Nike: Charles in Charles

UConn commit Tina Charles had a dominant performance during the scrimmages while Jasmine Thomas stepped up and Cait McMahan continued to shine at the Nike Skills Academy in Beaverton, Ore.

Jantel Lavender vs. Jayne Appel

Angie Bjorklund

Photos by Chris Hansen

BEAVERTON, Ore. - Day Three started with a gut check for all the prep stars doing there thing at the Nike Girls Skills Academy and finished with Tina Charles showing why she was recruited by the best programs in the country and a breakout day for Jasmine Thomas of Falls Church, Va.

When you're a superstar you get away with things some players don't; it's just the way it is. Well, that crap doesn't fly at the next level (college) and the level beyond that (WNBA). Your accomplishments in high school don't buy you a single second of time in college and certainly don't get you time or money in the WNBA. An undisclosed camp participant was late for the bus and prompted long speeches from many of the Academy instructors on opportunity, responsibility and most of all that these young athletes, while stars on their teams at home, have not arrived yet. The work isn't done, it's hardly begun. After a good heartfelt butt chewing from Academy Director Kevin Eastman, a very to the point speech from former UCLA and Cal State-Fullerton coach Billie Moore and concluded with a speech from Stacey Dales-Shuman they got back to work.

Kevin Eastman makes a point
Charles brought her energy and determination to the floor when the scrimmages started up this evening. Charles was teammed with Monica Wright, Brittainey Raven, Jessica Breland and Cait McMahan and went 2-0 today in their six-minute mini-games. Game One between Charles team (Team B) and the team of Jayne Appel, Amber Harris, Allison Hightower, Italee Lucas and Whitney Jones (Team A), ended with a Charles baseline drive and powerful finish on Harris. That bucket put Team B up 10-8 with 12 seconds remaining. A running clock and a rushed shot later and it was over.

Game Two between Team B and the team of Angie Bjorklund, Jacki Gemelos, Jantel Lavender, Morghan Medlock, Ta'Shia Phillips and Thomas was all about Charles. In the 16-8 win she scored 10 points of those points in just six minutes. She was dominating with her pivots, on the glass and blocking shots. She was everywhere in a short amount of time. She was giving up size and height to both Phillips and Lavender but would not be denied. It was the most dominant performance of all the mini-games thus far.

Today's drill work progressed to some two-on-two, three-on-three and four-on-four drills. They spent a lot of time working the pick and roll. Thomas excelled in the two-on-two and skill development work today. She is a strong guard with good balance, quickness and explosive leaping ability. She struggled coming off the pick-and-roll at first trying to make a quick pass after just one dribble beyond the screen but took the instruction and figured it out. She was tenacious on defense in the live play as well, a feat that has been rare in this offense-intensive camp. Thomas showed some quick explosive mid-range pull up jumpers with good form and touch. She has been a little inconsistent with her deep range streaking both on and off at times but had a great day from the morning session through the evening session.

McMahan in the middle
Cait McMahan had a solid day as well. She was the catalyst in today's "Charles In Charge" show, handling the ball pressure and getting her team to get the ball into Charles almost every trip down. That's not an easy chore in a setting like this where everyone is used to being the star and making things happen for their team. She dropped numerous dimes throughout the day and seemed to be the most poised of the bunch running the pick and roll as well. She was coming off and making the correct reads and when the pass wasn't immediately there she showed the court savvy to draw the play out keeping her eyes on the seems and threading the needle on many occasions. The only glaring need is a quicker release to give her the ability to use the pull up with confidence and consistency. She continues to show her ultra-competitiveness throughout the Academy.

Several kids were limited today by minor injuries. Elena Delle Donne was out again sick and wasn't in the gym at all today. Whitney Jones, Morghan Medlock, Porsha Phillips and Dymond Simon were all out at least part of the day ailing and treating. Tomorrow the camp wraps up with another round of drill work, some more scrimmage competitions before the campers sit down individually with their evaluators to discuss what they need to do to continue their success on the next level. The theme of the day though was set first thing in the morning when the message was sent; if you want to be successful in college you can't take opportunities for granted and accept efforts less than you better demand your best always, get outside your comfort level and continue to develop your game continually.

More Academy Coverage:
Nike Skills: Photo Gallery
Nike Skills: Day Two
Nike Skills: Day One

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