By Ryan Kaczmarski
Adidas hosted its inaugural 3 Stripe Elite Camp with 20 of the top Adidas (sponsored) AAU players within the nation at the Suwanee Sports Academy in Suwanee, Georgia. Coaches J.C. Hulls and Bryce Bow led the camp and Olmsted Falls High School junior and The National Basketball Academy (TNBA) player Kerri Gasper was the only Ohio resident to be invited to the event.
“It was the best of the best of the Adidas nation,” Gasper said of the camp. “It was amazing to play with these girls who will be playing for Big-10 schools. Many of these girls are going to huge schools, and it was a great opportunity for me to play against them, because they are stronger, faster and taller. It made me push myself and want to get better.
“The girls who are already committed (to a college scholarship) are a year older, so I want to get somewhere around their skill set, so I can go to play at the next level.”
Some of the girls that Gasper played with at the camp who are already signed to major colleges include Tyra Buss (Indiana University), Nike McClure (Washington State University) and Chayla Cheadle (University of Kansas).
“Most of the girls there are from the class of 2014, one grade above Kerri,” TNBA coach Kevin McNamara said. “These are girls committed to play in the Big-10, the SEC, PAC-10 and Big-12 programs. These are top-level BCS schools, and these girls are who’s who of girls basketball. These are girls that go to the U.S. Olympic trials, and some make the team. The collective level of talent, and where they are going to play basketball, in the class of 2014 is unbelievable.”
The selection for this camp was kept a secret from Gasper, and it came as a pleasant surprise for her.
“I was kind of shocked, because I knew (McNamara) was putting my name in there,and then I was just waiting,” Gasper remembered. “When he called me and told me, ‘Yeah, you got into the Adidas Nations Camp,’ I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m about to go to … I was mind-boggled.”
“Nobody else from Ohio attended the event,” McNamara reiterated.
Each girl who attended the camp was given a slew of Adidas merchandise, including game jerseys and shorts, socks, sweatsuits and shoes. A highlight of her trip to the camp was a tour of the Coca-Cola headquarters in nearby downtown Atlanta, where the girls had the opportunity to try more than 60 flavors of Coke, and have dinner at Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles.
“It was really nice, because (Adidas) decked us out,” Gasper said. “Wherever we went, we had to wear what they gave us, so we had T-shirts and shorts and sweats.”
It was not all fun for the girls, as they still had to do the work at the basketball camp.
“The first day was an easy day,” Gasper said. “The second day was the hard day. You would have to do punishments for losing a drill, like running sprints. Before you knew it, it was the last day and you’re scrimmaging, then it’s time to go home.
“It went fast, but it was still an enjoyable time.”