PHOTOS BY GLENN NELSON
Doreena Campbell's commitment this week is one that caused considerable buzz, and not so much because it meant that the UCLA Bruins landed the No. 83 prospect in the country. Rather, it was because Campbell lives some 2,289 miles away in Alexandria, Va.
While it is not very uncommon for boys to make cross-country commitments to college, it is pretty rare on the girl's side. There mostly is no girl's equivalent financial pull of NBA millionaire dreams, but there also are longtime influences of safety and family ties that influence a vast majority of girls to stay fairly close to home.
What made Campbell's commitment even more unusual was that she is going east to west. Most of the girls who uproot and head long distances usually are doing so to attend one of the traditional powerhouses on the East Coast (eg., Connecticut) or the South (ie., Tennessee). The biggest examples in the 2007 class are No. 2 prospect Angie Bjorklund going from Spokane, Wash., to Tennessee (approximately 1,889 miles), No. 5 Italee Lucas traveling from Las Vegas, Nev., to North Carolina (2,008 miles) and No. 15 Alex Montgomery going from Tacoma, Wash., to Georgia Tech (3,500 miles).
The exception to the reverse migration has been Stanford, which offers legendary head coach Tara VanDerveer plus it's status as "Harvard of the West" (a designation which no doubt rankles the Stanford community on some level). It is, more so, the rare true academic powerhouse that happens to offer scholarships to play Division I sports. So that's why an Ashley Cimino, the No. 72 prospect in 2007, is willing to travel some 2,711 miles from Portand, Me., and last year Melanie Murphy, the No. 49 prospect in 2006, was willing to make a 2,161-mile trek from Brooklyn, N.Y.
Campbell had opportunities to stay closer to home, also receiving offers from George Washington, Vanderbilt and Viriginia. But before anyone gets too excited that the four-star, 5-foot-10 guard has ignited a Head-West-Young-Woman trend, consider her circumstances, which include having an aunt who lives in Los Angeles.
"I am from a family with a military background who has traveled to many different countries outside of the United States," Campbell explained in an email. "I enjoyed visiting many different countries and seeing people from different backgrounds. For example, I just returned from a three week vacation visiting my Korean grandmother in South Korea in August. I believe it should not make a differnce where you go to college, but how you feel about a college. I liked all the colleges during my official visits. However, UCLA was the best fit for me because of the environment/curriculm, the coaching staff, and the players on the team."
It makes sense for a girl with her itinerant background.
Khadijah Rushdan, the top 10 prospect from Wilmington, Del., created a bit of a stir when she included "USC" among her favorites early this past summer. It was assumed she meant Southern Cal, though it was news to the Trojans staff. Now if Rushdan opts to make a 2,368-mile journey for basketball, that might be an indication of a budding trend.
(Of course, everyone will be hard-pressed to beat the 5,660 miles that Marisa Gobuty will fly from Tel Aviv to Syracuse, to whom she just committed on Friday).
Sleeper Cell I
She has heard it all summer and fall long: "You improve every time I see you." These words have been common from coaches and scouts across the country about Kari LaPlante, the 6-foot-5 post from Glendale, Ariz. The No. 88 prospect, according to HoopGurlz.com, committed this week to USC and brings size and athleticism to the floor.
LaPlante played this past summer for the Arizona Elite team based in Tempe, Ariz., with Stanford committ and HoopGurlz.com's No. 4 prospect, Kayla Pedersen. Besides seeing a player of Pedersen's work ethic she saw another "big" with a great deal of perimeter skills, something LaPlante too has put a tremendous amount of time into. She attributes much of her improvement to her club team coach, Kenny Drake, who coaches the AZ Elite's top travel team. "Coach Drake is amazing," LaPlante said. " Up until last year I didn't do a lot of extra things after practice and he put everything in perspective. I give him a lot of credit for (my improvement)." She's working a lot on strength training and was further motivated upon meeting USC freshman Hailey Dunham, who told her that she too was tall and skinny in high school.
"Hailey is ripped now," LaPlante said. "I want to be like that."
Kansas State was the first school to get in on her recruitment, having seen her play in her freshman year by chance, scouting another player. She ultimatley chose USC over Cal, Kansas State and Vanderbilt and is excited to join a rising program.
"(The Trojans) haven't peaked yet and I think I can help them on their way to the tournament," LaPlante said. "Also having the No. 1 recruiting class last year and getting to play with so many great guards will be great. I've never played with the best guards."
With a healthy Jacki Gemelos hopefully next year and a 2007 class that is starting to come together, LaPlante hopes she is the piece that puts the puzzle together for the future.
Sleeper Cell II
Chelsea Dale is a kid I watched grow up, as a player and young woman, from grade school through a good part of middle school, who a few years ago moved down to Southern California. I hadn't seen her again, until I walked into a gym in Suwanee, Ga., last summer, then again in Las Vegas. In both places, I saw much of what I remembered from her days running around in the Seattle area - a great teammate, shooter and ballhandler.
What had changed? She's now 6 feet 2, with the skills and athleticism to maybe play the point. And this week she also committed to Colorado, which may have gotten away with the recruiting equivalent of grand larceny.
I know what a lot of you are wondering: How in the heck is this girl not ranked in the HoopGurlz Hot 100 and rated as just a three-star prospect?
Well, by the time we saw her, Dale was coming off a bout with mononucleosis. And she was playing on the Finest Basketball Club (FBC) Blue team, where Nikki Speed plays the point, sharing it some with Israeli Marisa Gobuty, the No. 96 prospect who committed just today (Friday) to Syracuse.
For the record, Dale, who is a senior at Palos Verdes High School in California, chose Colorado over Air Force, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon State, Pepperdine, Santa Barbara, Texas Chrisian and UNLV - all of whom I'm certain Chelsea knew inside and out before she made her decision.
Caroline Doty of Doylestown, Pa., the No. 11 prospect by HoopGurlz in the 2008 class, has pared her list of schools down to five - Connecticut, Maryland and Tennessee lead
Notre Dame and Penn State. The 5-foot-10 combo guard who vaulted into elite status with a great summer, Doty will be making an unofficial visit to Connecticut for the Oct. 13 Supershow and an unofficial to Tennessee at the end of October. ... One of the most decorated girls to come out of Alaska, Talisa Rhea, a 5-11 point guard, has committed to Oregon State. The two-time Alaska State Player of the Year chose the Beavers over Arizona, but also was recruited by Cal State, Long Beach State, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Hawaii, Pepperdine, San Diego, Utah State and Wyoming, according to her Juneau-Douglas High School coach, Lesslie Knight. "She can mix is up and shoot the deep three," Knight said of Rhea, "but is most famous for her ability to 'thread the needle,' feeding her teammates for easy layups and control the tempo of the game. She was heavily recruited." Rhea chose Oregon State because she wanted to play in the Pac-10 and is impressed with coach LaVonda Wagner's efforts at building the program, Knight added. ... Jaimie Givens, a 6-1 forward-guard at The First Academy in Orlando, Fla., has committed to Florida Atlantic. Givens is the daughter of Orlando Comets coach Jack "Goose" Givens, renowned for his 41-point performance for Kentucky against Duke in during the 1978 NCAA championship game. She also is a teammate of Krystal Thomas, a HoopGurlz All-American and Duke commit, at First Academy and the Comets. ...
Janessa Wolff, 6-3 center from Park Rapids, Minn., has committed to Penn State. Ranked 43rd in the HoopGurlz National Hot 100 for 2007, she averaged 25.4 points, 12.1
rebounds and 4.3 blocks for Park Rapids High School as a junior. An excellent defender and rebounder, Wolff is ranked as the seventh-best post in the country by HoopGurlz. ... Creighton has received verbals from two members of the HoopGurlz Hot 100 - Kelsey Woodard, a 5-10, sharp-shooting guard from Bellevue, Neb., and Kellie Nelson, a 6-3 center from Omaha, Neb. Woodard is the nation's No. 91 prospect and Nelson is 97th. The two were teammates on the Omaha Crusaders club team... Natalie Novosel's strong summer with the Tennessee Flight Silver team continues to pay dividends. The 6-foot guard-forward from Lexington, Ken., has offers from Kentucky and Louisville and now is being recruited by UConn. ... A couple more All-Ohio teammates have made commitments. Megan Askew, a 6-foot guard-forward from Pickerington, Ohio, has verbaled to Xavier, while Kyla Rollins, a 6-2 forward from Warrensville Heights, Ohio, has chosen Ohio University. ... Notre Dame High School in Fairfield, Conn., has a couple of players attracting Division I attention. Taylor Simmons, a 5-8 senior guard, is being recruited by Fairfield, Siena and St. Peters, and Candace Williams, a 6-3, 270-pound junior center, is getting interest from Fairfield and Old Dominion.
Glenn Nelson is the publisher of HoopGurlz.com and the editor-in-chief of Scout Media (www.Scout.com), an online sports network and magazine-publishing company and subsidiary of Fox Interactive Media. Glenn also founded and coached
the Dragons and Northwest HoopGurlz select girls basketball teams. He previously was a longtime, national-award-winning basketball columnist and writer for The Seattle
Times. His work also has appeared in several national magazines and books. He is co-author of "Rising Stars: The Ten Best Players in the NBA" (Rosen Publishing, 2002). He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Hansen is the National Director of Scouting for Women's Basketball at HoopGurlz.com and Scout.com. Chris leads the panel that evaluates and ranks girl's basketball
prospects nationally for HoopGurlz and Scout.com. Chris has been involved in the women’s basketball community since 1998 as a coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.