The Tampa Thunder may be young in the world of grassroots basketball, but they made their presence known on the travel circuit this year. With 12 teams in the program, the Thunder have a wide range of developing prospects. They boast of class of 2015 and 2016 players who are garnering college interest from around the nation. They also have a number of younger teams that are budding with potential.
When Rob Walker moved to Tampa, Fla., in 2009 he knew that basketball needed to change in the world of grassroots basketball in that area. Most girls basketball players were unable to play competitive basketball in middle school and many did not receive the skill instruction they needed before they reached high school. The overall goal of the Tampa Thunder organization is to provide a competitive platform for girls to play basketball while also educating families on the recruiting process.
As program director, Walker says, “We are willing to take a different approach at the grassroots level. We are willing to invest time and effort in teaching skill sets on and off the court. We spend a lot of time educating our families on how to navigate the recruiting process. Our goal is not to monopolize information with our girls; rather we want to essay plan service provide the bridges to the proper outlets.”
PeachStateBasketball.com Tournaments Attended:
Rachel Briere – 2015
Hayley Duren – 2016
Charlisa Jenkins – 2015
Emily Lines – 2015
Alex Sadler – 2015
Peyton Walker – 2015
Program Notes from Rob Walker:
Carving a niche’ can be a challenging task, even within an area that is rich with talent as in the area of Tampa. However, after years of work the Tampa Thunder seem to have complete buy in from their community. Walker says, “We had 140 kids show up for our high school tryouts. That was overwhelming. People in the area are now starting to understand that they can get quality basketball by staying at home in Tampa.”
This year was a success even apart from the community buy-in according to Walker. “Our older teams competed at the highest levels and are being recruited very well. However, what is most exciting is our 2016 and 2017 teams. They did a great job and are developing skills that will be exciting to watch in the future.”
When asked what they highlight of the summer was, Walker first talked about the lowest moment. “We started the second half of July by losing badly to San Antonio’s Finest. They were really clicking and we were not ready. After that game was a pivot point for us. We bounced back i suck at writing essays the next day by taking All Ohio down to the wire. That moment set the tone for the rest of July.”
After playing a talented All Ohio Black team down to the final minutes, the Tampa Thunder Elite responded by playing confidently through the rest of the PSB Summer Invitational. They took that momentum and turned that into a solid second half of July with several meaningful wins.
The Tampa Thunder have a number of prospects that are gaining attention from college coaches from around the nation. Peyton Walker of Lithia, Fla., is a great example as she has already set most of her official visits for the fall. Forwards such as 6-1 Emily Lines of Naples, Fla., and 5-11 Rachel Briere of Tampa, Fla., have gained attention in the form of offers from across the nation.
However, the biggest surprise of the summer had to be 6-1 power forward Charlisa Jenkins of St. Petersburg, Fla. Walker called her the “Cinderella Story” of the summer. After being injured in the spring, she picked up a number of offers and has even fielded phone calls from a few schools within the power conferences.
The cupboard will be far from empty next summer as the Tampa Thunder already have 2016 prospects that are being recruited heavily. Haley Duren of Davie, Fla., is a 6-4 center who garnered attention schools in the SEC and the ACC even though she flannery o connor writing short stories essay did not play the second half of July. Also twins Carly and Savannah Plentovich of Clearwater, Fla., have been a hot topic among college coaches. Look for these three to have be the cornerstone of the Elite team next year.
With the older teams firmly established within the attention of college coaches on a national basis, there is plenty to be look forward to with the younger teams. Walker says, “The class of 2017 is the first group of girls that are truly ‘Thunder’ girls. They stuck with us and should reap the rewards of much hard work in the upcoming year.”
He mentioned two players in particular to watch in 6-2 center Madison Pack of Sarasota, Fla., and 6-1 forward Tina Stephens of Seffner, Fla. Pack competed at the EBA Super 64 Camp in June and showed to be a post player with skill and upside. In addition, Stephens is an athletic presence on the court that is only beginning to scratch the surface of her true potential.
Jonathan Hemingway is the Assistant Director of Scouting for the JumpOffPlus.com. The service is used by more than 150 colleges and universities nationwide. He also serves on the selection committee for the EBA All-American, Fab Five and Super 64 Camps. He has been involved in the community since 2002 as a coach, camp director and evaluator. You can reach him via email at JonathanHemingway@PeachStateBasketball.com and follow him on twitter @JLHemingwayPSB