Question: When should you look for meaning in an exhibition basketball game?
Answer: Never, but that isn't going to stop us!
The exciting high school prospects of spring have turned into the unknown freshman of the fall. Now, we get our first glimpses of the young ladies that represent the future of their schools. Of course, we won't know if they're going to be good from an exhibition game, or a regular season game, or possibly even their freshman year. So, with all the usual caveats about the small sample size and the non-existent competition, let's check out the very first stat lines of three 5-Star recruits.
All Hail The Uber Prospect
Jessica Shepard is not only a bruising post player, but something of a hometown hero, hailing as she does from Fremont, Nebraska, which is just an hour drive from Lincoln and the University of Nebraska which she now attends. Dan Olson of ESPN's Hoop Gurlz had her as the number three high school player in the country.
She's big even for her listed height of 6'4", with the kind of build that will allow her to muscle just about anybody off the block. Dan Olson called her a "double double producer", praised her "back to basket game with accomplished footwork" and called her "the elite interior prospect of the 2015 class."
All of that was on display in the Cornhuskers' November 1st exhibition game against the University of Nebraska - Kearney. Shepard was the best player on the court, and one of her teammates - Rachel Theriot - will probably be playing in the WNBA next summer. Shepard had 29 points and 12 rebounds, including eleven points in the first quarter.
All this really means is that the UNK Lopers didn't have a center big enough to bang with Shepard. If she can put up those kinds of numbers in March, then Nebraska will be one of the most dangerous teams in the NCAA.
Happy Teammates in Happy Valley
The Penn State Lady Lions' exhibition match against California (Pa) was a beatdown. Three Lady Lions hit double figures, and nine scored, and a big chunk of the credit goes to the passing of freshman point guard Teniya Page, who had 10 of the Lady Lions' 18 assists. She chipped in six rebounds and had seven points on six shots. These Lady Lions are stacked with interesting guards, but it seems as if Page has won the starting spot.
Dan Olson had Page as the 27th best high school player in the country, an "explosively athletic floor leader with a scorer's mentality", so it's interesting to see her come out as a distributor. And by "interesting," I mean "meaningless." Exhibition basketball!
The Most Depressing Score Of The Weekend
The Maryland Terrapins came just short of beating Goldey-Beacom College by a Wilt Chamberlain. The final score was 127-33. Maryland came six points shy of a 100 point margin of victory, which doesn't impress me so much as make me feel sorry for the poor student athletes of Goldey-Beacom.
A staggering seven players were in double figures, but the star was freshman Kiah Gillespie, who had 22. Dan Olson's 25th best high school prospect finished up with 10 rebounds to round out the double-double. Unlike Shepard, who is bigger and stronger than just about everyone else, Gillespie is only 6'1", and has to get her rebounds with positioning and athleticism.
Olson compliments her "pro frame" as well as her agility and versatility. An athletic wing/forward type, she doesn't plug the Terrapins point guard-shaped hole. Then again, maybe you don't need players who can dribble when your whole team is enormous.
This is the first installment of our Weekly Women's Roundup, which will soon include actual games that mean something! One weekend of (exhibition) basketball is past, and while we won't be writing any names into the history books just yet, several players we thought would make an impact are doing just that. Now, can we please have some real basketball, please?