SOUTH LAKE, Texas– While the NCAA Fall Evaluation Period usually signifies the end of the “club” or non-scholastic season, it doesn’t mean players and coaches aren’t still in the gym getting the work done. The second annual Southwest Sports Alliance Skill Academy took the floor of Carroll Senior High School just northwest of Dallas this past Saturday providing athletes one last chance to refine their game with the tip-off of the 2017 – 18 season looming just around the corner.
Emphasizing an ongoing commitment to skill development and advancement, the event once again featured some high profile and high powered personalities setting it apart from the crowd. Renowned television analyst and women’s basketball advocate Debbie Antonelli made the trip from Charleston, South Carolina joining nationally respected high school and USA Basketball veteran coach Mary Klinger in from New Jersey and Rutgers Prep.
Nobody has a larger women’s basketball media presence than Antonelli who’s college and WNBA work is second to none. Constantly looking to “grow the game” she’s in demand as a speaker among the college ranks and made an earlier appearance at Carroll Friday afternoon speaking to not only the Dragon’s girls’ team but the rosters of several other sports as well. A North Carolina State graduate, Antonelli is Class A member of the Board of Director’s for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Addresses are listed below the story to follow and find out more about the efforts of such an important cause.
Klinger has 33 seasons under her belt and has amassed over 500 wins during that tenure. Twice she’s been a part of Gold Medal winning USA Basketball teams on the international stage. Just for good measure she’s also served on the sidelines as a coach in the prestigious McDonald’s All-American Game.
If that staff starting point isn’t enough, host and Carroll High School Head Coach Teri Morrison coordinated the event with a sparkling resume’ of her own. She’s won over 600 games with a winning percentage north of 70 percent. Filling her shelves and walls are over 25 Coach of the Year honors along with USA, McDonald’s and Nike Skill Academy stops to lend credibility to the message she brings to the floor.
Walsh Jordan once again brought his dynamic teaching to the floor. The founder of Next Level Basketball, his own playing experiences and success at the high school, collegiate and professional levels provide a “been there” perspective that many of today’s so-called trainers lack. His extensive list of clients range from youth to NBA players and exceeds 100 athletes in length.
Other floor coaches providing instruction were Jeff Arce (Carroll Senior H.S.), Kelly Carruthers (Arlington Bowie H.S.), Courtney Lee (Colleyville Heritage H.S.), Whitney Long (Carroll Senior H.S.), Eureka Purcell (Mansfield ISD), Dianna Sager (Colleyville Heritage H.S.) and Jillian Samuels (Newman Smith H.S.).
Adding to his frequent flier totals and unparalleled commitment to Girls Grassroots Basketball coast to coast was the Godfather himself Mike Flynn of Blue Star and USJN. Over the last 40 years nobody has stepped up to the plate today and had an eye on tomorrow as Flynn has. Liza Lank of Blue Star was on hand as well making the trip from Colorado for the event. Behind the scenes with the Southwest Sports Alliance were Earl Allen of Cy-Fair and Corey Hegwood of DFW Elite. Cy-Fair and DFW are both members of the Nike EYBL.
While the emphasis of today’s coverage is on the commitment, quality and staff of the event, there were plenty of prospects in the gym. Just take a look at the 3 X 3 winning team which won a USA Basketball qualifying tournament included as a featured element of the event. Kayla Cooper (Dallas, Texas – 2023), Aaliyah Moore (Moore, Ok. – 2021), Lauryn Pendleton (Little Rock, Ark. – 2021) and Jordyn Sowell – (South Lake, Texas – 2021) are names recruiters should already know. If they don’t, it’s time to catch up.
Hats off to all the participants for getting on the floor in a setting not promoted, geared or focused on evaluation and recruiting. It’s important to not lose sight of the game itself and the chance to be a better player and in turn a better teammate moving into the upcoming season.