One of the constant complaints about all-star games at all levels is the lack of cohesive play. According to former UVa women’s basketball assistant Tim Taylor, that can have a negative impact for the players involved.
The Central Virginia Showcase, run by Taylor, Culpeper coach James Thompson and Eastern View’s Patrick Thornhill, is looking to reverse that trend.
“A lot of these all-star games they show up and don’t know each other, if these colleges come to see them and the product is bad, it’s going to hurt the kids,” Taylor said. “We’ve had at least six practices where we’ve had 12 of the 20-some kids. Last night we had 18 of them.”
The Showcase, with a $5 ticket price, is scheduled for Saturday night at Orange County, with the program starting at 6 p.m. with a 3-point shootout, a dunk contest and then the game around 7:30 p.m. Among those competing are Albemarle’s Myles Ward and Chris Cox, STAB’s Dalton Taylor and Mesiah Woods, Madison’s Gaines Swink and Elijah Lewis, Tandem’s Jalen Anderson, Fork Union’s Antonio Pua’auli-Pelham and Woodberry Forest’s DeQuece Carter.
Taylor, who was also the head coach at Orange County and then Madison County, is one of the few people who has seen a lot of these players, the ones from around Charlottesville at least, play together. A pack of them played for Taylor on a travel squad starting back in seventh grade.
But the Central Virginia Senior Showcase is putting together more than those players together. It’s pulling players from Stafford, Prince William County and Culpeper Counties together with players from Central Virginia schools to create a final chance for a group of seniors to suit up before they head to college as players or students.
“These practices have brought kids together that didn’t know each other and they’re talking to each other,” Taylor said. “We want them to play together, understand what each other’s strengths are.”
That’ll help them play well in front of college coaches that have already been viewing practices. Taylor, Thompson and Thornhill have reached out to 250 schools ranging from Division I to Junior Colleges to Prep schools inviting them to come to the event. They’ve been preparing the players for that possibility too.
“We’ve helped them learn what coaches are looking for — eye contact, how you react to a mistake — it’s not just putting the ball in the basket,” Taylor said.
That’s the ultimate trajectory for the event. Play quality basketball with an aim toward getting as many regional players an opportunity to play in front of college coaches and hopefully get a chance at the next level. If things go as planned, the group wants to add a women’s game next year, likely with a similar approach to create a quality environment and multiple chances for players to be seen.
“The goal is to give kids an opportunity to reach a goal or find the right school if they have not already decided where they will play,” Taylor said. “This should be a great event and we hope Central Virginia Basketball fans will embrace and support it.”