How To Get Back Into Big Dance

"Dancing with the Stars" premieres the ninth edition of the nationally popular show in September. Each episode has the contestants sashaying across the dance floor in hopes of impressing the three-judge panel. Television audiences are not only entertained by the celebrity dancers but enamored with the distinct personalities of the three arbiters.



In a role reversal, the less well-known trio possesses the power over the more publicized competitors. Sounds similar to the recruiting process as big name schools seek the signature on a Letter-of-Intent from talented teenagers.

The University of Alabama's women's basketball program has been conspicuously absent from the NCAA's "Big Dance" since 1999. The decade long wall flower stance has rendered their dancing shoes obsolete but Head Coach Wendell Hudson and staff seemed poised to become fashionably relevant pending the decision of nationally renowned Alabama high school prep stars judging their program. Three attended the Tide's elite camp in June but have declared different timelines to announce their commitment replicating the actions exhibited by the television show's ensemble of evaluators.

Sometimes a judge is instantly infatuated with a performer and predetermines a winner in their mind constituting an early verbal commitment. Other times a decision may be reached during a critical juncture in the process halfway through the season's episodes similar to the early signing period in November. Occasionally the judge opts to absorb every round in the process before selection of the winner is determined thus resembling the late April signing period. Those scenarios reflect the judicial assessments displayed by three highly ranked in-state girl's basketball prospects.

Kaneisha Horn, a 6-1 wing player from Birmingham Ramsay High School coached by Robert T. Mosley is recognized by three well known recruiting services as one of the elite players, nationally and at her position. ESPN HoopGurlz presently lists her No. 5 overall and the No. 2 small forward while BlueStar Basketball and the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report rankings are No 3/ No. 1 and No. 6/No. 1 respectively.

The highly coveted prep star suffered an ACL tear in her knee last January subsequently curtailing her regular season and AAU summer circuit appearances with her club team, the Alabama Roadrunners. Receiving medical clearance in July, Horn continued her abstention from the sport on the recommendation of her personal trainer, Lou DeNeen, UAB's strength and conditioning coach for men's basketball and softball. Coach Lou as she calls him is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (C. S. C. S.) who prescribed a concentrated exercise program intent on strengthening the knee with the goal of preventing a recurrence of the injury.

The reserved laid back young lady as she is described by her mother Connie Horn has been receiving communication from schools across the country since eighth grade. A full recovery is projected for the start of October practice to the delight of the nine schools presently commanding her attention. In alphabetical order, Alabama, Duke, Florida, FSU, Georgia, LSU, Maryland, Rutgers and UCLA survived the original twenty-five school elimination round according to her Dad, Ben Horn. The proceeding phase tentatively slated for the fall will leave just five contenders willing to dance until the spring signing period. Kaneisha will receive an assist from her parents, AAU and high school coach along with a few other confidants who will act as a steering committee evaluating the remaining quintet of suitors. Academically she is enrolled in college preparatory courses with a 3.6 GPA. She intends to take the ACT again in October hoping to improve on her June score of 17.

Mobile LeFlore High School 6-4 center Shanece McKinney coached by Darrell Walton relishes the courting by schools but the recruiting process can by overwhelming. Enter her mother, Wanda Lee-Sanders, whose Excel spread sheet analysis has cleverly compartmentalized the exorbitant flow of comparative information for her youngest daughter's benefit. McKinney rated No. 79 overall and the No. 9 center by ESPN's HoopGurlz is still in the process of disseminating the pros and cons of each institution with intentions of a November early signing decision. BlueStar Basketball has her ranked No. 69 overall and the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report considers her No. 45 and the No. 8 center.

Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, Clemson, Duke, Florida, FSU, LSU, Rutgers and South Carolina are the top ten schools on her list with no designated favorite. Distance appears to be a non-factor as her mother will probably relocate to the selected school. Rutgers (9/4), Florida (9/18), Cincinnati (9/25), South Carolina (10/9) and Duke (10/23) are the five schools scheduled for official visits from the introverted young lady who scored a 20 on her ACT and holds a 3.4 GPA. Unofficial tours of Alabama and Auburn are planned along with visits to Clemson, FSU and LSU if time permits. A shoulder dislocation sustained in the spring did not interfere with her AAU schedule playing with the Georgia Blazers.

Tyrese Tanner called Auburn's Nell Fortner last Wednesday committing to the Tigers over the Crimson Tide according to Teresa Tanner, mother of the 6'2" Hoover High School athletic forward. Sidelined for the entire 2008-09 season due to a torn ACL and MCL, a dislocated knee cap and other ligament injuries, a completely recovered Tanner rejoined her AAU team this summer.

The difficult choice between the two in-state options hinged on the facilities, Auburn's current winning trend and post basketball connections said her mother, a member of the AAU Alabama Twisters staff. Coached at Hoover High School by Donnie Quinn, ESPN HoopGurlz rated her No. 75 overall and No. 13 at the small forward position. BlueStar Basketball lists her at No. 43 and the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report assigned her to No. 105 overall and the 11th rated power forward. Her announcement is deemed a firm commitment according to Quinn and Mrs. Tanner.

Alabama's recruiting dance has shown some panache as two of the three aforementioned prospective judges are still bedazzled by the efforts and the third was tantalizingly close to casting her vote with the Crimson Tide. One common chorus voiced by the trio of mothers is "I Love Joni" as in Crenshaw, the lead recruiter for Alabama.

Essential elements of footwork merged with timing produces success on the basketball hardwood as well as on the dance floor. An abundance of elite talent in the class of 2010 presents the opportune time for Wendell Hudson and his staff to honor the resurrection pledge by convincing high profile in-state players the "Elephant Stomp" is in vogue. Amidst the circus atmosphere of recruiting the crimson colored pachyderm has shown to be adept thus far in the competition but the judging is not final.

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