It's undeniable that the increased opportunities for girls' basketball players is a good thing. What's not very good is when a bulk of those opportunities are available only to a small subset of the players. And, sadly, for Rebecca Greenwell, it may have been a classic case of having too much of a good thing.
Try to examine Greenwell's past six months without breaking into a sweat: After leading Owensboro (Ky.) Catholic to a regional championship, Greenwell trained and played club basketball in the spring, which included a top tournament in Hampton, Va.; went through grueling, high-altitude tryouts for USA Basketball in Colorado Springs, Colo., broke records and earned MVP honors at the FIBA U16 Americas championships in Mérida, Mexico, in June, and played another grueling club schedule with the Tennessee Flight in July, which culminated with the ultra-competitive Nike Nationals in Augusta, Ga. Of course, with Greenwell in the lineup, the Flight went deep in that one, advancing to the semifinals.
And then last week. Greenwell played again for USA Basketball at the inaugural FIBA 3x3 championships in Rimini, Italy. Last year, USA Basketball divided its international efforts for girls into three discrete teams. This year, it used four girls who played on the U16 team in Mexico for the 3x3 team in Italy.
Much has been made about the valiant effort by the U.S., playing host Italy in the semifinal with just two players against their three, plus a sub. But what about the flip side of that story, the reason why the U.S. had to play short-handed? Kaela Davis of Suwanee, Ga., and Linnae Harper of Chicago, were the only two healthy enough after first Taya Reimer of Fishers, Ind., went down with an ankle sprain, then Greenwell suffered the dreaded ACL tear.
The notion that girls are not playing too many games "because they're young and can take it" is old-school, misguided thinking. Among so many other things, it neglects the fact that certain numbers of girls, for physiological reasons, are ticking time bombs for ACL injuries and increased games not only means increased physical toll, but increased opportunities to set off the sequence that leads to the devastating injury.
How can we blame the girls for this?
Hey, wanna play basketball? Sure.
For your country? Yeah!
In Italy? I'm already packed!
Shouldn't the adults be the prudent ones and shut these kids down? Yes, but they're too busy chasing reputations and gold medals, or dollars selling more events, or more evaluations days so they can "get to know the recruits better." Hogwash. These very same adults would no sooner allow their kids to eat themselves sick simply because they have a love of, say, ice cream.
The particular shame in this case is that Greenwell was one of the feel-good stories of the spring and summer. She'd improved to No. 5 among 2013 prospects in large part because she answered questions about her ability to create shots and be explosive with the dribble. Now, coming off an ACL injury, those questions inevitably will be renewed. She also has been a marvelous scorer, averaging 32.6 points as a sophomore at Owensboro Catholic, and was on pace to break the career scoring record for the state of Kentucky. Now that's dashed because she'll miss her junior season of high-school ball.
And when Greenwell returns from her ACL rehab, what will be her chances of making another national team, playing for even higher stakes at the FIBA U18 World Championships? Those will be played next year in August, by the way. Parents and club coaches no doubt already are plotting how many summer-circuit games the kids can get in before. Maybe USA Basketball will do the right thing and mandate that the players stay in training with them throughout July.
-- Glenn Nelson
Every action in recruiting ignites a ripple that earns a response from schools around the country that subtlety alters the landscape in the recruiting world. When those decisions are made closer and closer to signing day the ripples go from subtle to harsh. A case study for this can be found in the recent decision by Katie Heckman to verbally commit to Duke.
At this point in the recruiting calendar, the Denver native's value as a prospect is twofold. She is a 6-foot-4 post player with the ability to play both the center and forward positions. Her versatility and skill set have allowed her to stay inside the ESPNU HoopGurlz Top 100 despite missing most of the past calendar year out with an ACL injury. In addition to her prowess on the court, her status as a member of the post class of 2012 makes her a rarity in this recruiting climate.
Heckman's status as an uncommitted post in the class of 2012 made her a highly sought-after commodity, but for four schools that has changed. Heckman's final list included Duke, Gonzaga, UCLA, North Carolina State, and Vanderbilt. Before that she had previously eliminated Colorado, DePaul, Iowa State, Utah and Virginia. Her verbal to Duke left a void at eight schools around the country. An open scholarship that will force eight different courses of action, staffs will hold meetings about how to go forward with Heckman off the board. New high-school or junior-college posts will pick up an offer as a byproduct. Some staffs will decide to hold the scholarship and focus their attention on the deeper post class of 2013.
This one thing is certain: Everyone but Duke will have to make an adjustment.
-- Keil Moore
Tennessee Tech Strikes Again
It's no coincidence that Tennessee Tech's resurgence back to the upper echelon of the Ohio Valley Conference has been based on having All-Conference caliber players (Tacarra Hayes & Molly Heady) as well as the Conference Coach of the Year in Sytia Messer. In 6-foot-2 Class of 2012 post Mariah Dean out of Atlanta, Ga., Messer has another player who could be in line for postseason awards during her time in Cookeville. Dean was an anchor inside on the block for with the A.O.T. Lady Rebels - one of our ESPNHoopGurlz top teams of the past summer. She's got a good frame as well as being a willing rebounder and defender in the post. Her stature coupled with her activity level makes her a potentially effective player in a quality OVC league early in her career.
-- Brandon Clay
Dytiesha Dunson to Florida Gulf Coast: The 5-7 floor general decided on the Florida-based school after also considering offers from both Cincinnati and South Alabama amongst others. She'll provide an immediate impact at the point-guard position with her ability to push the tempo and find the open shooter. Dunson's decision continues FGCU's run of quality guards signing to play for the Atlantic Sun program, most notably current freshman Whitney Knight last spring.
Charnelle Reed to Western Illinois: Playing at the same high school as former prep star Julian Wright means that Reed is no stranger to the expectation of playing at the next level. By choosing to stay in-state and play at Western Illinois, the 5-10 wing will be doing just that. She's an active perimeter threat who is at her best offensively attacking the rim off the bounce. On the other end of the hardwood, she's a ballhawk who makes things tough for whoever she is guarding on the opposing team.
Whitney Tinjum to Washington State: For the second straight week, Washington State makes headlines in the recruiting world. This week it's with the pledge of Tinjum who hails from Stacy, Minn. A 6-foot forward, she proved this summer that she is willing to do all of the little things to make good things happen on the basketball floor. Her willingness to set screens, rebound and defend make her an essential piece to the six commit puzzle that the staff in Pullman is putting together.
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Brandon Clay is a contributor and national recruiting analyst for ESPN HoopGurlz. He is also the publisher of the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report and the owner of Peach State Basketball, Inc. Clay has been involved in the community since 2001 as a recruiting analyst, event operator and trainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @peachstatehoops.
Keil Moore is a contributor and national recruiting analyst for ESPN HoopGurlz. He is also the Director of Scouting for the JumpOffPlus.com National Scouting Report - a division of Peach State Basketball, Inc. Moore has been involved in the community since 2007 as a recruiting analyst and trainer. He can be reached at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @keilmoore.
Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A graduate of Seattle University and Columbia University, he formerly coached girls' club basketball, was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of an online sports network, authored a basketball book for kids, has had his photography displayed at the Smithsonian Institute, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.