NIKE CAMP REPORT #1 (Sparks and Monarchs)
Introduction: This was Bob Sternvogel's second experience attending Nike Camp. Capri Small and Bob Richards are veterans of several additional years' worth of sessions. Although we attempted to coordinate our movements so that we could each see all eight teams in action, the staff “threw us a curve” on our second day by not adhering to the match-ups posted in the original schedule. Thus, this first of our four reports will feature the girls assigned to the Sparks and Monarchs, and (as Capri was not privileged to catch these athletes in action) will consist solely of Bob Sternvogel's impressions. Accordingly, he will use such first-person pronouns as “I” and “me” for the remainder of this installment.
Some player evaluations will feature links to evaluations also completed by Bob Richards, contained in a column elsewhere on the Old Gold Free Press site. Some player evaluations will also have a link to photos taken at the camp (where available).
How to read the top line of each mini-profile below:
* Prospects are alphabetized by last name. Number (e.g., #1) is the number assigned that girl at the Nike Camp. Each player's name and high school are reproduced from the roster received at camp. Year is the one in which the athlete is expected to graduate from high school.
* City and/or state in parentheses is the location of the school. Height is as printed on the roster sheet, recorded by Nike in the player's bare feet. Year is the one during which the athlete is expected to graduate from high school. Team is that to which the player was assigned during the camp. Any errors (including misspellings) in any of these categories are attributable to Nike.
BOWMAN, Chante (#38). 2004 -- Detroit (MI) Cass Technical, 5’11” (Sparks)
Although her name wasn’t on Thursday’s injury list, I never noticed her on the court if she did indeed play.
BULEY, Sade (#40). 2004 – Kernersville (TN) South Doyle, 5’11” (Sparks) PHOTO
On Wednesday, I was singing her praises. She caught a nifty chest pass from a teammate and drove in for the deuce. Not long after that, she took the ball right away from a Monarch, only to be denied an assist when a Spark missed a “bunny”. Taking matters into our own hands a few minutes later, Sade confidently buried a trey. After a short halftime break, Buley went back to work. On an early possession, a flashy exhibition of dribbling and ball control was capped by a stunning move on which she crossed under the basket and laid the ball up and in from what appeared to be an impossible angle. Subsequently, she nailed another three-pointer to cap an excellent performance.
In Thursday’s clash with the Mystics, Sade looked ordinary at best. When she was out of the lineup, I saw her limping while attempting to run, so I’ll assume that injury was the culprit that prevented her from dazzling me anew. She did continue to demonstrate her range from behind the arc, and her overall performance for the two days was good enough to earn the rising senior one of the six spots on my All-Camp honor squad.
COLEMAN, Marissa (#53). 2005 – Washington (DC) St. John’s College H.S., 6’1” (Sparks) PHOTO
She’s not the best choice to bring the ball up the court, as she demonstrated when she got stripped by Sade Wiley-Gatewood. Marissa did distinguish herself on defense, most notably by cutting off a dribbler and forcing the Monarch to abruptly change direction. Also blocked a shot and threw a long, accurate bounce pass that Buley turned into an assist. Besides battling on defense until the final buzzer, Coleman showed she could score from behind the arc.
Against the Mystics, Marissa showed decidedly unorthodox shooting form on what I can best describe as an off-balance push jumper that missed the mark. If she was attempting to create, I’ll suggest she’d be best advised to scrap the move. Then again, she maintained control of a behind-the-back dribble, and later impressed on a rebounding opportunity with her vertical leap and aggressive battling for the ball. Overall, not a great camp, but not a bad one.
GRIFFIN, Darrice (#17). 2004 – Seagraves (TX) H.S., 6’1” (Sparks) PHOTO
On Wednesday, her only noteworthy effort was tipping a long pass away by demonstrating a combination of speed and leaping ability that made me think she’d be a great candidate to play safety in the NFL if she were a man. Early in Thursday’s game, she took it to the hoop with authority, misfired, but followed her shot and battled for the rebound. Otherwise, she failed to distinguish herself in my eyes.
HARPER, Laura (#83). 2004 – Wyncole (PA) Cheltenham, 6’3” (Monarchs) PHOTO
Laura showed a good fundamental grasp of rebounding technique by keeping her hands up when battling on the boards, as well as by zeroing in on the ball. On more than one possession, she missed, but grabbed the carom and immediately put up a follow shot. In addition to persistence on the glass, she demonstrated a general knack for converting in the paint, and seemed to have the hoop in mind whenever she got the rock in what she deemed to be scoring position. Against the Shock Thursday, she even pushed the ball into the basket while airborne. Harper also anticipates well, whether timing her leap on an attempted block or getting into the passing lane to pick off an errant toss. Her most glaring weakness is her apparent inability to bring the ball up the floor, whether by dribbling or otherwise. An attempted cross-court pass in the backcourt didn’t come close to its target. Still, as Dick Vitale would say, Laura’s a PTP (prime-time player), baby! If there were a seventh slot on my All-Camp team, she’d fill it, and fill it well.
LANGHORNE, Crystal (#44). 2004 – Willingboro (NJ) H.S., 6’2” (Sparks) PHOTO
Crystal showed she could catch, turn, and shoot from the side of the lane. She’s not afraid to put the ball up in traffic, although she would be well advised to occasionally pass the rock back out instead of attempting to score over a double- or triple-team. Although she mystifyingly failed to collar one rebound after showing some “ups” and getting a hand on the ball, Langhorne appeared to believe that she was entitled to snare any errant shot that came near her. Her talent is undeniable, but needs to be harnessed a bit.
MITCHELL, Janie (#48). 2004 – Jackson (MS) Callaway, 6’0” (Monarchs)
If Janie wasn’t yet fully conscious at the start of Wednesday’s action, she received a rude awakening when she drove the lane and put up a shot that was summarily rejected. She did later demonstrate that she knew how to establish position on the offensive board. Still, her overall effort was a lackluster one. On Thursday, Mitchell redeemed herself somewhat by taking the ball to the hole with determination and shrugging off contact to finish. Shortly before halftime, she went up for a shot, had the ball tipped away, and reclaimed possession – only to miss her second-chance attempt from the floor. Towards the end of the game, Janie scored on a neat little hook shot. Still, she didn’t particularly distinguish herself during the week.
MONTGOMERY, Renee (#6). 2004 – South Charleston (WV) H.S., 5’7” (Sparks) PHOTO
A point guard needs to know how to dribble, and on Wednesday, Renee quickly showed she was equal to the task. Although solid fundamentally, she’s also speedy, and proved she could create when she motored coast-to-coast on a successful drive to the hole. Against the Mystics on Thursday, however, Montgomery’s role seemed to be to bring the ball into the frontcourt and then disappear from the offense. Perhaps this was related to the fact that the tussle with the Monarchs had demonstrated that her form on the pull-up jumper needs to be refined, if not completely overhauled.
PARIS, Courtney (#93). 2005 – Piedmont (CA) H.S., 6’3” (Monarchs) PHOTO
Right now, she and sister Ashley are known as the daughters of former San Francisco 49ers’ offensive lineman Bubba Paris. If her performance against the Sparks is any indication, Bubba may soon have to get used to being introduced as “Courtney’s dad”. Courtney quickly established herself as a presence by going up for a rebound, tipping the ball, and then gaining possession after the sphere caromed off an opponent’s body. Not long after that sequence, Paris showed she could “go low” as she bent down to make a steal. For a truly big girl, Courtney has a decent “handle” on her dribble, both in the open court and in traffic. She can also “throw long” for the assist. She catches the ball well, and has a decent shooting stroke from anywhere within 10 feet of the hoop. On her last play of note Wednesday, a put-back opportunity, she caught the ball for just a split second before dropping in the deuce. Not a true tip-in, but the capper to an excellent afternoon. Her only glaring weakness is her free-throw form, which can charitably be described as reminiscent of Shaquille O’Neal’s.
On Thursday, Courtney continued to dominate down low. Soon after an early put-back, she tracked down a teammate’s errant attempt to inbound the ball. On both the offensive and defensive boards, she was confident and persistent. In the second half, Paris showed she could hit from medium range as well as from the territory closer to the hoop. She also continued to own the glass to the end as she cemented her selection to my All-Camp team.
PARRISH, Antelia (#75). 2004 – Forestville (MD) Bishop McNamara, 6’0” (Sparks) PHOTO
Although Antelia didn’t really distinguish herself Wednesday, she did demonstrate three-point range and defensive attentiveness against the Monarchs. On Thursday, she was much more active. One minute, she was “skying” for a rebound. A few seconds later, she ducked under a couple of defenders and took it to the rack. Although she missed the shot, she didn’t seem to lose any confidence. The next time Parrish got the ball in what she deemed scoring position, she zeroed in on the hoop – and converted.
PICCONI, Brittny (#22). 2004 – Thornton (CO) Horizon, 5’9” (Sparks) PHOTO
Although many of the girls seemed to be auditioning for highlight films by showboating at every opportunity, Brittny quickly established herself as a classic, by-the-book student of fundamentals. Her dribbling form is impeccable, and she went to the floor to save the ball on the baseline and gain control before passing to a teammate. On Thursday, Picconi displayed outstanding form as she connected on two early treys. Although her third try “from downtown” was an air ball, it didn’t change the fact she acquitted herself quite well in Indianapolis.
QUIGLEY, Allie (#10). 2004 – Joliet (IL) Joliet Catholic Academy, 5’10” (Monarchs) PHOTO
Athletically, Allie wasn’t the most gifted player at the camp. To her credit, she seemed to recognize this, and backed off to avoid getting too far under the hoop when she realized she was headed into the “tall timber”. When dribbling, Quigley reacted well to opponents’ attempts to disrupt her rhythm. Before heading up the court, she checked the defensive alignment. She won’t dazzle her future coaches and fans, but she also won’t frazzle their nerves.
RAYFORD, Lori (#60). 2004 – Inglewood (CA) Lynwood, 5’11” (Monarchs) PHOTO
Since Lori didn’t appear to be at full speed, she might have been playing through a nagging injury or two. She did have one nice drive to the hoop for a score, and was more than willing to pass the ball. Still, the Nike Camp experience couldn’t have raised her profile very much.
THOMPSON, Amanda (#21). 2005 – Chicago (IL) Whitney Young, 6’0” (Monarchs)
Although Wednesday’s first note on Amanda was that she lost her handle in traffic, she quickly atoned for that error by getting the ball in the open court and finishing her drive to the hoop. Later, she threw a truly wild shot off the top of the backboard. On Thursday, Thompson got off to an electrifying start by releasing well off a rebound, tracking down an errant pass from a teammate, and canning a fade-away from the side of the hoop. She regularly accelerated impressively when “taking it to the hole”, but missed more attempts than she should have. By the end of her college career, she could be something special, but her coach will probably have a head full of gray hairs – or, perhaps, be completely bald from the stress.
WANER, Abby. 2005 – Highlands Ranch (CO) Thunder Ridge, 5’10” (Monarchs)
No number listed. I don’t know if she even showed up.
WILEY-GATEWOOD, Sade (#1). 2004 – Lynwood (CA) H.S., 5’9” (Monarchs) PHOTO
On Wednesday, she stole the ball from Marissa Coleman, but Sade didn’t catch my attention again until she flipped a fancy pass from the side of her chest as the first half was drawing to a close. Against the Shock Thursday, however, Wiley-Gatewood quickly established herself as a long-range threat by nailing two early treys. She then accelerated well and finished on an open-court drive, but proceeded to fall under my radar until she made an athletic attempt to save the ball. Unfortunately, she did so at the wrong end of the court, and deflected the ball to an opponent who proceeded to cash in the “gift” scoring opportunity. In short, Sade failed to live up to her advance billing. She may well garner numerous All-America honors before her collegiate career ends, but I can’t say she deserves a slot on my honor squad.
WILLIAMS, Natasha (#61). 2004 – Skokie (IL) Niles North, 6’3” (Sparks) PHOTO
Against the Monarchs, Natasha’s teammates seemed to be ignoring her. On Thursday, however, she established herself on defense by hustling to bat a Shock pass away. Later, she called for the ball and hit from the lane once she received the pass. If I had been grading the players, however, I’d have to give Williams an “Incomplete”.
WISDOM-HYLTON, Lindsay (#46). 2004 – Naperville (IL) Neuqua Valley, 6’1” (Monarchs) PHOTO
Against the Sparks, Lindsey quickly established that she has good shooting form from the edges of the paint. Later, she showed that her range extends to the arc, and also scored by taking the ball to the rack. She capped her afternoon by making a steal and bouncing a pass to Amanda Thompson for a layup. On Thursday, she continued to show off her power moves to the goal. Although one such move landed Wisdom-Hylton too far underneath to score, her awkward attempt landed in the hands of Courtney Paris, who proceeded to convert the opportunity. Near the end of the first half, Lindsay made a nice hustle play by knocking a pass away before chasing the ball down. I now see why she’s so high on so many Purdue fans’ wish lists.