ATLANTA, Ga. - Building on the huge success of its National Skills Academy for Girls, offered in 2005 and 2006 for the top 22 players in the U.S. (juniors and younger), Nike decided to expand the development training camp concept in 2007 by offering four additional Nike Regional Skills Academies ("NRSA's"). These NRSA's will precede the National Skills Academy, to be held again June 29 to July 3 at Nike's World HQ in Oregon.
To help make these NRSA's be as successful as the original National Academy, Nike is using Ganon Baker, its national skills development trainer, as the lead instructor, and staffing them with Stephanie Wood and a select group of experienced high school coaches from each region. The four NSRA's are being held in April and May in Atlanta, Ga.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Philadelphia, Pa., and Santa Ana, Calif.
The first NRSA of 2007 was held at Atlanta's St. Pius X High School over the weekend of April 20-22, 2007. It was attended by 28 of the top players in the South (as far west as Texas, and as far north as Tennessee and Arkansas).
The top-ranked player in Atlanta was April Sykes, a 5-foot-11 guard out of East Oktibbeha County High School in Mississippi and the Essence club team, who is ranked No. 2 overall in the 2008 class by HoopGurlz.com. Due to a recent hand injury, however, she couldn't participate in the drills or the games, but she attended every session. With her height, strength, passing skills, and excellent shooting on show at Boo recently, Sykes no doubt will continue to shine this summer.
Another highly-ranked player who was in attendance but unable to participate in all of the sessions (because of her high school prom), was Charenee Stephens, 6-1, from Southwest Dekalb High School in Georgia and the Georgia Metros. During her limited participation, however, Stephens, ranked as the No. 7 forward in t2008 by Hoopgurlz.com, demonstrated her serious hops, in both her rebounding and jump shooting; her soft touch around the basket; and her solid work ethic.
In the first of two parts, we will look at eight of the top 2008 players, listed alphabetically. Tomorrow will be the remaining '08s, plus the underclassmen.
Class of 2008|
(CLICK ON NAMES FOR PROFILES)
LaSondra Barrett - 6-1 - W.B. Murrah HS, Miss. - Tennessee Flight|
A real active player; aggressive rebounder, and knows how to finish around the basket. Consistent intense effort on both ends, and always hustles. Also a good outside shooter with a quick release.
Taylor Dalrymple - 6-0 - Collins Hill HS, Ga. - Georgia Metros|
Dalrymple has a unique combination of strengths: she can post up bigger players because of her upper body strength and willingness to use her body to post them up hard; and she keeps offensive post players off balance and out of position when she defends them. But, she also can play the perimeter, as she passes and has court vision, as well as a form-perfect three-point shot.
Briana Gilbreath - 6-1 - Cinco Ranch HS, Texas - West Coast Elite|
Gilbreath is a versatile, well-rounded wing player, who plays aggressively on both ends of the court, and can score from outside and off the dribble drive. She rebounds well against bigger players, hustles after loose balls, and anticipates well on defense.
Tiffany Hayes - 5-10 - Winter Haven HS, Fla. - Essence|
Hayes showed her attacking style, going to the hoop strong. Her driving skill, by a left-hander, is matched with a consistently accurate, and often deep, three-point shot, which makes her a tough player to defend. Looked good in the games.
Destini Hughes - 5-10 - Waxahachie HS, Texas|
Hughes was the biggest surprise of the weekend, proving herself to be an exceptionally-gifted athlete. Although her skills were not as polished as some of the higher-ranked players who have been on the national scene longer, she has the quickness, the elevation on her jump shot and rebounding, and the shooting and finishing ability around the basket that will put her on everyone's radar screen before the summer is over.
Chelsea Lee - 6-2 - Monsignor Pace HS, Fla. - Essence|
Lee has the big, strong body that a post player needs to play underneath at a major DI school. She showed a solid work ethic in the drills, and she got after the boards on both ends during the games. A considerable force to reckon with on the inside, who runs the floor well, her stock will continue to rise this summer.
Alicia Manning - 6-1 - Etowah HS, Ga. - Georgia Metros|
A Tennessee commit, Manning demonstrated a tremendous work ethic, good leadership skills, and the kind of hard-nosed play that will serve her well under Coach Pat Summitt. Her upper body strength, and good elevation give her great range on her jump shot, including an accurate three-pointer. She also can rebound against bigger players.
The Nike Regional Skills Academy in Atlanta, 2007
Click Here for Part II
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