Nike Skills: Day Two

Day Two of the Nike Girls Basketball Skills Academy featured a rare sight - girl hoopers dunking. That, and 21 of the country's top girls basketball players, were at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.

Harris of Indianapolis throws down (photos by Glenn Nelson)

BEAVERTON, Ore. – The second day of the Nike Girls Skills Academy at the Nike World Headquarters saw a much higher level intensity at both the morning and evening workouts. All 21 of the invitees were in attendance, and Nike Skills Academy National Director Kevin Eastman demanded a lot more from these budding young stars.

In the midst of this hard work, the girls found time for an impromptu dunk contest, which started and ended with Indianapolis, Indiana's Amber Harris. The 6-foot-6-inch forward started attempting one-handed dunks off the dribble, missing a couple off the back rim and rattling a few in. Next she went with the high lob off the bounce attempting to catch and dunk mid-air. After a few attempts, fellow 6-foot-6 post Ta'Shia Phillips decided to throw alley-oops from near the basket. She did get a few down this way and will be taking her dunk show to Purdue after high school. Her first dunk came in the eighth grade and she says she's dunked in games, too.

photo by Glenn Nelson
Others joined the act as well. UConn commit Tina Charles from Jamaica, N.Y., threw down a couple of two-handed dunks despite being three inches shorter than Harris. Perhaps the most impressive was the athleticism of Lawrenceville, Georgia's Maya Moore. The class of 2007 recruit was unable to convert any of her attempts cleanly, but at 6-1 was soaring as high as anyone in the Academy. She is an explosive one-foot jumper and finishes regularly rim high.

But a dunk is worth the same as a lay-in, and while it is exciting to see these young ladies skying for new heights, the focus of this camp is on offensive skill development. Perhaps the biggest change from the first day was the effectiveness of the post play. The host of promising young giants worked diligently in both sessions to learn how to position themselves and how to finish strong. In the scrimmage competitions, the post play was much better, due in part to more assertive play from the bigs and the guards allowing them to play.

The group split up into three teams:

Team AJayne Appel, Jessica Breland, Charles, Jacki Gemelos, Whitney Jones and Brittainey Raven.

Team B – Harris, Allison Hightower, Jantel Lavender, Italee Lucas, Moore and Jasmine Thomas.

Team CAngie Bjorklund, Cait McMahan, Morghan Medlock, Porsha Phillips, Ta'Shia Phillips and Monika Wright.

Dymond Simon and Elena Delle Donne did not participate in the scrimmages.

They ended up playing a round robin with everyone playing each opposing team once. Team A, behind the dominating inside presences of Appel, Charles and Breland, cruised past Team B in the first scrimmage 16-9. This needs to be qualified with the fact that there are no free throws shot and a running clock. Nevertheless, Team A was just outmatched inside; the pressure of Raven on the perimeter and the handle of Gemelos and Jones could not be matched.

The second game between Team A and Team C was closer, but the end result was a Team A win, 6-2, behind their imposing trio of interior players. The final game saw Team C beating Team B, 7-6, in a game that had the feel of a back and forth battle had it gone on longer than the seven-minute quarter.

Well, in order for the posts to succeed, they needed to receive the ball, and today highlighted some very good passing skills from the guards in the Academy. The most fundamental and consistent passer was Bjorklund of Spokane, Wash. She doesn't have quite the flash of Lucas or Gemelos but her passes were on the money most of the evening. Lucas had her fair share of sweet dishes, often times catching the posts off-guard. This prompted the coaches to remind everyone to always be ready for the ball, which is especially important with the host of talented ball handlers playing here.

Tomorrow will have more competitions and skill building as well as an athletic-agility test from SPARQ. They will be tested on four different time trials that test quickness, speed and agility. This will be a first for women's basketball on the SPARQ test but other female athletes in other sports have been tested.

More Coverage:
Nike Skills: Day One

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