Nearby spectators could hear sneakers squeaking on the hardwood as players dribbled up the court. Perfect trajectory and arc led to basketballs hitting nothing but net in the rim. And coaches coordinated players from the region and around the nation in different drills to prepare them for their basketball futures.
This was the scene of Neosho County Elite Camp 2020 at Neosho County Community College on Thursday from 9 am to 5 pm. Eighteen players were working on skill work (lifting, shooting and team drills) in the morning, ate lunch at noon, participated in basketball IQ and leadership, toured the campus and then practiced once more towards the end of the day. The camp was organized by NCCC women’s basketball head coach JJ Davis, honorary associate head coach Mark Childers, and assistant coach Kenny Eddy, while former standout women’s basketball player Hayley Stiger, redshirt freshman Adelia Timmer and current freshman player Aubrey Hall helped run the camp.
“First off, I want to thank coach Mark and coach Eddy, Hayley Stiger, Adelia Timmer came back to help coach and then new freshman Aubrey Hall came back to help us coach,” Davis said during the camp’s lunch break as players were eating around the scorer’s table in Panther Gymnasium. “We were up in the air about Elite Camp, everything’s kind of been up in the air and all that, but you know, faith and all that. And last night we had about 10 or 12 kids that just couldn’t come. ... We’ve been trying really hard to make Neosho women’s basketball a staple. And so this is a way to get these young kids from our area out here to help us. That way they get to see what we are about and check out what we do, and how we play and how we compete at this level. And so they are basically doing a day in the life of a Neosho women’s basketball student-athlete.”
Replicating what life’s like for current NCCC women’s basketball players was for good reason. Davis said since he has started the job as the Lady Panthers head coach in 2012, it is his duty to recruit the best basketball talent from southeast Kansas. With the elite camp developed as another step towards nabbing the best area talent, the eighth-year head coach has forged a commitment to potentially bring in every one of the players in attendance.
Players exhibiting their skill sets at the camp further proved how much help they could be to the program. Davis likes a fast-tempo pace with players who can flat-out shoot. Several players in drills were shooting the ball well at a high-clip.
“There’s a lot of good shooters in the gym today. You know we got some kids that can really shoot the basketball today, we got some kids with some really good energy, and those two things are staples for us. If they don’t have energy or really can’t shoot the basketball, that’s hard in this program,” Davis noted. “But like I said, we’ve done a really good job of finding kids in Southeast Kansas that will fit that. They’re a little rusty today because they have been locked up, but they’re phenomenal kids with phenomenal attitudes and they just keep getting better.”
Senior Kylie Speer of Field Kindley High School is one such student-athlete. Speer, an All-SEK second-team member and a Topeka Capital-Journal All-State Honorable Mention, said she had her eyes set on trusting the process.
“My goal here is to get better. You’re always trying to up your game, but getting the reps in, working with the college coaches, it’s a different experience than a high school camp, so it’s an experience, too,” Speer said. “Everything that goes on here, I feel like it’s really energy-based, lots of talking, lots of clapping, everything teamwork, just stuff like that, working on my shot, getting reps.”
Speer said she hopes to be a better shooter, a better slasher to the rim and a better leader once she returns to Coffeyville.
Senior Adyson Peck of Field Kindley was side by side with her teammate Speer through many of the drills. Peck, who garnered All-SEK and Topeka Capital-Journal All-State honors, said she needed to improve.
“I’m trying to get better at shooting and become more confident in myself,” Peck said. “They’ve shown me how to be a better teammate and talk more, and just get out of my comfort zone.”
A goal of Peck’s is to earn All-SEK first-team honors when she returns to Coffeyville.
Senior Brooklyn Diederich of Louisburg High School racked up an All-Frontier League Honorable Mention this past year. Diederich said she wants to level up.
“I want to improve my shot more and just be a better leader, and carry what they’ve taught me at the high school level,” Diederich said. “They really focused on outside shooting, which it helps me a lot because that’s all I do: I’m an outside shooter for my team. And they make sure that I’m always being positive, always being loud and encouraging to everyone else here.”
Diederich said she intends to duplicate all the drills at the camp on her own time in an effort to be a better basketball player.
The next basketball project for NCCC will be service-oriented. The Neosho Way SERVE Camps for grade-school kids starts today at 9 am in Panther Gymnasium and is free.