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With the Underrated Tour, Steph Curry takes on the game of limits, biases

Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry transformed the NBA with his three-point shooting prowess. Now, from his gender-inclusive Underrated basketball camp to his Curry shoe line at Under Armour, he is using his influence to change another game. Also in this week’s “Hoops Happening” column: NCAAW Final Four, WNBA Draft and more from the world of women’s hoops!

NBA game-changer Stephen Curry
Photo courtesy of Samuel Kfare for Underrated

Stephen Curry is a three-time NBA champion, with his Golden State Warriors going for their third straight title and fourth in five years. He is known for raining threes and currently ranks third for the most made 3-pointers in NBA history. But before Curry would rise to a level of not only dominating but transforming NBA basketball, he was a skinny kid from Charlotte, N.C. — a three-star recruit with a retired NBA father, but unsure if his own basketball dreams would come true.

In a January essay in The Players’ Tribune, Curry wrote about being an underrated high school player trying to get onto the radars of Division I colleges, with recruiters and others writing him him off as being too skinny, too weak and too unskilled.

So, how did Curry get from being counted out and written off? He shirked off the naysayers who harped on what he couldn’t do — yes, as a less muscular high school and college player, battling under the basket against bigs would not have been his strength — and identified and developed what he could.

In that vein, Curry founded the Underrated Tour of basketball camps for high school athletes ranked three stars or lower. The camp, which kicked off in Los Angeles in January and wrapped up over the weekend in Oakland, provides student-athletes with “best-in-class resources, tips and hands-on training from elite coaches including Curry’s trainer Brandon Payne,” as well as instruction on “fundamental basketball skills, scrimmage games, dribbling, defensive techniques ... shooting drills” and “lectures from special guests, team-building exercises and lessons on collegiate needs and NCAA eligibility.”

The goal for the camp is to help kids find their hidden talents so that they aren’t written off for their limitations.

Curry wrote:

I think we’re putting kids — kids who love to hoop, and who should be out there exploring that love — in a situation where a bunch of limits are being placed on them by other people. A situation where the limits of what they can accomplish are being put in place before they’ve gotten to test those limits for themselves. And so that’s the idea behind The Underrated Tour ... A camp for kids who love to hoop, and are looking for the chance to show scouts that their perceived weaknesses might actually be their secret strengths.

Slideshow: Underrated camp, Oakland

Curry’s campaign of change

Curry’s efforts to eradicate limiting labels is just part of what the Golden State star has been up to; he’s also been fostering gender inclusion in his various activities. For starters, the Underrated camp is inclusive, with seemingly as many girls in attendance as boys, while the Phoenix camp, which took place in February, was exclusively for girls.

Additionally, last summer Curry opened his SC30 basketball camp to girls for the first time. Therefore, it is likely the first time ever that girls were invited to an elite basketball camp run by an NBA player.

Azzi Fudd — who was named Gatorade Player of the Year on March 12 — attended the camp last year and has been invited to return. She blistered the field in the 3-point contest, taking out everyone except Curry.

Elena Delle Donne presents Azzi Fudd with the Gatorade Player of the Year award at Fudd’s Washington, D.C.-area high school on March 12, 2019.
Photo courtesy of Gatorade

But it took nine-year-old basketball player Riley Morrison writing Curry a letter to get Under Armour to offer all of the Curry models in girls’ sizes. Curry, whose oldest daughter is named Riley, replied to Morrison and expressed gratitude for being alerted of the problem.

On International Women’s Day, Curry debuted a special Curry 6 colorway that was designed, in part, by Riley Morrison.

In a recent episode of his YouTube series 5 Minutes from Home, Curry hung out with Morrison and Olympic gold medal swimmer Katie Ledecky. In addition to exchanging corny dad jokes with Morrison, Curry expressed how much it meant to him that she wrote him that letter.

Could Curry’s efforts to ensure full inclusion of his Under Armour line lead to WNBA players getting signature shoe lines sooner than later?

Through Curry’s commitment to including women in his basketball ventures, he just might be able to tip the balance of male domination which excludes women by default (at best) or intended omission (at worst). But things will only change if people in positions of decision-making power — especially men (because they still hold most of those positions) — listen, as Curry did, and take concrete action.

Gender-based inequities result from individual decisions. It is great to see at least one super wealthy, powerful person making the right decisions in an industry where women are marginalized most: sports.

To kick off what has been a very busy week for Curry, Stephen vs. The Game, a documentary plugged as an unflinching look behind the scenes of his successful basketball career, premiered in Oakland on Monday.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four

The NCAA basketball season is winding to a close with the Final Four tipping off tomorrow, Friday, April 5, and the championship game taking place on Sunday. Part of the pageantry will include the crowning of the Most Outstanding Player — an honor bestowed upon some of the best basketball players to ever play the game. Past winners include Chamique Holdsclaw (Tennessee), Cheryl Miller (USC) and Diana Taurasi (UConn), who each won it twice. But only one player in NCAA history has swept the MOP award, winning it all four years of her college career: Breanna Stewart.

To celebrate Stewie’s history-making collegiate season and present accomplishments as a WNBA superstar — 2018 WNBA champion, WNBA MVP and Finals MVP — here are some highlights to tide you over until the new season tips off next month!

Remaining 2019 NCAAW game schedule

Here’s how to watch the final three games in the 2018-19 NCAA season:

Final Four — #2 Oregon vs. #1 Baylor

When: Friday, April 5, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL

How to watch: ESPN2, WatchESPN

Final Four — #2 UConn vs. #1 Notre Dame

When: Friday, April 5, at 9:30 p.m. ET

Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL

How to watch: ESPN2, WatchESPN

National Championship — TBD vs. TBD

When: Sunday, April 7, at 6 p.m. ET

Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL

How to watch: ESPN, WatchESPN

2019 WNBA Draft

The WNBA Draft Class of 2019 is loaded. From guards like Louisville’s Asia Durr and (possibly) Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu to bigs like Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan and Baylor’s Kalani Brown, the 12 teams of the WNBA have an abundance of players to choose from, with the lowest-ranked teams in the league advised to choose wisely.

The 2019 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm is Wednesday, April 10, at 7 p.m. ET in New York City. The first round will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and the second and third rounds will be televised on ESPNU.

Click here for more information about WNBA Draft day.

Find all draft-related stories here:

Elsewhere in the world of women’s basketball

  • Legendary Connecticut Huskies coach Geno Auriemma is reportedly afraid of his players. Should he be?
  • Stephen Curry considers Sabrina Ionescu to be “a legend in her own right.” Can the Ducks get it done against Baylor, and then the winner of UConn-Notre Dame?
  • Tennessee is interested in Missouri State’s Kellie Harper for its vacant head coaching position. What are Harper’s prospects for getting the Lady Volunteers past the post-Summitt slump, despite Holly Warlick’s best efforts during the last several years?
  • Marquette’s Carolyn Kieger has been named head coach at Penn State.
  • UNC women’s basketball staff have been placed on leave pending an investigation into alleged mistreatment of students.
  • Liz Cambage won the Betty Watson medal at the Basketball Victoria Awards. Watson is considered the “founding mother of women’s basketball in Australia,” and the award in her name is given to players who have in some way elevated the game.
  • Coach Nicki Collen and members of the Atlanta Dream held a town hall meeting and here’s how it went.
  • Minnesota Lynx forward Temi Fagbenle was named Polish League regular-season MVP after averaging 14.4 points, 7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.2 steals and 1 block per game in pursuit of a 22-2 record for her CCC Polkowice team.
  • Charmin Smith has been hired to an assistant coaching position with the New York Liberty. She previously coached at Boston College.

There will be haters, there will be doubters, there will be non-believers, and then there will be you proving them wrong. -Jennifer Van Allen