[Left to right: Mia, Dick and Madelyn taken at Admiral’s Inn in Alexandria Bay, NY]
Our farewell to the two winter sports of hockey and basketball are not about any games, playoffs series or championships. They’re about the story of twin 15-year-old girls from Clayton who are living a dream of their hockey future which they hope will be a long one, and what is always a much-anticipated event, the annual NBA draft.
First the hoops.
Let’s put aside who did well and who didn’t in the draft. Time will tell on that story.
You have to assume the top few picks will be kind of automatic as far as their future success is concerned. Many are hoping they hit it right.
Keep in mind this is no guesswork. These players are scouted many times during the season, attend tryouts before the draft and are interviewed intensely by coaches and executives. Believe me, when a team drafts a player, they know what they’re getting as far as the intangibles go, how they ultimately produce on the floor is another question.
The big story is the one-and-done story.
The top seven players drafted were freshmen who played only one year of college ball.
The only two athletes who played all four years for their schools were drafted 29 and 30. Get the picture?
It’s the way of the world now.
Is it good for college basketball that players show up for one year and leave? No.
Are these kids ready to play in the NBA and contribute? No.
Can anything be done to change the picture? No.
Just as a 14-year-old cellist may be ready for the Boston Pops, or a 16-year-old tennis phenom ready to take on the top pros, you can’t legislate against age or stop the progress of talented youngsters in whatever field you name.
So what really happens?
These freshmen with immense ability, physically not ready for the next level, get the chance to cash in financially. Some roll the dice and declare for the draft even though they might go higher in another year. What if they injured and never really get the chance?
So they go pro.
For practically all of them, they don’t play all that much. Other than the rarity of a LeBron James, they don’t make a team better. They wait until they’re really ready. What they do accomplish, is getting better by practicing virtually every day against their teammates. A valuable season-long experience, that the fans don’t see.
It has certainly worked for John Calipari at Kentucky who sells recruits on accepting one year and getting them ready to play in the NBA. He’s done it with success years including this one.
My alma-mater, Syracuse, won it’s lone national championship because Carmelo Anthony came aboard for a year.
I’m not complaining.
Mike Krzyzewski, the great Duke coach, has an interesting take on the issue.
He says if a youngster with top talent is looking for an NBA career, perhaps he should make himself available to the NBA directly after high school.
Why play one year in college when he has no interest in staying more than a year and is probably not attending classes to boot?
What difference does one-year make? Think about it.
The issue won’t go away. It’s the way of the world. The draft always a big event. Who went where. Just don’t expect immediate results.
The hockey story is a good one.
Mia and Madelyn Coene are 15-year-old twins from Clayton. They are following their dream just as young men are following theirs in basketball.
Legacy Sports has joined forces with a fine school in Rochester, Bishop Kearny.
Legacy is a world-wide youth sports company that sponsors world-class sporting experiences that have an impact on elite youth athletes. Their aim is to develop leaders in sports and beyond creating memories to last a lifetime.
So the twin girls, who hope to receive scholarships to play hockey in college, can play at a high level alongside the very best in their sport from all over map, including Europe.
Mia and Madelyn, who gave up the genteel life of figure skating for the rough-and-tumble action of hockey are attending the first of two camps this summer.
They have traveled with their parents, Bill and Selena, from Clayton to Syracuse for three years every weekend, to the tune of 100,000 miles in their car, they’ve played in games and tournaments, and have loved every minute of it.
In their inaugural season their team, Selects Academy from Bishop Kearny, won 51 games, lost only 10, and tied 8. They won a state championship in Buffalo and journeyed to Detroit for a national championship.
Their teammates come from all over, and their camp this week in Rochester will see the twins joined with gals from Germany and Sweden, as well as from Colorado, California, Florida, Idaho and Arizona, to name a few.
Their next camp in July is in Minnesota.
Imagine the experience. A couple of 15-year-olds from Clayton, having the opportunity to meet and get to know contemporaries from all over the U.S. and the world, competing on the highest level in a sport they love.
A sport they will continue to enjoy at least through their college years.
Let’s hear it for Mia and Madelyn!
Enjoy Dick’s FREE podcast, “Stockton!” where he shares a different perspective on the world of sports along with stories that he has collected from his unique front-row seat.
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