espinoza?

I have wrote about Churchill's(Team Intensity's) Dani Espinoza often on this blog. However, my ranking of her as the #15 best player in 2012 for the city was probably too low.

The reason for not having the very talented Espinoza in the Top 10 derives from the fact that I have never seen her in the role as the head honcho. Espinoza plays on a very good high school team and was the 4th option in the offense behind Leslie Vorpahl, Carly Truesdale and Jordan Holub. With Truesdale reportedly living in Houston now, it may be Espinoza's coming out party.

I have been told that Dani Espinoza stepped her game up to another level this summer with a move from the SA Heat to Team Intensity. On her former club team, SA Heat, Espinoza never had the opportunity to carry a team. With her move to Team Intensity, she reportedly played against numerous D1 committed guards while handling point guard duties at times. She apparently made a lot of admirers in the process.

Hopefully she continues to show that I whiffed on her and she is Top 10 in the city, easily.

Friday, August 5, 2011

San Antonio Rankings: Class of 2012

1) Niaga Mitchell-Cole-Guard (Roosevelt/South Texas Hoyas)

- The most complete player in city of 2012. Can score, facilitate, defend and rebound. Has a dozen D1 offers. Has terrific size at 5'10. Probable lock down defender at next level.

2) Sabrina Berry-Forward( Reagan/Austin Elite)

- Best slasher in city for 2012. Great rebounder. Runs the floor with a passion and finishes well in traffic. UTSA commit. Super athlete and is the most "Alpha" kid in class.

3) Erica Hernandez-Guard(Floresville/South Texas Hoyas)

-The best scorer in the city(surrounding area) in 2012. Designated sniper off catch or dribble. D1 game. Has a knack for hitting tough shots. Sneaky first step and finishes with wide array of shots.

4) Tabitha Richardson-G(Seguin/Sophia Young Elite)

- Big strong guard that can score or facilitate. Plays with a flare. D1 game. Can be a bully when playing the pg. The most playground game in the class. Can be spectacular at times. D1 offers.

5) Elena Gumbs-Guard(Steele/TeamXpress)

-Great motor and on-ball defender. Lives at free throw line due to constant penetration. Good quickness. Reportedly a Rice commit. Easily one of the most confident kids in the class of 2012.

6) Eboni Easter-Forward(O'Conner/TeamXpress)

- Best pound for pound rebounder in city. Great in traffic and terrific mid range game. Probable D1 kid. Played out of position at 5'9. Reminds me to former all-conference UTSA player, Ashley Franklin.

7) Tori Villareal-Guard (Incarnate Word)

- Big strong smooth lefty guard that can dime and get buckets. Could be best in 2012 if she wanted to be. Now plays the game for fun. D1 ability but has not played club in 3 years.

8) Lauren Rubio- PG (South San/Sophia Young Elite)

- The best passer in 2012. Flashy lefty w/ deep range. Should get D1 interest. For sure college player. Has the killer instinct and is a fearless performer.

9) Senobia Winbush-SF (Clemens/SA Lady Rohawks)

- One of the most gifted kids in city w/ size and skills. D1 attributes. For sure college player. Has all the markings of a high major kid at 6"0 and as long as the day is.

10) Raven Reyes-Center (John Jay/South Texas Hoyas)

-Biggest kid in the city at 6'3. Much improved. Good rebounder and shot blocker. D1 body. Surely a college player.

11) Kiarra Rivera-PF (Wagner/TeamXpress)

- Very good rebounder. A terrific second leaper and strong frame. Improved mid range. Definitely a college player.

12) Monet Neal-SF(Taft/Sophia Young Elite)

- Best vertical in city for 2012. Great timing elite shot blocker and defender. Dennis Rodman-ish. Has at least one D1 offer.

13) Adrianne Davis-Guard(Wagner/Crossfire)

-Twin is a terrific on-ball defender and is fearless. Speed allows her touch paint often.

14) Jordan Holub-Guard(Churchill)

- One of the better shooters in 2012. Surprises many with a quick first step. Can finish over bigger defenders.

15) Dani Espinoza-Forward(Churchill/Team Intensity)

-Long athletic around the basket. Runs floor well.. At 6"0, can face and attack off of dribble well.

16) Aundrea Davis-Guard(Wagner/Crossfire)-

-This twin is also a great on-ball defender and possesses a great first step off of the dribble.

17) Gabby Ramos-Guard(Kennedy)

- Tough as nails kid that can get buckets.

18) Cheyenne Miller-Post(Judson)

- Great basketball body at 6"0 and strong build. Good motor and rebounder.

19) Rose Maldanado(Brandeis)

- Big guard with good vision. plays with flare. Recovering from leg injury.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Yelling with Reason!

I had to swallow my pride and make an apologetic call recently. Years ago, I traveled all of California in search for the best in girls basketball. My daughter had recently proclaimed that she wanted to be a pro basketball player. She said she was intent on making it to the WNBA. While I knew(know) the odds of such a goal, who was I not to do all in my power to help her achieve it? This led me to immerse myself in the girls game and transition from the boys side.

Our travels led us one night to a gym in the Inland Empire of Southern Cali. We came to witness a scoring machine that now attends at Pac-12 school, one of the most prestigious academic universities in the country. This player could get buckets with the best of them. My young child and I were impressed and had another example of basketball excellence to chase.

This player played with a rebounding machine that I was unfamiliar with at this time. This kid was an athletic specimen. While asking knowing fans, I learned that this kid was also being heavily recruited and was one of the state leaders in rebounds. She was a beast!

The rebounding beast was also unruly. Her attitude and court demeanor was something that I found disturbing. As a father, I could not imagine allowing my child to behave in such a way. However, I inexplicably condoned her behavior and excused her immaturity because of circumstances.

Her team was based in San Bernadino, Cali. A close childhood friend and current California Swat Team Officer recently described that Berndu, as we call it, is easily home to the most violent gangs in the Inland Empire. San Bernadino has had a reputation for poverty and crime for a while. I automatically knew that this rebounding machine was a product of her environment. I reasoned that her fierce rebounding and defensive presence was a byproduct of her growing up tough. I justified her uncouth and down right disrespectful on court behavior as part of the game.

During a crucial stretch of this game, my "ignorance" came to bear. Her coach was yelling at her constantly because of her repeated lack of focus. He yelled at her for not following instructions. He yelled at her for talking trash to opposing defenders. He seemed to yell at her for everything. I became fed up. I "yelled" at this coach, from the stands, "I bet Perris High School(a rival school) would love to have a player like .........." I then continued with, " Hey ..........., Coach Marv(Perris Coach) would treat you better than this dude".

Most of the crowd looked at me, some approvingly and some with disdain.

Fast forward a few years and I am now a yeller. I realize the error in my outburst years ago. In my old age, I have matured(I think). I now see what this high school coach was trying to accomplish. He was trying to steer a wayward kid in the right direction by providing "tough love" to a kid who obviously needed it. All I had to do was take a step back to appreciate the intent of the "yeller".

This coach rarely yelled at the scoring machine. At that time, I reasoned that the scoring machine was worth more to him so he treated her with kid gloves. Hindsight reveals that the scoring machine is currently a standout player and good student at a great D1 university. She obviously did not need the same discipline as her rambunctious teammate.

Hindsight also tells that the unruly rebounding machine is currently in junior college. I am glad to learn that she is still in school, despite her detours. Initially, the rebounding machine committed and signed to a BCS school. For reasons unknown to me, she did not attend this D1 school and is a juco standout. In an online picture, I see that she has found her creative outlet. She has tattoos from her neck to her hands. Her entire upper body is covered in tattoos. Having a tat or two myself, I have not casting the first stone. I am now understanding that the behaviors that I witnessed(and condoned) and prolific tattoos MAY create some difficulties for this young woman in the future.

I have read media outlets rant and rave against "yelling" coaches lately. I am not for abusing players. However, I find it difficult to stomach some of the behaviors of so-called elite players by passive coaches. In a recent prominent tournament, yelling coaches received a ton of negative ink from a media outlet. I then witnessed two so-called elite young women acting in a way that no young women should behave. These two Top 50 players were "acting a fool" in front of scouts, parents, media outlets and young impressionable kids. These players happen to play for one of the best teams in the country and their coach is not a yeller. He saw this nonsense and shook his head in disapproval but SAID NOTHING!

Fatherhood has apparently changed me. In my youth, I aspired to play for Jerry Tarkanian. I fell in love with the game of basketball through the UNLV Runnin Rebels of 1986 and and it hurt deeply to lose to the Steve Alford led Indiana team in '87. Bobby Knight was a jerk to me and too hard on his players. I hated when my UNLV Runnin Rebels loss to the squeaky clean Duke Blue Devils in 1991. Coach K was boring and ran his team like the Army man that he was. The Blue Devils again spoiled my fun in 1992, when they beat the hip hop personification of basketball in the Fab 5 of Michigan. I would have loved to play for Tark the Shark or Steve Fischer. Baggy shorts, black socks, trash talking, and swag when swag was not even a word.

In my phone call to the San Bernadino high school coach recently, I made amends for my outburst years ago. In our productive conversation, he went on to explain what I already had come to realized. He was trying to get his young women to conduct themselves as such. He knew the real "pressures" that his girls go through on a daily basis and being mentally tough was important. Succumbing to wrong choices in moments of "mental weakness" sidetracked many of his girls, many people in general. Yelling at his kids to perform, think and act accordingly, in a game was not abuse. Abuse is allowing these young women to act counter productive to society standards. I went on to explain that I have a new found appreciation of Bobby Knight(save the choking) and Coach K. I wonder if some of my favorite ball players growing up had been yelled(corrected) at more, would they have turned out to be better men? I know that social ills and childhood disadvantages can not be solely corrected through yelling or a game, but still, a little bit of discipline can go a long way. It is better than saying nothing and letting kids create detrimental habits that one day will come back to haunt them, and I can not say this any louder!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Some July Truths!

I love July! Basketball players, parents, trainers and coaches get a dose of truth serum in July.

Here are some probable truths in the July recruiting period:

-If your trainer claims that you are D1 and the next great thing but you do not have any college interest, it might be time to find a new trainer or work smarter and harder. College coaches livelihoods depend on finding and recognizing talent. If you are playing in front of them and they are not recognizing you, it is for a reason(s).

-If you aspire to play in college and your club team fails to play in front of college coaches, you might want to find a new club team.

-If your parents are constantly coaching from the sideline and according to them, your club coach is a nitwit, it is time for daddy/mommy to start their own club team. Especially since they have surely played and know the game like the back of their hand.

-Club coaches, if you have been playing in front of schools for years and still have no serious interest in your players from colleges, that MAY be an indication that you are not coaching(developing) college players.

-Parents, if your daughter was overlooked by all-district, all-city, all-newspaper, and all-region teams by biased high school coaches with personal agendas, don't fret. If your child is getting love from college coaches, July is your all-star team notification. The accolades that truly matter come in form of financial assistance to universities/colleges.

- Players, instead of hating the accomplishments of club teammates that are getting attention from college recruiters, use that energy to focus on getting better and attracting the attention from those same coaches. Here is a great acronym for haters given by a local club player: H.A.T.E.R.S. = Having Anger Towards Everyone Reaching Success

-Players, if a club coach is not playing you in front of scouts, they may be protecting you from yourselves. A Big that is not rebounding, a shooter that is not making shots, a point guard that is constantly turning the ball over and a scorer that can not find the bottom of the basket, all can hurt themselves in the eyes of recruiters. Your club coach may not be behaving as a jerk by keeping you on the pine.


Why So Early?

With Recee' Caldwell committing to Baylor, the national message boards are in high gear questioning the reasoning behind the early commitment. The question is why so early? The true question is, why not?

- Coach- The theory is that a rising sophomore can not be sure that a coach will still be there three years from now. Does anyone really doubt that Kim Mulkey will be at Baylor in three years? A seven figure annual salary, a highly successful program, and a knack for recruiting great talent are all valid reasons why the coaching situation is stable. Add to that the speculation that she turned down a large sum of money to coach at LSU, a dream job, recently.

- Players- The argument is that Caldwell does not know the players that she will play with, thus, made an uninformed decision. This is not entirely true. Top 100 kids Kristina Higgins, McKenzie Calvert, Chardonae Fuqua, and Destiny Brown are slated to be on campus at that time. With Caldwell, Baylor has at least five ESPN Top 100 players. Add to that a much underrated Sune Agbuke and the likelihood of Baylor landing additional Top 100 kids, and an unbiased mind would reason that Caldwell "knew" the caliber of players she would be eventually playing with.

- Recruited Over/Competition- Texas A&M has celebrated its first championship by signing six ESPN Top 60 players in 2012. Add Top 25 2011 pg in Alexia Standish and Top 25 2012 guard in Tori Scott. In 2013 and 2014, A&M is going to have 8 guards ranked in the Top 60 in the nation, all fighting for 3 spots on the floor.

Tennessee celebrated a very successful season and the emergence of SA scoring great Meighan Simmons with the signing of another McDonalds All-American guard and USA gold medalist, Ariel Massengale. How did they celebrate the signing of Massengale, they got a commitment from Adraya Carter, Top 20 guard in the class of 2012. Simmons will then play with Kaela Davis, arguably the best player in the class of 2013. Carter and Davis will surely be McDonald's All-Americans. Tenessee will have a back court of at least 4 McDonald All-Americans in 2013 in Simmons, Massengale, Carter and Davis. Many say that they are the leaders for the 2012 sensation, Alexis "The Great" Jones. The point is, EVERY perennial top 10 program will relaod every year with high caliber kids.

In regards to competition, Caldwell runs from no one. In fact, at still 14 years old, she is often put in situations that would overwhelm many. When her SA Finest team faced a Cal Sparks Gold team earlier this summer, 50 or so college coaches showed up to see her face fellow USA teammate and childhood friend, Jordin Canada. What they saw was Caldwell give more than she took while having 4 different BCS guards hound her the entire game. Canada's team has three Top 15 kids(Canada, Lajahna Drummer, Erica McCall) two USA Basketball team members(McCall,Canada) and a total of FIVE ESPN Hoopgurlz Top 100 kids(Canada,Drummer, McCall, Kari Kover, Emoni Jackson). It was the same last year in high school where Caldwell faced teams like Reagan, which featured three Division 1 players in Sabrina Berry, Moriah Mack and Wendy Knight.

Many "top" kids on club teams never face double teams due to them playing with other "top" kids. Jordin Canada can not be double teamed with the sharp shooting Kari Korver hitting NBA range bombs with ease. Post to post help on Erica McCall would be silly with the 6"2 jumping bean, Lahjana Drummer on the opposite block. Caldwell has faced double teams from Top 100 kids for the last two summers and met the challenge.

- Arranged Marriage- I heard a coach compare Caldwell's decision to the olden days of arranged marriages. The argument is that like wives of old, Caldwell did not know what other opportunities she had because she was denied the opportunity to make an educated(liberated) choice. This insinuates that she did not get a chance to "date" others.

The truth is Caldwell has taken unofficial visits to half a dozen schools. She had over 2 dozen offers. She had an offer from at least one school in every BCS conference. She visited finalists Texas, Texas A&M and UTSA at least twice, each. She has spoken with and was being recruited by FOUR national championship coaches and a two time WNBA championship coach. Her first college letter came as a 11 year old 6th grader and her first offer came as a 12 year old 7th grader. BEFORE her first high school game, a dozen or so schools were in her high school PE class, watching her run sprints.

Also consider that her father was a college basketball player who went through and understands the recruiting process. He gets sound advise from one of his mentors, a current WNBA asst coach. He also consults high school coaches, college coaches, and some of the most influential people in club basketball. Having trained dozens of college basketball players, boys and girls, he has helped many others through the same process.

All of this indicates that she did not make a decision based on being naively betrothed to a school. If an aspiring young physician pledges to attend Harvard Medical School while still in high school, she/he is applauded. In basketball, these young focused players are vilified.

-Transfers- "All these early commitments are the reason for transfers", is how the story goes. Maybe so, but here is food for thought.

-The divorce rate for so-called mature adults is a whopping 50%!!!! Applying the early commitment theory, the majority of these divorcees must surely have gotten engaged in their early teens and made uninformed decisions!

-According to this MSNBC article, 50% of college students change majors, with many doing so more than once.

-While the transfer rate of basketball is at an all-time high, is it at 33%? If not, female basketball players are ahead of regular students according to this New York Times Article.

- According to this 2010 CNN report, 60% of working Americans planned to switch jobs. In a study by Man Power employment agency, 84% of working adults planned on switching jobs in 2011! "A lot of people will be looking because they're disappointed with their current jobs," said Paul Bernard, a career management advisor and veteran executive coach.

These alarming stats can be dismissed as comparing apples and oranges. But it is? If a great number of adults are changing spouses, marital statuses and careers, how can we expect basketball players to buck a NATIONAL practice that cuts across all racial, professional, educational, gender and age categories? If 1 in 3 students eventually transfer schools, how can we realistically expect basketball players to be different.

Early basketball commitments can not be solely blamed for the high transfer rates when a great portion of society "transfers" often.

-Pressure- Caldwell was supposedly "pressured" into her decision. Am I missing something; what pressure? Coach Mulkey did not turn into Don Corleone and make Caldwell an offer she could not refuse. She could refuse. In fact, she did refuse to commit last fall when she was initially offered a scholarship by Baylor. She refused to say yes to the other schools that offered her. There was no pressure involved.

The truth of the matter is that Coach Mulkey advised the Caldwell family to take as many unofficial visits as possible, to other schools, in order to get a better understanding of what was out there. FACT! Another fact, Caldwell informed Coach Mulkey that she gave her word to another school that she would visit in June. Coach Mulkey advised Caldwell to honor her word and visit the rival Big 12 school. That does not sound like pressure to me. Choosing between some of the top schools in the country for an opportunity to play a game that she loves is not pressure. It is a privilege that she earned. Salud!!!

Recee' Caldwell Commits

Johnson High School star Recee' Caldwell has committed to Baylor University. In a great article by ESPN HoopGurlz, Caldwell goes on to explain why she chose Baylor.

Baylor is turning San Antonio into its personal playground with three area players expecting to play together in 2014-2015. Cornerstone great Sune Agbuke is a freshman this season for the Baylor and Steele standout, McKenzie Calvert, SA Express New Comer of the Year, committed to the Lady Bears last summer.

Caldwell chose Baylor over finalist, Texas A&M, Texas, USC and UTSA. Caldwell was also being heavily recruited by and considering Tennessee, LSU and Duke.

Congrats Cee'.

Monday, August 1, 2011

WNBA Coverage

One of the benefits to the NBA lockout is that the ladies are getting some shine. NBA TV is doing in depth interviews and features, usually reserved for the men, on the women.

On another note, Lindsay Whalen and her game winning 1-2 dribble pull up over the SA Silver Stars yesterday highlighted why this is the most important shot for perimeter layers in basketball. Whalen DID NOT need a screen or designed play to execute the huge jumper. She caught the ball on a reversal pass from Maya Moore. Whalen then swept baseline(using a legal cross step move that would have been called a travel in high school) and hit the 1-2 pull up over the out stretched hands of Jayne Appel. The 5"9 Whalen planted her inside leg and pounded her last dribble and took to the air. Whalen elevated over the 6"4 arm of Appel and nailed the game winner. This is a common shot at the WNBA and college levels. This shot is seen increasingly on the elite club circuit. However, the SA area kids(in large numbers) have yet to start to develop this most important skill. Hopefully this changes soon!