Tournament highlights local female athletes

Photo by Timothy Ramsey- The young ladies scramble for a loose ball during the basketball tournament last weekend.

Tournament highlights local female athletes
May 25
00:00 2017

When the kids in the state of North Carolina watch college basketball on television, they are normally bombarded with schools from “Tobacco Road.”  The big Division I colleges of North Carolina, Wake Forest, N.C. State and Duke dominate recruiting in the area because of their big budgets and loyal fan bases.

Most of the girls who watch these teams dream of the day they can lace up their sneakers and play for one of these prestigious universities.  Unfortunately, there are only a select number of scholarships available for each team, and those players who were not targeted by those schools need a place to play.

To help bring those smaller universities to the girls looking for opportunities, Brian Robinson, head coach of the Bishop McGuinness High School girls’ team, decided to create an event for Division II and Division III coaches to come out and see girls from all across the East Coast.  This year’s event occurred at the Gateway YWCA. 

The first event was held in 2002, when about 30 girls showed up and maybe six colleges. 

The showcase has grown to twice a year, one in the spring and one in the fall.  The tournament has gotten as many as 60 teams, but Robinson says he had to cut it down to 24 teams so that everyone can be seen by every coach at the same location.  The teams are clubs or Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) teams from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and beyond.

“When I got to Bishop [in Kernersville], I found out there were a lot of girls that were basically missing out on opportunities because they were all searching for Division I teams,” Robinson said.  “Not everyone is going to be a Division I player, so I started thinking of avenues to help them out as far as college opportunities.”

Early on, Robinson says he was able to get the teams and coaches to come out to the tournament by word of mouth.  He says the tournament has grown to a level where they have to turn teams away.  He says the college teams have come from as far north as the Washington D.C., Metropolitan area and as far south as Georgia.

“We are lucky here in North Carolina because we have a lot of Division II and Division III schools here and the tournament is easily accessible to them,” Robinson went on to say.  “They love it and there is no North Carolina, Duke or Wake Forest to compete against. They really appreciate the event and are a really big reason why the event has grown this much.”

Over the years Robinson says he has gotten nothing but positive feedback from the players, their parents and the coaches.  He says he enjoys bringing the players and coaches together in a controlled environment so the players don’t get overlooked.

“Since I have been a coach for 20 plus years, I understand that not every player is going to be a Division, I player, but you still you want opportunities for your kids if you care about them,” said Robinson.  “I feel like if you’re in this business, you should do whatever you can to provide as many opportunities and avenues for these kids as you can.  By doing this event, this is just one more chance I can give these girls  to play on the college level.”

Robinson says he loves the fact he is able to showcase a player who may not be the biggest, strongest or fastest but has a skill that a school may need.

“I have enjoyed seeing the kids that have fallen through the cracks that have a skill and love basketball get an opportunity,” Robinson continued.  “To know that a kid may have gotten their school paid for through the game, they love to play is amazing.”

There were many coaches from all over the state and farther at the event, on May 20 and 21.  Greensboro College Head Coach Randy Tuggle said he comes every year because of the potential players he is able to see up close and personal.

“This event is great because you get the opportunity to see a bunch of kids,” Tuggle said.  “As a coach with a small budget for recruiting you get the chance to see over 20 teams and not have to travel all over to see everyone.  Usually they have some really good teams here, so its mutually beneficial to everyone involved.”

Robinson said he was very pleased with the turnout of the tournament this year.  He says they had more college coaches than in recent years, so that means more young ladies may have opportunities to play college basketball.

“I thought the event went very well,” he said.  “We had more coaches than what I had planned for which, is always a good thing.  Fayetteville State, Shaw and Bridgewater all came as first-timers this weekend, so it definitely gave all the participants more exposure and, hopefully, some additional options for the future.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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