I bleed Purple and Gold. I think Raider Silver and Black. My palate prefers In and Out Burgers, Roscoes Chicken and Waffles and Consuelos carne asada tacos. Though Cali is HOME, my home is San Antonio and it is The Tone that I now represent.
Club basketball has hot spots. Like Cali, Dallas and Houston have been at the forefront of talent. However, San Antonio has now earned national respect. Gone are the days where all the best players have to leave the city to get their just do. In fact, here is an interesting fact:
The three local highest rated players in their respective classes, all play for San Antonio based club teams:
2014 Recee' Caldwell- HG #7, ASGR #9, Peach State #6
2015 Kyra Lambert- HG Top 25, Peach State #18
2016 Amber Ramirez- Peach State #15
All three players are in the Top 25 and on pace to be potential McDonald All-Americans.
San Antonio is a mid-major city! I have written a pretty detailed blog to explain my reasoning behind that statement. Part 2 of that argument is still under works. I am having a hard time not offending people, which is not the intent of this blog, so Part 2 is taking longer than planned. Like many mid-majors, we are heavy at the top but get thin in the middle when compared to "hot beds" around the country. Like Gonzaga's Courtney Vandersloot, we have a few players that can play almost anywhere in the country. Players like Baylor bound McKenzie Calvert and Caldwell( a Baylor de-commit) have more than enough options. Caldwell is being heavily pursued by national powers UConn, Duke, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas, Stanford, LSU, Kentucky, Louisville, Oklahoma, etc, just to name a few. Like the deep 2010 class, players like Meighan Simmons had her choice of schools and her success at Tennessee validated her national standing. The difference is that many hot beds have multiple Meagans. They have dozens of D1 players in one class.
That said, the strides by local club teams, pointedly SA Finest Basketball, has sent a clear message to the country that San Antonio players need not to travel elsewhere to get their proper respect.
TeamXpress was a major player on the national scene. Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil was the standard bearer. However, CDW drew heavily from a national talent base. Atlanta's Kyra Crosby, Oregon's Krystal Forthan and Louisiana's Tank Youngblood traveled to the Alamo City to play with TeamXpress. Currently, Sophia Young Elite too draws from a talent beyond the greater San Antonio area. Though SYE is San Antonio heavy many star players are from the greater Central Texas area.
SA Finest has blazed a path. Home grown talent can play with any team in the country.
- A six point loss to Nike Cy-Fair Shock(PBR Super 64 Champs) without Recee' Caldwell in April
- A 12 point win over Adidas Showcase champ NJ Sparks Elite in July
- A 3 point loss at buzzer to PBR Super 64 Final Four Missouri Phenom
- Victories over national respected Albany Rocks, Epiphany Prince Elite, Cal Ballerz
- A double digit victory over West Virginia Thunder by SA Finest White
An Elite 8 finish in PBR Super 64 and an Sweet 16 finish at Battle of the Boro with homegrown talent speaks volumes. Sophia Young finished in the Sweet 16 as well in the Battle of the Boro.
SA Finest White has 9 players. 6 of 9 have been with SAF White since middle school. 4 of 9 have been offered by D1 institutions. All 4 D1 offered kids received offers by playing in SA Finest uniforms. 6 of 9 players are being recruited by D1 institutions. All 9 players are being recruited by colleges/universities.
In total, 18 of 18 players on SA Finest White and SA Finest Blue are being recruited. 15 out of 18 are being recruited by D1 institutions, 11 of 18 have been offered, 9 out of the 11 offered kids have been with SA Finest since middle school!
All that to say, development and loyalty pay off. Many hot bed programs in bigger cities use fear to attract San Antonio talent. I was told that Recee' Caldwell would not get a USA invite to u16 without a major backer. She was not only invited, she made that team! She would supposedly not get the proper exposure with SA Finest, yet she can basically go to whatever school she chooses. She reportedly cannot be an All- American with SA Finest, maybe not, but does that really matter in the overall scheme of things?
In speaking with one of the more respected college coaches in the country, he/she lamented the fact that more teams don't do it the "old way". He/she went on to explain that the old way did not include mass recruiting and out of town warriors. The old way had club coaches that taught kids for years and developed. The new way includes teams and programs that function as NBA teams with a salary caps and draft lotteries. For what, trophies?!!! The kids that make up most of these nationally respected all star teams all will go to play basketball anyway.
To claim that that one must be on the best team to play the best competition is misleading. My daughter shoots at lunch with a JV boys player. This kid is 6'4 and reverse dunks it off the back board with ease. If he was a girl, he would be the #1 kid in the country, easily. Surprisingly, he likes to rebound for my daughter. He is OK with playing her 1 vs 1. He has no problem being physical against her, hand checks and all! In fact, there are a dozen 6 foot plus athletic boys ball players at her school that welcomes her in games! To claim that you need to play on a particular circuit, on a particular team, to face real competition is comical. It is well known that McKenzie Calvert trainer has some of the best boys players in the city in his gym. In fact, I ran into one of them that recently committed to Tennessee at the airport on Thursday. Calvert faces BCS bound boys often. NO girl(s) in the country is better than whom she faces on a regular basis during training.
This is not a SA Finest commercial. Just like I often wrote of TeamXpress and the SA Lady Rohawks of old and their accomplishments, this a public announcement of doing it the old way. Developing, training, teaching, educating players and parents works!!! The game is the game. Many of the powers that claim to hold the key to success, never have even played the game! If they did, they would probably stop with the misleading sales pitches that to shine, SA kids must leave. San Antonio has a bright future that can only get brighter with help of good local club coaches and parents that understand college coaches will come if their kids stay!