It's the most wonderful time of the year! Nothing is better than the Spring Live Period!
Scouts, fans and college coaches pack gyms to catch the next great star. There are countless great events to attend, but none are more powerful and popular than the Under Armour Association, The Adidas Gauntlet and the Nike EYBL.
As media and fans we have our view point on the event, but nothing is more authentic and pure than the view of the athlete. It's only right that we hear things from the players themselves and view things through their eyes. We have selected a player on the girls and boys side each session to do a mini diary discussing their journey that weekend. The first one will be a player from the Nike EYBL from the Philly Belles named Kylee Watson.
The future is bright at Mainland high and a big reason that many people see light at the end of the tunnel is Kylee Watson. From her first game on the court, Watson has had a massive impact on the culture and success of the program at Mainland High. Much was expected from Watson from the door and like the mailman, she delivered.
Upon watching her play, it’s easy to see why scouts are locked in. Even though she is a sophomore, Watson is 6’2 and has a wide array of power moves and counters down low. She’s a force on the glass and a terror on the defensive side of the floor.
Below is the diary entry of the first EYBL session by Kylee Watson. -as told to Christian Mordi @thedribbledrop
My name is Kylee Watson and I play for the Philly Belles. We are on the Nike EYBL circuit. A lot of great players have come out of the program, like Seattle Storm star Breanna Stewart. We have a great organization that really builds our players up. The program director is Kevin Lynch and Mike Flynn is apart of the program as well. It’s really cool to be apart of a organization that has succeeded at a high level before and really knows their stuff.
Going to an EYBL session and being apart of the EYBL is such an amazing experience. The intensity and competitiveness that comes with every game cannot be matched.
This weekend we played at Boo Williams. The gym had four courts. All eyes are on you and everyone wanted to perform at the highest level.
There were a lot of heavy hitters in the basketball world that were at the EYBL this weekend. Former players, current players and big time head coaches. Any big school you could think of was there. Muffet McGraw from Notre Dame was there. Geno Auriemma from UConn was there. Oregon head coach Kelly Graves was there. Shakira Austin ( Editors note: Austin #3 overall recruit in the class of 2018 according to ESPN and is signed to Maryland) was there. It was great to see former EYBL players there watching us during our journey. It was very exciting. With that being said, you block all that out once the game starts as you are just focused on winning the game.
Our first game was against the NYC Exodus. We have a little tri-state rivalry thing going which gave the game a little extra juice. We jumped out to a good start early. The EYBL is something different. You can never ease up as teams are playing to the last second. The game got super close and ended up going into overtime. We ended up pulling out the win and I think it showed a bit about who we are. We didn’t let adversity get to us.
One matchup that I think everyone was looking forward to was the one between myself and Exodus forward Nat Marshall (Editors Note: Marshal is ranked #14 overall in the class of 2020 according to ESPN.) We played a little bit of zone, but I got to matchup against her one on one in spots on both sides of the floor. I know her through the basketball grapevine and I met her at Team U.S.A. It’s always fun and challenging going up against her. She can hit the midrange shot and attack you down low. I love playing against players like that who are very skilled and pull the best out of you.
We later played the Central Florida Elite. We were coming off a tough loss earlier in the day and wanted to get back on track. The entire Boo Williams tournament in a sense was us getting used to playing with each other and creating that synergy.
We later played against All Ohio. They have a really good played named Jordan Horston (editors note: Horston is the #8 ranked player overall in the class of 2019.) She’s on the USA 16U team as well. I am very familiar with her. She is a super athletic, point guard-wing type of player. She really can play any backcourt position. Very talented. Across the board they had a pretty athletic team and it was fun playing against them.
The last game was against the Cal Stars. This one was pretty important to us. Last year they were undefeated in EYBL play until they played us at Nike Nationals in Chicago. We had a type of Cinderella story pulling off that win. It was their only loss the entire year and they were out for blood that game for sure. It was a rivalry game of sorts.
One of their star players is Haley Jones (editors note: Jones is the #2 ranked player in the class of 2019 according to ESPN.) Cameron Brink is one of their top players as well (editors note: Brink is #1 ranked player in the class of 2020 according to ESPN.) We play similar positions as well. Two very talented players who do a great job at leading their team. That game was very exciting. A lot of back and forth. It was very intense. Stands were filled with players and coaches. It was a great atmosphere to play in. It went down to the wire in overtime and foul shots really determined that one.
We walked away from the first session 3-2. Our next big session is in Indianapolis in July. A lot of our team is going away for the USA trails. That’s going to take up a bit of our time, but that’s an amazing honor for those who make the team. I’m really excited about the trials. Those start Memorial Day weekend and will be a lot of fun.