Today the landscape of San Antonio basketball has changed. Instead of one or two organizations having all of the talent, many local clubs now send kids to college. In an ESPN article in regards to the 2014 released yesterday, ESPN analyst and Peach State founder, Brandon Clay, makes this statement:
"Our initial 2014 Terrific 25 features several kids who have taken the less-traveled approach to the grassroots scene. playing with teams in their area or primarily individual events as opposed to playing with well-established national programs. Jenna Burdette, Recee' Caldwell, Courtney Ekmark, Keyona Harris, Mychal Johnson, Lauren Moses and Mikayla Venson all have made their way onto the list this way. The evolution of events including the Nike Skills Academies, Elite Basketball Academy Camps and USA Basketball trials have opened the door for players to take a different approach to the exposure process. Caldwell started for the USA Basketball U16 team in between leading a San Antonio's Finest team where she was the leading scorer. Ekmark's shooting propelled the Arizona Warriors which also doubles as her high school team. Burdette and Johnson play on a West Virginia Thunder team that, thanks to their play. was competitive all summer. The same applies to Moses with Philly Triple Threat and Harris with the Miami Suns. Venson is the outlier in that she doesn't play on the national scene. In the meantime, this group has shown that the road to our rankings widen by the day. "
Brandon Clay is detailing the fact that has been largely assumed by any intelligent basketball observers over the last few years. The fact is that the basketball rain makers must realize that the traditional national powerhouses do not, nor can not, have all the talent. Diversity and competition is good for the game! With Nike downsizing to supporting only 20 teams and adidas not funding its grassroots girls basketball programs like the days of old, INDEPENDENT organizations will continue to rise. The advancement of the game through so many talented young players demands that some kids earn their just do, despite not being affiliated with the "powers that be".
Here are a couple more insights on the initial 2014 ESPN Hoopgurlz Rankings:
Independents- In addition to the above mention players that primarily play for Independents, add Jordin Canada(#3), Lajahna Drummer(#6), Mariya Moore(#14), Brooke McCarty(#16) to the lists. Canada and Drummer play on the Mike T. White circuit for Cal Sparks. McCarty plays for Cy-Fair Premier. Moore plays for Bay Area Warriors. Add Gabby Green to the discussion as well. Green was groomed under Mark Anger and his EBX program. She moved to Nike Team Taurasi for one event and unfortunately broke her ankle in her only event with them.
Nike- Nike has been and will continue to be THE circuit to play on. Nike Teams will always be stacked with a great portion of the elite kids in the country. However, here is an interesting fact. According to ESPN Hoopgurlz 2013 rankings, the Top 4 players in the country did not play at the Super Bowl of club basketball, Nike Nationals, this season. Mercedes Russell, Kaela Davis, Diamond Deshields, and Taya Reimer were not in Augusta, Georgia for Nike Nationals this past July. To dispel misinformation about who is sponsored by Nike, visit the BlueStar site. Nike ONLY sponsors two oranizations in Texas, Cy-Fair Shock and DFW Elite. That's it!