So, you’re a senior. Your team just got eliminated from the NCAA tournament, or didn’t qualify in the first place. You REALLY want to continue your basketball career, but you realize that you aren’t one of the few that are a lock to be drafted by a WNBA team. So what do you do?
A few years ago, it was easy. The WNBA used to sponsor an open tryout camp for seniors to attend, and play before coaches and General Managers. With that gone, there are only a couple of options out there for seniors, and recently via Twitter we found out that a lot of the seniors don’t even know these camps exist!
So as a service to our recent eligibility completed NCAA players, here is a little information on two camps that will be held around the Final Four weekend in Indianapolis.
On Sunday, April 3rd, at Pike High School in Indianapolis, Merit Management Group, Inc., a sports agency, will hold a free agent camp. Their website has pictures on it from prior years, featuring present and former WNBA coaches Dan Hughes, Michael Cooper and Van Chancellor. It is run by Stephanie Stanley, and she has been doing the camp for several years. Please note that this camp is by invite only, and there is an online application on the website that you need to complete and submit that asks for the standard height and weight, plus your college, experience, and awards and recognition. They will review your application and contact you with an invitation if accepted.
The other camp will be held on April 11th, at Park Tudor School in Indianapolis. The ProHoops Free Agent camp is run by former WNBA GM Linda Hargrove and coach Jessie Kenlaw. This is an invitation only camp to give the top college seniors an opportunity to be evaluated by WNBA coaches and other staff members before the draft. Many college coaches have already received invitations for players to participate in this camp. Coaches and agents can also recommend players, and recommended free agents may also attend this camp. ProHoops also identifies that there will be time and sessions to meet with agents and coaches for advise on both US and international playing opportunities. There are testimonials on the website from Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn and Washington Mystics coach Trudi Lacey, as well as Alison Bales of the Atlanta Dream and May Kotsopoulos, who used the camp as a springboard to a Connecticut Sun tryout.
Both have fees that must be paid, and both require you to get there, and pay your own hotel costs. For a shot at living the dream though, is it worth it? That's something the player has to decide for themselves!
One person who talks about the importance of attending these camps is former Gonzaga Bulldogs star Vivian Frieson. After a strong college career at a mid-major university, Frieson was at that crossroads we mentioned at the beginning of this piece.
"Last year I attended Stephanie Stanley's camp and it was a great experience," Frieson said. "Not only do you get a chance to play some fun basketball against great girls but you also get to showcase your talents in front of the people that will be possibly picking you to join their team. While I was at the camp last year I got to meet Seattle storm head coach Brian Agler as well as [Tulsa Shock Coach] Nolan Richardson, who eventually picked me in the third round of the draft. I think getting a chance to meet and speak to him really helped my cause."
In whatever they decide to do, good luck to all the seniors and free agents in pursuing your dreams, and I hope you can make them all come true.