Ballhandling drill (photo by Chris Hansen)
BEAVERTON, Ore. – The Nike Girls Skills Academy kicked off Thursday night at the Bo Jackson Gymnasium on the Nike World Headquarters. In all there are 22 kids here, 18 today with the remaining four slated to join the group tomorrow. Unlike an exposure tournament or USA Basketball trials, this event has but one goal _ to make the best better.
Names you may know such as Jacki Gemelos, Tina Charles and Jayne Appel are all here, but there are no college coaches to impress, just a gathering of some very talented prep players and some excellent instruction as only Nike can do. Helping out in the Skills academy are WNBA analyst and former professional player and coach Nancy Lieberman, 2002 WNBA All-star and current ESPN analyst Stacey Dales-Shuman and the NCAA's all-time leading scorer and 2001 WNBA Rookie of the year Jacki Stiles - all joining Nike Skills Academy's National Director Kevin Eastman. Eastman is a former collegiate coach and currently is the Director of Player Development for the NBA's Boston Celtics.
Jacki Gemelos (photo by Glenn Nelson)
The structure of this camp is much different than an exposure camp or tryouts. There are a limited number of participants and each one has an evaluator assigned to them. At the end of the camp these evaluators will sit down with each player and go over the details of their games that could use some work. Most of the academy is spent on drill work and the first day ended with a series of scrimmages.
Today there was a great deal of time spent on ball handling, and yes even the kids 6-foot-3 and up had to work on their handle. The posts were undoubtedly relieved when they split into post and perimeter groups and were able to work in the paint.
One thing is evident - all of these kids are athletic. Some are ahead of others in skill set and basketball IQ, but all of these kids can move. In the coming days their athleticism will be put to the test with a new evaluating system called SPARQ. They will be tested in four different agility, strength and quickness tests, and their times will all feed into a scoring system. While these test claim to evaluate athleticism, they do have their limitations and their critics. Nevertheless it is another way to compare and contrast these young athletes as they strive for the next level.
Nike Skills Academy Participants:
|Jayne Appel||Pleasant Hill, Calif.|
|Angie Bjorklund||Spokane, Wash.|
|Jessica Breland||Kalford, N.C.|
|Tina Charles||St Alban's, N.Y.|
|Elena Delle Donne||Centreville, Del.|
|Jacqueline Gemelos||Stockton, Calif.|
|Amber Harris||Indianapolis, Ind.|
|Allison Hightower||Arlington, Tex.|
|Delaquesa Jernigan||East Chicago, Ind.|
|Whitney Jones||West Monroe, La.|
|Jantel Lavendar||Euclid, Ohio|
|Italee Lucas||North Las Vegas, Nev.|
|Cait McMahan||Maryville, Tenn.|
|Morghan Medlock||Harbor City, Calif.|
|Maya Moore||Lawrenceville, Ga.|
|Porsha Phillips||Stone Mountain, Ga.|
|Ta'Shia Phillips||Indianapolis, Ind.|
|Brittany Raven||Fort Worth, Tex.|
|Dymond Simon||Avondale, Ariz.|
|Jasmine Thomas||Fairfax, Va.|
Nike Skills: Day Two