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The Waiting Game...Yeah It's Tough - Apr 29, 2016

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WNBA training camp has started and European leagues are coming to an end. Teams are trying to finalize their rosters and overseas leagues are starting to sign new talent. With the first Eurobasket Summer League Pre-Draft Camp finished, it has now become a waiting game to see what offers will come through, and who ends up where in the fall.

It's an exciting time,yes! Teams are expressing interest, and opportunities are beginning to knock on your door. But at the same time, having to stay patient and wait to see what comes through is tough to do.

Here is a run-down of what the last couple weeks have been like for me, including some tips to stay sane while playing the waiting game.

Eurobasket Summer League With Marynell Meadors

As the former Head Coach/General Manager for the Atlanta Dream and a coach for the U.S.A. National Team, you could say there was a lot to learn from this amazing woman. That Friday night, Coach Meadors took the time to run us through a 2 hour workout that was similar to how a WNBA training camp practice would run.

We started with fundamental ball handling, then transitioned into full-court passing and drills such as the 3-man weave. She explained that even though these drills seemed rudimentary, every WNBA team that she worked with started practice with these simple drills. Something that stuck with me is that you can be the most athletic person in the world, but if you don't have basic fundamentals and an understanding of the game of basketball (Basketball IQ), it will be hard to succeed at the next level.

After the fundamental drills, we moved right into shooting drills. These were focused on how efficient and consistent you can be. As a pro, you need to be able to knock down shots consistently above 70% without defense and above 50% with defense. Keep this in mind when you are practicing because it will help you become more consistent when you transition into games.

The shooting drills consisted of these spots on the floor:

-Mikan drill (lay-ups)
-Block to block
-Elbow to elbow
-5 spot shooting mid-range
-5 spot shooting 3-point

We started with the Mikan drill (lay-ups), then moved from block to block, and then elbow to elbow. We took 10 shots at each spot with the goal of making the most in the least amount of time. Then we transitioned into 5-spot shooting mid-range followed by long distance shooting drills behind the 3-point line going around and back for a total of 10 shots.

Once every group had finished the drill we split up into teams and played 5-on-5 for the remaining hour. It was extremely competitive and a lot of fun seeing how you match up against top talent.

Basketball, Basketball, and even more Basketball

The weekend was going to feel like AAU Basketball all over again. The days where you spent all of your hours in a gym running from game to game with a cooler in the back seat of the car so you would have snacks and Gatorade in between. Everyone remembers those glory days!

Saturday morning I arrived at the gym around 8:45 am. I wanted to get there a little early to get up shots and warm-up properly before we began. I knew it was going to be a long day, so I had to make sure I was well prepared and stretched. Games were played back to back starting at 9:30 am and ending at 3:00 pm. They were full 40-minute games with 10 people per team competing.

On top of the Eurobasket games, we also had our WUBA league games that night. We played against a team from Oklahoma and won soundly. After the day was over, I was exhausted (having played 3 full games) and ready to pass out and prepare for championship Sunday.

Sunday - Championships

Sunday began later because there were only 2 games for Eurobasket, the last league game and the championship 'All-Star' game.

The All-Star game was a match-up between the top talent from the camp, which included many girls from Friday night. Aaliyah Whiteside, Deja Middleton, and LaToya Bond were a few of the athletes participating in this game. Coach Michael Cooper, Head Coach of the Atlanta Dream, was also in attendance for the game, which was extremely exciting to get to play in front of someone who coaches at the highest level of women's basketball.

The game began with a lot of scoring and going back and forth with lead changes. My team finally turned it up on defense to get a few steals that we converted into transition baskets to pull away with the lead. After that, it was no looking back, and we finished out the game with the win, making us the Eurobasket Summer League Champions.

After the game, the Eurobasket All-Tournament Team was announced and I was honored to be named as part of the 1st team.

Eurobasket Summer League 1st Team:

-Kristina King
-LaToya Bond
-Deja Middleton
-Roddreka Rogers
-Norrisha Victrum

Along with being named to the first team, I received Best Guard and MVP honors for this camp. It was an awesome experience and a blessing to earn these awards. I felt really good about my performance in the camp and it has only motivated me even more to keep pushing and getting the most out of the sport I love.

My motivation was sparked even more a couple of days later when I received a call from the Atlanta Dream inviting me to a private workout to compete for a spot in their training camp.

WNBA Private Workout

The opportunity to participate in a 30-minute private workout with the Atlanta Dream was incredible. It was, to say the least, a little intimidating, but a dream come true at the same time. I'm not going to lie, I had to calm my nerves in the car before and talk myself through the anxiety. It becomes such a mental game at this level and the ability to stay consistent, even when you're uncomfortable or nervous, is a great quality to have.

I walked into the gym and was immediately greeted by Head Coach Michael Cooper, who explained how the workout was going to go. It was only 30 minutes, but it was just me and an assistant coach going through the different drills while the other coaches sat on the sideline evaluating.

Talk about no pressure!

Honestly though, I was there and I had a moment to make the most of this chance I was given. The workout was tough, consisting mainly of shooting (both on the move and catch-and-shoot) and ball handling drills leading to shots. Before I could move on to the next drill, I had to make 7.

I felt really good about my performance in the workout. It was tough, but I consistently hit my shots at a high efficiency. Walking out of the workout, I felt confident that whether I got a call or not, I did my best. I didn't let the stage I was on affect my game.

Final Outcomes

So yesterday was the first official day of training camp for the WNBA. I didn't receive a call that I had made a spot on the team; however, that hasn't discouraged me from continuing to chase my dreams.

I have gained even more confidence in my game and I'm starting to come into my own being more comfortable in what I bring to the table. This is going to help me immensely when I go back overseas and have to lead another team.

So How Do You Stay Sane?

Waiting around to see what happens is tough. The key is to stay busy and focused on what your end goal is. Approach every workout and pick-up session focused on a specific aspect of your game that you want to get better. Trust me, there is always something to improve on, and seeing results keeps you moving forward.

Right now, the next event on my plate is the WUBA All-Star game on May 22. If you're in Atlanta that weekend, feel free to come out and support our event by purchasing a ticket.

Stay tuned and follow my social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) or visit my website to get daily updates on what I'm up to.   

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