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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Friday Cardinal Couple -- Stars galore at Cardinal Elite Camp Clinic


-Action, competition and talent the order of the day in Cardinal Arena on Thursday.

It may have reached the 100 degree mark in Louisville Thursday afternoon, but it wasn't as nearly as hot as the all-star group of players on display at the Jeff Walz Cardinal Elite Camp Clinic in Cardinal Arena. 

Despite having hip surgery Wednesday, Asia Taylor was
on hand to run the score clock. 
Talented high school girls basketball players from all over the nation were on hand for the four hour event. One didn't have to look too far to see the best and the brightest in action. Whether it was Mercedes Russell banging under the paint, Makayla Epps lofting that sweet mid-range jumper, Rebecca Greenwell taking one to the hoop with skill and grace or Erica Moore making head-shaking play after brilliant play...the stars were out early Thursday afternoon before an appreciative crowd of around 150.

A brief hydration break before another drill
After a brief overview of NCAA rules, regulations and guidelines by assistant WBB coach Cam Newbauer for the campers, Teena Murray took over and took the players through a series of dynamic stretching exercises. Also there to lead and spur them on was the UofL WBB squad..the vocal encouragement from Mo, Sara, Sherrone and the rest of the Lady Cards filling the gym. 

The campers then separated into four smaller groups 
Working on the mid-range jumper
for skills practice on essentials such as jump shots, transition basketball, layups, 5 player weaves and trans-post passing. Almost two hours went by as the Cardinal coaches, players and camp staff worked with the groups on shooting, defense, rebounding and breakdown moves according to position. 

When 3:00 p.m. rolled around, it was time for the first of two thirty-minute scrimmages. The players were divided into two red and two white squads and competed for fifteen minutes against each squad of the opposite jersey color. 

This is where it got really fun and competitive. 

UofL WBB Freshman Megan Deines takes in the action
With so much talent and skill level competing, it's really hard to pick out who performed the best...but the four members of the CARDINAL COUPLE staff present were sold on the efforts of Makayla Epps (Marion County), Katie Collier (Webb School), Raven Merriweather (Sacred Heart), Maci Morris (Bell County) Jasmine Lumpkin (Joliet) and Lauren White (Edwardsville) as "ones to watch" when it came to guard play. Also keep an eye out down the road for 6th grader Casey Collins (Katie's younger sister) who went toe-to-toe with the bigger, older guards and never backed down. 

CARDINAL COUPLE's Jenny O'Bryan will have a future article about who she thought was impressive and her thoughts on the afternoon. Don't miss it! 

Front liners that impressed would have to include the names of #1 ranked 2013 recruit Mercedes Russell (Springfield), Erica Moore (Mount Vernon), Nora Kiesler (Assumption), Logan Powell (Marion County) and Taylor Robinson (Ladue Horton Watkins). 

Then...there was Becca Greenwell. The senior-to-be at Owensboro Catholic showed no ill effects from her knee surgery. A quick crossover move, silky-smooth jumper and all-over-the-court awareness made her my personal choice as MVP of the first round of scrimmages. Some players just "have it". She's one of them. 

CARDINAL COUPLE'S Sonja and Sandy react to the
aggressive post play.  
After the scrimmage, the groups broke up into guards and forward/centers. These drills were fun to watch...Coach "Sam" had her guards doing a lot of push ups whenever I looked at that end of the court...I was concentrating on the battles that the bigs were displaying underneath the basket.

One to watch in future years is 6'6" center Nancy Mulkey out of Texas. Still a bit thin and just a freshman, but goes to the hoop with aggression and has a nice outside shot. Keep an eye on Logan and Kendyl Powell out of Marion County, too. Definitely not afraid to mix it up underneath and both hit the boards well.

Stretching it out the Teena Murray way...
Free throws and 3-point drills followed before the second and final 30-minute scrimmage of the afternoon. I dedicated this one to Mercedes Russell watching, who Louisville really wants to land.

I can see why. 

A.J. flashes that beautiful smile before going out to
teach the campers. (Take it easy on Jude, A.J!)
She positions well on the offensive sets and her height and agility allows her easy access to close in shots and put-backs. Teamed with Epps and Morris, they played with the precision of a squad that had been together for years. One writers dream: To see these three in Cardinal Red and Black against Big East opponents. Epps has a "lights out" jumper and Morris runs the point with the skill of a college senior. 

It was fun to watch these three compete against Becca Greenwell's squad for 15 minutes. You could tell that neither squad wanted to lose this scrimmage. Add Greenwell to this writer's wish-list to see in a Cardinal jersey. Her skill set is light-years beyond her age.

Free throws: a very important factor in any game
It was also good to see the Lady Cards out there working with the campers and teaching. Sara Hammond is a natural coach and it was fun watching her work the sidelines during the scrimmages. All the Cards seemed to be enjoying themselves and after the scrimmage they engaged the campers in conversation and a lot of laughter and fun filled the court. Mo Reid is brimming with confidence and authority this summer...can't help but think she's on the cusp of a sensational season. All of the Lady Cards went out of their way to encourage, teach, demonstrate and reinforce the things that are essential and important on the court. You can tell this bunch really likes each other and brief, casual chats with Cortnee Walton and Megan Deines indicated that they are fitting in just fine with the group and enjoying being Lady Cards. Although freshmen aren't allowed to work camps, they both seemed to enjoy watching the action and are ready to join in next year. 

Nora Kiesler (middle left) is a rising star for Assumption.
The four hours seemed to fly by. 

As Sonja and I walked to the car in the blazing heat after the camp, we talked about the massive amounts of talent we had just witnessed. A short chat with Rebecca Greenwell after the camp confirmed that she had a great time and that Louisville is still among the top schools she is looking at. Mercedes Russell grinned broadly when asked about the camp and saw it as a "great afternoon of fun and learning." Makayla Epps thought she had an "OK" camp and assured us that the ice wrapped around her knee was nothing to worry about...just a standard post-practice procedure. 

We had a wonderful time with the CARDINAL COUPLE staff writers in attendance Thursday afternoon and enjoyed meeting the CARDINAL COUPLE readers who came up to us and introduced themselves as the afternoon went on. If anyone had a better time at the camp than us, it was probably the actual participants...who got in a great four-hour workout Thursday afternoon in Cardinal Arena. 

Our thanks and appreciation to the coaches, staff and players who were gracious, entertaining and so much fun to watch and be around. 

This is Cardinal basketball, ladies and gentlemen...and you will not find a better product, philosophy and way of doing things out our book.   

--Paul Sykes



  1. Great, Great, did I say Great report!

  2. It was a fun afternoon. Easy to write about something that enjoyable. Thanks!

  3. Great write up Paulie!!
    I look forward to working on my article, as time permits, and submitting my thoughts about the day. It was pretty awesome to watch such talented players. They all worked and played hard for 4 hours. Nice job campers, your futures look bright!!

    1. Thanks, Jenny! It was a fun afternoon, wasn't it?

  4. Great article, Paul. Glad that I got to spend some time with you, Sonja and the others.

  5. I, for one, was very impressed with all the talent I saw. Came out to see Russell, Epps, and Greenwell (those three playing for the Cards together would be awesome!), but saw much more than those three. Plenty of players left an impression on me. One that impressed me most was the smallest girl out there, and I'm assuming that was the sixth grader Casey Collins. Fearless, to say the least! Good skills for someone so young, she probably will have to play with older girls because she is so much better than your average sixth grader. Definitely one to keep an eye on!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, K! Good to meet you yesterday. We are considering an article on young miss Casey Collins doen the road. Very impressive for a sixth grader!


  6. Was Ali Patberg at the camp? Been following her a bit up here in Columbus, IN. A guard
    that shoots the lights out of it.

    1. She was listed on the roster but I don't recall watching her specifically. There were 50 participants, I'm sure I missed or failed to cover all of them properly. Maybe Jenny or Sandy can help us out her.



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