This season was the first time the St. James Coastal Crew Rebels organized a Lady Rebels program, comprised of two newly formed squads. The players range in age from high school juniors and younger. According to junior girls coach Mike Brown, both squads have made impressive progress. Brown’s team recently was honored with an invitation to this weekend’s 2010 AAU Super Showcase in Orlando, Fla.
"This is an invitation only showcase. You can’t just register and attend; you have to be invited," Brown said. "Only 92 teams nationwide got invited to this event."
Last year, Brown’s boys squad was invited to the showcase after a solid AAU circuit performance. This year, the Rebels don’t have a boys team slated to attend the event, but Brown said based on the Rebels’ past success and other showcase invitations, the event organizers in Orlando extended an invitation to the newly formed girls team.
"They were courteous enough to allow me to bring the girls team down," he said. "For most of these girls, it’s their first time in an organization that is allowing them to go to places and be seen and recognized by a lot of college coaches. This showcase is a prime example."
"It’s been very good for the Rebels and for St. James," Rebels founder Ernie Walthour said regarding the creation of a girls program. "We are excited for the girls and the success they’ve had in their first year. They’ve been getting the opportunity to play in the tournaments where a lot of our boys teams got a lot of their exposure and [have] been seen by the college coaches. It gives these girls an opportunity to be seen and maybe get a college scholarship."
Brown said he has a wealth of talent on his team. Courtney Rhodes, Diamone Johnson and up-and-coming player LaNiqua Fowler are receiving a lot of attention from recruiters and scouts, according to the coach.
He said the girls have been to two tournaments this season and made it to the semi-finals at both before they were eliminated.
Brown said his players are attentive and readily follow the directions he gives them during training, practice and at the last two tournaments. He said he also instructs them to be aggressive and enthusiastic on the bench and on the floor.
"College coaches look at everything," Brown said. "They look at your performance on the floor, but they also look at how you respond when you are on the bench." He said recruiters want to make sure an athlete is an overall team player. "I’ve seen scouts and coaches give high marks to a players’ performance but when they noticed the way they behaved on the sidelines, I’ve seen them draw a line through their name on the scouting sheet."
The coach said he is pleased with his squad’s progress.
"I can tell you this: When it’s game time, they put their game face on and they do what I ask them to do," he said.
"It was a little different at first," Walthour said of the two new teams. "The boys were used to coming out and hitting the courts and doing what they normally do. The girls got off to a slower start but now they are picking up a lot, and it’s good to see the program growing."