Thursday, May 31, 2012

Play with puppies, don't be mad when they lick ya face!

Anything and everything in South and Central Texas Basketball is what the slogan is for this Blog. With that in mind, this subject is relevant, I think.

 Many  years ago, my teenager was in a store with me and witnessed the intolerable.  A young boy was disobeying his mother. He was throwing a tantrum. He threw store items, yelled at his mother and basically had his mother in tears. My then 5 or 6 year old daughter watched in amazement. She had never seen a kid act this way. She never seen a kid be ALLOWED to act this way. My baby looked at me and quietly said, "Daddy, that boy needs a spanking".  I could not have agreed more!

How is this relevant? Because so many coaches, club and high school, lack the backbone to ensure kids behave, or be mentally strong against pressure. Winning or having the best players has become more important than instilling discipline.

Bob Knight was a coaching tyrant to some. The man choked one of his players. That was wrong. However, his disciplinarian ways helped many. A young Isaiah Thomas was raised by a strong mother in the toughest part of Chicago. Mamma could only do so much to deter her kids from joining the streets. A few of Isaiah's older brothers fell victim the vices of the street. With this in mind, young Isaiah went to a private high school outside of his hood, a school coached by the very strict Gene Pingatore. Thomas thrived in the structure and chose to attend Indiana to play for 'The General' Bobby Knight.

 An account in the unauthorized biography of Knight, a disturbing exchange occurred. Isaiah was behaving and playing like the undisciplined kid from the south side of Chicago. Knight crossed a line and reportedly asked Isaiah if he wanted to end of like the rest of the "*******" in his neighborhood. The bleep in this case was a racial slur. Isaiah reportedly cried. He was hurt. Yet, in his own words, he understood the intent of the cruel and inappropriate message. In fact, Isaiah denies that Coach Knight ever used such language, despite numerous players that witnessed the exchange and have reported otherwise. Why would Isaiah lie about the incident? He credits Knight with truly having his well being in mind and instilling a discipline in him that he needed at that time.

Where have all the tough coaches gone? Yelling at a kid today in tantamount to abuse in many circles. Coaches are no longer instructors on discipline and mental toughness anymore, many of us have become "friends" of players. Since when should a coach be "friends" with a player? 

Last summer I took my club team to New Orleans. I had yet to experience Bourbon Street. I along with a fellow middle age coach visited Bourbon Street. I was uncomfortable! This coach and I are both fathers of girls basketball players. We both are disciplinarian yellers. As we walked down Bourbon Street, at close to midnight, we were alarmed with seeing so many young basketball players wandering the same streets in groups. The same adult clubs and dancers that solicited clients out in open did not clean up  their acts for the kids. Better yet, it was the young basketball players whom did not clean up their acts. As the coach and I walked back towards the entrance of Bourbon Street and back to our cars, we spotted a group of girls, dancing in front of a dance club. The girls belonged to a club basketball team. The girls were dancing like the adult dancers that were hawking their services. Witnessing this made me feel old and upset , like Booby Knight. Somebody needed a spanking. Then it got worse. The club coach of the girls was smiling at the debauchery. He failed to see us approaching and as he turned, he saw that the fellow coach and I were looking at him like he too needed a spanking. He stopped smiling and looked  ashamed. That is the problem! Too many coaches try to befriend players instead of teaching them through discipline.

Here are a few things that I have witnessed or been made aware of recently:

- Some of the best players in the nation and locally, love smoking weed.  Two of the best kids in the class of 2013 brag about getting high on Twitter. A few of the best players in the class of 2012 and 2013, locally, talk in code about smoking weed very openly.

-  A few local players have a reputation for drinking and partying.

- Recklessly promiscuous behavior is being promoted among many high school players. I know of players who feel ostracized because they are not "trading cards". I recently learned that at some schools, "trading cards" are pictures of naked girls, taken with their consent by local boys, and shared around the school. Kids are bragging about taking the morning after pill.

These are just a few instances of undisciplined and destructive behaviors that ARE KNOWN by high school and club coaches.  Yet, these players are not held accountable by the adults who guide them. Please understand, I am not casting the first stone about teenage indiscretions. I was a West Coast youngster, raised to do right by Mamma, but taught by Too Short and Snoop Dog how to do wrong. The difference between now and then was that my old coaches did not tolerate  crap. The old gruff coaches that would curse you out for doing dumb things are gone. The old coach that demanded respect through discipline has been replaced by "friendly" coaches that have a lot in common with their players. Tweeting with 15-17 year old about shared interests does not make a coach better. It makes a coach unable to demand respect from players. Teaching mental toughness through basketball is outdated and apparently archaic.  

Kids are needing medication for anxiety attacks because of math tests. Kids are succumbing to harassment by teammates and classmates to make sexual decisions. Kids are clinically depressed because of boy or girl dumping them. Some of the strength that it takes to withstand negative peer pressures and misbehavior can be instilled through TOUGH coaching! Instead of showing sympathy for mental lapses on the court, good coaches should use those instances to mold better players, stronger people. Instead, mental meltdowns are condoned. Not only does this not prepare kids for life, please make a mental note about how these undisciplined players  fail to thrive at the next level. College coaches make a living depending on young adults having their act together.  "Friendly" coaches should start doing their part in preparing these kids for college. Not "spanking"(not figuratively) them for their tantrums(undisciplined behavior) will hurt them more in the long run.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May Quick Hitters!

  • Jackie Anderson(Antonian) is scheduled to make an Ivy League tour in late June. The SA Finest Blue wing is visiting Yale, Dartmouth and Cornell. All three schools are elated to get Anderson on campus as she has been on their target list for awhile. Anderson is drawing major interest from Stetson, HBU, West Point and Texas State among others.

  • Local club coaches are getting the message; have game will travel. Local clubs will attend events in Dallas, Atlanta, Tennessee, Oregon, Louisiana and Nebraska this July. Add Arkansas and Oklahoma to places that have already hosted local club teams. This is a major reason that more schools are "discovering" the talent here. I overheard a team coach from a city close to San Antonio "bragging" about playing in a non-certified event in July. This coach has rising seniors!

  •  To  follow up on my tweet ( last Saturday, SA has some of the best young guards in the country. I am not talking about "best" that so many local coaches and basketball heads use so loosely. I am talking about "BEST", as in will have their pick of college destinations. I find it comical that so many people always claim that "this kid is the best", but the college opportunities do not reflect that! A kid like Amber Ramirez has more college opportunities than kids being proclaimed as "best", yet she has not set foot on a high school campus! Anyway, here are the San Antonio guards who will surely be among the Top 100 players in their respective classes over the next few years.
Top 100 Locks
2014- Recee' Caldwell and McKenzie Calvert
2015- Kyra Lambert
2016- Amber Ramirez
2017- Kiana Williams
2018- Desiree Caldwell
(Tanaeya Boclair (2014) is ranked in the Top 100 by HG and is the #23 ranked forward in country)

Top 100-150 Probables
2014- Wendy Knight
2015- Erica Sanders
2017- Gabbi Connaly and Kinzie Heineman
2018- Destiny Jenkins

  • Wagner coach, Tina Camacho, is now the head of South Texas AAU basketball. Not AAU, as in what most clubs are misnamed, but AAU as in the Amateur Athletic Union. For teams to qualify for AAU national championships, they may be required to play in South Texas regional event. AAU Nationals traditionally has been the most competitive event in the country for elementary and middle school aged teams.

  • The talk among D1 basketball is the alarming rate in which men are increasingly being named as head coaches. With the addition of Randy Evans, SA Express News Coach of the Year, to Johnson HS, the NEISD may lead the city in male coaches for a district. Johnson, Reagan, Roosevelt, Churchill all have male coaches. Lee had a male coach but he reportedly took a position at John Jay on the boys side. With Evans joining Johnson, the head coach for 3 out of the Top 5 teams in the city last season will be coaching in 26-5A.

  • With Evans leaving for Johnson, Brennan is a much sought after job. The Top 5 team features at least 4 college players, including one D1 lock and two more D1 probables. That kind of talent spells success in the city.

Mark Lewis on USA Trials!

In a follow up to the blog on the local kids that did not make the USA u17 team this year, Recee' Caldwell and McKenzie Calvert, here is a great article by Blue Star Media's Mark Lewis on a Dozen kids that did'nt make it.

Here is what he said about Caldwell:

Another 16U gold medalist from last year who didn’t get a return engagement with the U17 squad was point guard Recee’ Caldwell (San Antonio, Texas – U17 Trials). The youngest participant in this year’s trials found herself in a deep pool of floor leaders that had everyone courtside guessing as to who might get the call from the committee in the end. To her credit Caldwell demonstrated some depth and versatility to her game that should keep her among the elite in the 2014 class. While noted as a scorer in her own right, it was her defense in Colorado Springs that had everyone taking notice. Active and aggressive, she turned ballhandlers again and again. She maintained good spacing but was still harassing both passes and sloppy ball skills. Several opponents found themselves playing laterally or looking to enter the ball early which is no way to impress those selecting the final roster. Offensively this time around the 5-8 standout was more content to create opportunities for her teammates and deliver the ball than look for her own. One of the difficult challenges of the trials for a point guard is finding that balance between facilitating other’s looks and taking advantage of your own and she may have erred to some degree in that decision. None the less, Caldwell has demonstrated a capacity for assuming and delivering in a role which is a hallmark for USA selection that may well lead her back to another roster in the near future.

Here is what Lewis said about Calvert:

McKenzie Calvert was one of the invitees that will benefit from her experience from the trials. Calvert, the 5 foot 9 guard from Cibolo, Texas, has a very high basketball IQ, she communicates well with teammates on the court. Calvert can create for herself or teammates off the dribble. She is an explosive quick guard who can get her own shot with ease and she loves to attack. Calvert is a playmaker with a keen sense of her surroundings to find the open man. Calvert used body and quickness during the trials to be a lockdown defender. Calvert played with a lot of energy and was a handful at both ends of the floor.

Too Many Games!

A few years ago, one of the best local middle club teams would play 100 or so club games a year. I disagreed with that practice then and I am more against it now.

The NBA just played a grueling 66 game schedule in 6 months. Mind you, these are the best athletes in the world. They have the best dietitians, physical trainers, chiropractors, and masseuses. They have nutritionally balanced catered meals, cryogenic freezing chambers and hyperbaric champers to speed up recovery. The NBA game is much bigger and stronger than girls basketball, but so are the athletes. Furthermore, the athletes at that level play at a level where basketball plays are made. The league and refs are interested in protecting players, since players are who generate the revenue that keeps the billion dollar business going.

Now contrast that to the local scene. High schools play 32-35 games a season. Add that to a number of schools that play a handful of games in senseless fall leagues. That is already close to 40 games a high school season. Looking at the competition, a number of kids are not, nor will be basketball players. A good portion of players do not know the difference between a good basketball foul and a hack. A number of kids are out of control and reckless in their movements. Our high school players put themselves at risk more than a lot of other places because of the lack of sound teaching, gifted athletes and basketball IQ locally. Add club basketball into to the picture. Many clubs will play in excess of 10 events per summer. Why?? A typical club tournament guarantees 3-4 games. Ten events at 35 games over a summer period is a lot of basketball. Some clubs will play 15-20 events in the same time frame, 50-60 games in a summer. A reasonable schedule of 30-35 summer games in addition to 35 High School games equates to 70 games from October to July a year for teenage age girls. Pros, and all the vast resources they have, played less games than a lot of local girls this season.

In an attempt not to be negative, I am trying to reason the need of so many games. Are parents and clubs using basketball as a constructive outlet for their children? Family time? Are they playing so many games to keep their daughters in shape? Maybe. I can see the reasoning behind all of those reasons. However, if parents are being sold on this road as the best way to development and gain scholarships, that is a lie!

The best players in the world, NBA players, get better in the summer! Not in a summer league but in personal workouts in the summer. Michael Jordan and his famed 'Breakfast Club' workouts at 7am with the likes of Scottie Pippin and Ron Harper are the example. The 'Hill Workouts" of Jerry Rice during the off season is what he credits for being the greatest receiver in NFL history, statistically.

I have watched local teams play too many games and the some of the "best" players years ago have not gotten better and there college suitors are minimal. If parents and club coaches are playing for school opportunities, obviously, playing upward of 100 games a year is NOT the way to go about it. It is quite the contrary.

SA Islanders are so San Antonio!

San Antonio is crazy about them Spurs. When first moving here in '07, I was surprised at seeing so many billboards, t-shirts, car flags, etc, proclaiming 'Go Spurs Go'. However, I found the passion for the local NBA team did not translate to the grassroots level, especially on the girls side. There is a team that the rabid Spurs disciples could get behind. They personify the city in many ways. Though I am far from being a Spurs fan, I have the utmost respect for how hard they play the game. In this way, The SA Islanders rep San Antonio as much as Timmy D and TP. Here are some of the reasons why they must be respected.

Amber Vidal 2015- Some kids are just not Ballers. Basketball is so accessible, many kids play the game. No matter how much some kids play the game, they will not become a Baller. Amber Vidal is NOT one of those kids. She runs like a Baller. Her stride is an athletic one, looking effortless. Her stroke from the outside is clean, ball rotating end over end. Her handle is strong enough to make sure she is not one dimensional.  She has basketball instincts, anticipating plays before they happen. She is quick but under control. She is defensively aggressive but not belligerent in her movements. Any former or current Baller will recognize a Baller when they see one. Vidal makes the game look easy, even at a few inches above 5 feet. Her size may limit some of her college opportunities but some school is going to get a steal in this kid.

Alexis Torres 2016- Torres has been a favorite of mine for years. Another kid with a small frame, her skill set is beyond her 8th grade years. She simply puts defenders on ice skates. Her 3 point range makes her a kid that defenders must run off of the line. She plays the point and does a great job of passing off of the dribble, with both hands.

Mikki Flores 2016-  There is not a tougher kid in the city! NO kid takes as many falls and collisions and jumps back up. Flores only knows how to play the game one way, HARD! Though she may not look the part, her offensive game must be respected. She has added a nice runner to her game and with her constant attacking style, she will earn repeated trips to the foul line.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Close but no cigar!!

USA u17 trials in Colorado this past weekend was one of the best outings for local kids, Recee' Caldwell and McKenzie Calvert that I have ever seen. The committee had a difficult choice with a number of high quality kids. The selection committee eventually settled on 11 players from 2013 class and 1 player from 2014, down from 3 players from 2014 last year. To put the into perspective, 3 players cut from the u17 team, were named to the u18 team today.


Caldwell was this years Kelsey Mitchell. Mitchell, the top ranked player in the class of 2014, according to ESPN Hoopgurlz, was surprisingly cut after a great showing last year. The cut left many analyst scratching their heads. Below is commentary of Caldwell's play from the staff of  grass roots basketball heavy weights, ESPN Hoopgurlz(Chris Hansen/Brandon Clay/Keil Moore), Blue Star Media(Mike Flynn, Prentice Beverly, Kevin Lynch), and All-Stars Girls Report( Bret McCormick). I will let their words and interviews tell the story but Caldwell showed extremely well. According to a source close to the selection process, she needed to shoot more. She was Rajon Rondo instead of being Chris Paul. She was Rondo last year and wrongfully thought that Rondo was want the only people who matter in the process, the selection committee, wanted. Many local followers were surprised at Caldwell being called a defensive stopper. I was not. Her offensive abilities and demanding minutes in both high school and club ball makes playing lock down defense secondary at times. As stated below by an analyst that was not a particular fan of hers( had a different horse in the race), Caldwell locked up some of the very best kids in the country. Unfortunately, the kid that is known as one of the best shooting/scoring point guards in the country and is being recruited as such, did not shoot enough to warrant a spot in the u17 world games. The following are tweets, an article and an interview by the analysts on hand. These include former college coaches, award winning journalists, former college players and 4 of the most respected evaluators in the land.

@KeilMoore Taya Riemer, Kaela Davis, and Recce Caldwell were fun to watch in this last scrimmage. Those three played very well together. (May 19)

@ASGR1995Great PG play with Reece' Caldwell TX Jordin Canada CA Lindsay Allen MD & Jessica Washington OK. They are smart smooth & make plays.(May 18)

@PBevBallNPrep ReCee Caldwell was str8 playing lock down D! Ready for battle (May 18)

@BrandonClayPSB First session rapping up. Light work tonight. They'll hit the ground running tomorrow. Thought '14 G Recee Caldwell was ready to work! (May 17)

@KeilMoore Recee' Caldwell was very effective on both sides of the ball in the first scrimmage. Good showing for her.(May18)

@klhoopsLindsay Allen really stood out last session against the top defensive pg at the trials Recee Caldwell, hit all her shots, no turnovers,(May 18)

@klhoops not a dis to Caldwell, just have not seen anyone play that well against her, she is a GREAT defender(May 18)

@MikeFlynn826USAB trials 17u D3 interview w Recee Caldwell

@HoopGurlz Recee Caldwell looking to step up at USA trials:

McKenzie Calvert

Calvert had a terrific showing. She encouraged and cheered for her teammates more than I have ever witnessed. She played her trademark smothering defense and did a good job running the point guard spot. In a conversation with one of the talent evaluators on hand, he came to the realization that she can go! He has seen Calvert a number of times in club ball and this was by far the best showing that he has seen from her. Calvert may have played her way into a Top 25 ranking with the analysts on hand. Being on one of the most watched club teams in the country has allowed her to play in front of these talent evaluators dozens of times. However, she showed them that she is indeed one of the best 2014 guards in the country this past weekend.

@KeilMoore Very good showing from McKenzie Calvert. The 2014 CG committed to Baylor. Active, energetic. She is making things happen.(May 18)

@PBevBallNPrepAlso like MCalvert LHarper NCoffey SMavunga(May 18)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Do as I Do! Do as I Did! Do Work!!!

Two of the best to ever have laced them up in the Alamo City, Meighan Simmons and CeCe Harper joins Recee' Caldwell in a truly elite training session. Both Simmons and Harper recently arrived home and jumped right back in the hot gym to get it done! This blog has been detailing the accomplishments of Harper and Simmons since 2008 and along with Len'Nique Brown, no players have been chronicled here more than these young ladies.

Caldwell has been focusing on her attempt to repeat as being the youngest member of America's team, USA u17. What better way to do it than a grueling workout with Simmons and Harper.

The last time Harper and Simmons were on the same court, they represented their college programs in the NCAA Sweet 16. Harper started at the guard for her Kansas Jayhawk squad while Simmons tallied 22 points for Tennessee Lady Vols.

The dynamic duo posed with some of the brightest young hoopers in the city. Mark my word, AT LEAST 7 of the young stars in the picture are eventual Division 1 players! These future achievers were delighted to be in the gym with SA past greats and present college standouts.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Carlie Heineman Commits!!!

Carlie Heineman has decided to stay close to home and be a Roadrunnner. The Marshall sharp shooter committed to UTSA this past weekend. Heineman has garnered a lot of attention and became a hot commodity after a very strong performance in the April exposure period. She followed up that  event with a great showing in Arkansas in front of one of the most respected recruiting evaluators in the country, Bret McCormick of All-Star Girls report.

The SA Finest White starting shooting guard has attended the UTSA elite camp the past couple of years. This marks the first time in recent memory that UTSA has received an early commitment. Heineman is ranked as #14 player in the class of 2012 for the state of Texas by Premier Basketball Report.

The ESPN Hoopgurlz article is here:

Congrats to the Heineman Family!!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Nike Regional Skills Love!!!

Congrats to the local kids who participated in the Nike Regional Skills Academy. Wendy Knight(SA Finest Blue/ Reagan), Brooke Allemand(SA Finest Blue/ Champion), Kyra Lambert(Sophia Young Elite/Steele), McKenzie Calvert(DFW Elite/ Steele) and Erica Sanders( Cy-Fair Shock/ Johnson.

Recee' Caldwell, a 3 time invitee passed on the event to prepare for USA try outs July17-20 in Colorado.

Brooke Allemand, Kyra Lambert and McKenzie Calvert all received some love from Blue Star Media.

Blue Star Media's Mark Lewis, one of the most respected evaluators in the country, wrote about Allemand and Lambert.

Prentice Beverly wrote about Calvert. Calvert will follow up her great weekend by attempting to make USA u17 team in Colorado. This is her second invite to the USA trials. Beverly has a great book on recruiting titled, " Navigating the Maze” and be purchased for $18 at This is a great book and a must have for any serious parent.