Ohio stars shine at USA 16U Trials
By Jim Dabbelt
If there ever was a doubt just how talented girls basketball is in Ohio, one would just have to look out west, at the USA 16U Trials in Colorado Springs. Nearly 150 of the nation’s top girls basketball players assembled in one spot to compete for 12 precious spots, which will be determined this morning.
Ohio was well represented at the trials with 10 girls at the start, and even when they made the cut down to the current 40 players, there are still four of them from the Buckeye state.
As they players try to get one more good night of sleep before the fateful day, four Ohio stars: Taylor Mikesell, Valencia Myers, Abby Prohaska and Bexley Wallace, have to suit up on Monday and await for the final announcement. The decision has to be made who will be the 12 players from around the nation who will represent the United States of America in the FIBA Americas U16 Women’s Championship June 24-28 in Puebla, Mexico.
“It is always competitive, there is nothing more competitive than this,” said Blue Star Media writer and former college basketball coach Mark Lewis. “The kids want this more than anything. They have never been cut in their lives and there were 149 who showed up and 12 will get a uniform.”
“It brings out everyones’ best game,” he added. “It does get wild and sloppy at times.”
35 kids are invited by the USA Basketball committee, and the rest come on their own. “When they are on the floor, nobody cares who was invited or who wasn’t ,” Lewis added. “Ten overall kids from Ohio were here, and four of them made through the first three cuts so far.”
Lewis also noted that all four of the Ohio players have done some good things and impressed those in attendance.
“Taylor (Mikesell) has played well and smart out here,” Lewis said of the Jackson super sophomore (to be). “She showed versatility and proved she is not a one-dimensional player. She is among the top five point guards here.”
Another player who showcased her talent was Prohaska, who was a key member of the state champions from Lakota West.
“She just won’t let you NOT notice her,” Lewis said of the budding superstar. “She just makes plays and is relentless. She is among a deeper pool of talent at the 2/3 spot.”
The one Ohio player that most experts around the country have already gotten to know over the past couple of years is Wallace, who shined as a freshman at Pickerington Central.
“She is starting to embrace the idea that she is a 4,” Lewis said. “She did some nice things the last 3 sessions. It appears she has leaned out since recruiting weekend. She came out of the gate slow, but started posting up strong.”
Myers also has developed into one of the top post players in the Class of 2018, and Lewis looks for her game to improve with her appearance at the trials.
“This was great for her, playing against kids her size,” he said. “There were 7-8 kids 6’4 and up. She was challenged in a very good way, and it brought out things in her. She belongs in the conversation in the top post players in the class.”
Mikesell was one of the players who chose to attend on her own, and fortunately for her, she made that smart decision. She was highly thought of heading into her freshman year at Jackson, and she feels this experience will help her with her game.
“This experience is amazing,” Mikesell said when returning to her hotel at the trials. “When we got there for check-in and got our USA uniform, its insane….it was amazing.”
“I didn’t know what to expect. Me and Abby (Prohaska) were walking to check the first cuts and we were nervous. We both see our numbers and looked at Bexley and Valencia and all found out we were still in this.”
“You don’t know what is going to happen playing out here with all of these great players, and you to play every possession. I knew I couldn’t underestimate anyone out here.” Mikesell knows that this experience will make her better as she takes the floor, not only for the Ohio Rising Stars in the July recruiting period, but her sophomore year with Jackson.
“There are still things I need to work on, like getting quicker,” she said. “I see people more explosive and it showed me what I need to do. I need to play harder every possession and I know I have to play through it and not take plays off.”
Wallace also knows this experience was something she can always take things from, and make her better.
“It has been crazy that I get an opportunity to be out here,” Wallace said. “This has really helped me to be a better team player and work even when you are tired and you know you can’t give up.”
Both Wallace and Myers (who was unavailable for comment when this was written) play together in the summer, which was something that was another positive for Wallace during her experience at the trials.
Prohaska, who plays for the Cincinnati Angels in the summer, knows how lucky she is to be at the trials, and doesn’t take anything for granted getting the chance to shine in front of the top players in the country.
“Coming into this, you have to be humble,” she said. “I set small goals for myself to make it to Sunday morning, so I just came in and did what I could control. Playing against the best competition in the world was an eye opener and it was amazing.”
“It was so great going through this with all of the Ohioans, and I really feel comfortable with all of them.”
“I can take a lot away from what I have learned out here,” she added. “These players are so amazing and they challenge you in ways you have never been challenged before. It makes me see what I need to work on as a teammate, and I am taking away skills I have never worked on before.”
Prohaska is no stranger to success, as she proudly wears the gold from a state title at Lakota West.
“The things I am bringing back to Ohio, I can bring back to my team at West,” she said. “It will help us grow and I can share skills and challenges I have learned out here. It is such an honor to be here.”
The final cut will take place Monday morning at approximately 10:30 a.m. Ohio time, likely after most of you read this. No matter the result of that sleepless nerve-wracking final event, all of the kids who attended this event will take away one thing.
They will learn that each of their games can get better, but they will also learn that each of them are among the very best the country has to offer.
It’s time for you to become a great player, no matter what anyone tells you!
By Jim Dabbelt
School is winding down, and most of you can tell me exactly how many days of school remain for this school year. I know my son probably has it broken down into hours and minutes. While your academic work may be taking a 3 month break so you can enjoy your summer, your athletic work is just beginning.
Most people who go to school with you can’t wait to sleep in, hit the beach, and pretty much lie around and do nothing all summer long. Not for you… that cannot happen.
While sleeping in and even enjoying fun like the beach and late summer evenings at the lake are totally acceptable for you, this will also be your chance to transform yourself from a good player, into an unstoppable player. If you just put some time into it.
Summer time is when star players are made. The high school season is focusing on doing your role for the team to be successful. The travel ball season (for a lot of teams) is all about getting thrown in front of college coaches (whether you are ready or not), and running up and down the floor as fast and much as possible to outscore your opponent.
While there are some programs in the summer that do great work on fundamentals and getting you better as a player, most of the time a lot of what you see is some people wanting to line their trophy case with plastic trophies. That is when you have to fend for yourself to become the best player you can become.
You have to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself one thing: do I want to become a better player for the next level? How do I do that?
While there are good, legit trainers who can help you develop your game, ultimately it all comes down to you. If you put the time in this summer, you will reap the benefits and rewards with a chance to possibly save your family a lot of money on college. Again though, that is all up to you.
Everyone has different goals. Some want to make varsity next year as a freshman, others who are older want to have some choices to be able to make from different colleges. Still others want to see their scoring improve, their shooting get better, and others want to shine defensively because that is what makes a difference a lot of times between two evenly-talented players.
I am a 100% advocate of this fact: if you want it bad enough, you will find time for it. Some food for thought: you have to control your own destiny. Sure, some people will help you along the way, but ultimately, the only person who can control how good of a player you can become is YOU. Going to a trainer without 100% effort and heart does no good. You have to buy into the method of becoming a great player, sacrificing some of your summer to focus on your ultimate goal.
Juniors, use this summer to visit some campuses, and start to narrow down your schools. Pick 3-4 elite camps from the schools where the interest is mutual, get on their campus and shine in front of those who make the decisions.
Putting your mind to it is the difference with no excuses. Take my mission for example. Even at my age, it is all about dedication. I have created the #90daystolose30 challenge, which gives me 90 days to work like never before to lose 30 lbs. My challenge began May 1, and by Aug. 1, I expect to fulfill my goal. Nobody can tell you that you cannot do it… nobody but yourself. Sometimes, proving people wrong is the greatest reward isn’t it? When someone tells you that you cannot achieve a goal on the basketball court, what do you want to do? Dominate and shine.
Will you be a different player when you walk onto the practice floor for the first time on October 23? Only time will tell, but you have a few months to make sure that you are.
Players giving back to the Miami Valley
By Jim Dabbelt
NOTE: The date and location is now finalized for this event.
For Carlisle High School graduate Alexis Murphy, she has a strong passion for the sport of basketball. Murphy is currently a junior at Nova Southeastern, a national power at the Division 2 level, but one thing is for sure… she hasn’t forgotten where she came from.
Murphy has created Hoops Through Life, a new camp that she will bring to the Dayton area this summer for girls in grades 6-12, which will bring together the chance to not only improve a players basketball skills, but much more including life lessons. The camp will run from June 4-7 at Hamilton High School and costs $225 for the week, or $200 early bird special.
“I was brainstorming to give back to the girls of the Dayton area, and I decided that running a camp would be a great thing to do,” Murphy said. “I have worked one-on-one but wanted to give more.”
Joining the former Indians player is former CJ basketball players Raytea Long and Simonne Gage, both close friends and former AAU teammates of Murphy.
“They both demonstrate a lot that is close to my heart,” Murphy said.
“This is my life from here on out, I just want to give back, and want to help the community where I live.”
Murphy and the camp staff will be focusing on four main aspects of a players’ life in addition to teaching them basketball using a college type of atmosphere. The keys to the camp will be communication, wellness, community and heart. Each day a different format will be the focus.
“You can learn anything with good communication, it’s a two-way street,” Murphy said. “Body language is important both on and off the court. We will also teach about the wellness of an athlete, both mental and physical, along with nutrition.”
“We will talk to the kids about the importance of giving back to the community like we are doing. It’s so much bigger than the game and the scoreboard. It shapes who you are.”
Joining Murphy on her camp staff in addition to Gage and Long are former area player Brooke Lewis and Lakota East graduate Molly Blomer. Murphy also credits her college coach Brooklyn Kohlheim as a mentor to her. Steve Hutchison, her former AAU coach also has been a huge asset for Murphy.
Murphy expects the camp to grow to other areas after launching it in Dayton.
“I am confident that we can expand this to other areas,” Murphy said. “We want to get to know each camper.”
The camp is $260 per person for the four days, with the early bird special of $235 for early registrations until April 20.
You can read more about the camp and register by visiting here: http://www.hoopthroughlife.co/#!maintenance/c66t.