KATIE FOOS SHAKES THE LABELS…NYU GETS A PRINCESS!

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Katie Foos, gave NEW YORK UNIVERSITY  a verbal commitment last night. I could talk about that commitment today. I could tell you how NYU is one of the best schools in the country. I could tell you it’s one of the best D3 programs in the country, that they play to win national championships. I could tell you the games at NYU are exciting and the crowds at times are massive. I could tell you that NYU, is coached by one of the best around. While today is a great day for the Katie Foos and her family; today is a teaching day. Today you will learn it’s tough people that last… rather than tough times. Today I will give you a lesson on what to do when you are dismissed by others. Today you will learn what WILL POWER IS ALL ABOUT.

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COACH LAUREN HALL GREGORY HAS BUILT A POWERHOUSE

I remember going to watch an AAU game Katie Foos, was playing before her freshman year. She was knocking down jumpers and rebounding like a demon, off the bench. But for some reason she was replaced in the game. I was surprised and her AAU coach said that the girl ahead of her was just having a bad day. I said  ‘shouldn’t playing time be based on performance?’ Katie Foos, has found out that reputation some times is more important than anything else.  It’s been something she has had to deal with, every step of the way, on her journey to NYU. Katie Foos is one kid who can honestly say….I got here and nobody ever made my journey easy. She can say, I’ve had to overcome labels and been at times held to a higher standard than my peers….and I still made my dreams come true.

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I watched Katie Foos shooting as a sophomore at the Hoop Group. Her release was lighting quick and at 6ft, I thought OMG this kids is going to have a major impact off the bench for RFH. But all I heard for people was that her shot was too slow and her feet where too slow. I remember thinking are people watching what’s going on with this kid.  So Foos’s sophomore year was much like her freshman year. She was dismissed and not given much credit for her improvement. You see labels die hard once an opinion is formed. If people say something long enough it becomes the  truth, if your not careful. It looked as if Katie Foos had all the negative labels and they were not going away. But for some reason Katie Foos keep grinding away and trying to shake those labels. That spring after her sophomore year, she moved to the insanely talented Masonious Belles. In the Belles, Foos found a group of girls who did not believe the labels. She found a coach in Ellen Masonious who would really give her a chance to shine and show the labels, were wrongfully attached.  That summer I saw the Belles play and Katie was more than just a shooter. She defended, rebounded and passed. Katie Foos was doing this against the best competition, AAU had to offer. I remember thinking anyone saying this kid is just a shooter….. is clueless.

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Last season was a break out year for Katie Foos, but if the truth be told, she had to wonder if that breakout would ever come. You see labels die hard and reputations and not production sometimes determine playing time. Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the playing time…Katie Foos was no squeaky wheel. I remember speaking to her mother Kathy, I told her, “your daughter is going to play a big role for that team” Her response surprised me, she said “all I want is for Katie to get a real chance in a real game”. She knew that if Katie got a chance, she would prove her value. In the very first game of the year against #2 Manasquan, RFH was struggling and it looked like Manasquan would run away from the Bulldogs. But enter Katie Foos in the 2nd period, the same Katie Foos a year earlier, who could’ve never dreamed of hitting the floor so early in such a big game. All Katie Foos would do is put the RFH team on her back with 8 points and 2 big threes. She helped RFH put Manasquan on their heels and it appeared Katie Foos had finally killed all the labels in just one quarter. But she would soon find out labels are hard to kill. She barely played in the 2nd half, she became a ghost because reputations some times mean more that performance. But Katie Foos had her moment and her mental toughness would carry her until her next chance. The next chance came two nights later against eventual state champ SJV. On this night, Foos again was special as on three different occasions, she made three’s to either tie the game or put RFH ahead. No question after playing the best two teams in the state and stepping up big time, Katie Foos surely had killed the labels….she was wrong. Despite her 12 points and 3 rebounds against SJV, Katie Foos was still considered just a nice kid, happy to get on the floor. She got more time, but getting time in the meat of games was up and down. There were games she was lucky just to hit the floor….FOOS had simply seen this picture too.

As her junior year season rolled along, something happened for Katie Foos, RFH needed her. For the first time in her career Katie Foos was needed more by her teammates that ever before. Yes there was those who still tried to label her. There also were some heart breaking moments, like college coaches coming to watch her, only to see her ride the bench. It was in these times KATIE FOOS HAD TO LEARN HOW TO SURIVIE. There were those who continued to say she was too slow, weak on defense and was just a shooter…BUT KATIE KNEW… NONE OF THE ALL LABELS WERE TRUE.  She was got tired of all the labels and decided enough was enough. She took all her frustrations out on all those labels. She kicked them around, she made the labels look silly.  Katie Foos based on performance could’ve made a case, she should’ve been in the starting lineup in the middle of the RFH season. Because here is what Katie Foos did from January 30  to February …17 ..11..6 ..12..14 and 18 point games …and those games included state top 10 Notre Dame (11)and NY’s St. Joes (18). It was finally clear Katie Foos had finally beat the labels. But it was the it was mental toughness that really shined though in the CENTRAL GROUP 2 CHAMPPIONSHIP GAME. Despite these monster performances, Katie Foos found her self riding the bench against Manasquan in one the biggest games of the year. She could have sulked and screamed out loud, how can this be happening, why is this happening. I beat the label, shouldn’t I least get a chance? She did get that chance, because after riding the bench the entire game. With RFH down three, she was entered the game, for their  final play in regulation….and boom, just like that Katie Foos hit a game trying three at the buzzer. HER WILL WAS TOO STRONG FOR THE LABELS TO SURVIVE.…she proved reputation and being the squeaky wheel may get you time. But performance matters also…

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THE GAME BALL FOR PRINCESS FOOS!

So Katie Foos is going to NYU, but you must understand, she has had to overcome more than any kid I have ever seen. Her parents refused to play the political games, even when they knew she could have benefited from doing so. It would have saved a lot of tears, fears, anger and disappoints. They refused to make excuses for their daughter. They refused to let her take the easy way out. They gave her the environment to get better and let her do the rest. They’ve only wanted one thing, every step off the way….DON’T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIER CHILD’S  KINDNESS and lack of drama. Just because Katie Foos has never been part of drama, did not mean she cared any less. It simply meant that she just wanted to be treated fair along the way. That has finally happened, Katie Foos will be starting for RFH this year. She will be one of their leading scorers…nobody four years ago could have ever dreamed  this could have happened, the odds were just too stacked against her….so were the many labels…but she refused to let the labels crush her dreams.

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There is something special about all the FOOS KIDS. They all mature late, their nice kids who are NOT dying for your attention. They don’t ask to be treated special and they are all sooooo respectful. Sometimes it’s too easy to dismiss and take advantage of such kids. Their dad,  Dr. Foos,  has never said one word, about how at times, both his daughters were overlooked. But every time a kid gets a injury or needs surgery he is there. I have called Kathy Foos a dozen times, asking if she could call her husband and ask if he could see a injured player on short notice….he has never said no. I have walked into his office, in dying pain, only to have him take care of me. He is a TRUE GAINT IN HIS FIELD.  There is nobody and I said nobody, I would ever trust more with a player I love more than Dr. Foos, he is batting 1000%…  its kind of hard to beat that. Their mother Kathy Foos, is fire and believes there is nothing earned that doesn’t come from hard work. Katie has needed her mother Kathy Foos for one major reason. She needed somebody who could paint the picture and help her live the dream. Kathy is not afraid to speak her mind, when her children are not being treated fairly. She has seen too much of over the years. She knows being respectful and doing the right thing should not work against a kid. She protects her kids in her own way.  She knew that at times her daughter did not always get a fair shake during AAU or High school, but she refused to allow her to use it as an excuse for failure. She made her points, and then taught her children to move on after doing so…..NOW KATIE FOOS IS MOVING ON AS IN TO NYU….She will move on to NYU with all those labels left behind for some other kid…maybe…just maybe…their is a kid  who will read this blog and know….LABELS DON’T HAVE TO STICK, JUST ASK KATIE FOOS!

d5397krf CONGRATS TO KATIE FOOS…GOOD KIDS DO WIN FOLKS

 

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MIKAYLA MARKHAM AND COLUMBIA DO IT THERE WAY!

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There is one thing that has become very clear at St. Rose of Belmar; and that is hard work indeed pays off. Joe Whalen is a task master and demands much from his players. There is something else everyone knows, Joe Whalen has formed a special bond that is built on trust and hard work with all his players. But the bond he has with his star point guard is like none other. This weekend, that star point guard made one of the most shocking announcements of the fall…MIKAYLA MARKHAM GAVE A VERBAL COMMITMENT TO IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL… COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.

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THERE IS A REASON COACH GRIFFITH IS SMILING!

Columbia University is a program that has been hoping to change their fortunes. I give you a tale of two stories. First the best point guard in shore history during my time, Jackie Kates was attending Academic Elite. She had narrowed her choices to two schools. That day a guy by the name of Mike McLaughlin did attend Academic Elite. That day Jackie Kates committed to U Penn and that guy. U-Penn, were committed to going the extra yard.  That guy last year won the Ivy League Championship and went to the NCAA tournament. Three months ago Megan Griffith called me, she was the new head coach at Columbia.  She brought up the name Mikayla Markham, I said that would be a reach in recruiting.  Megan Griffith, said thank you and did what no coach at Columbia has done in recent years, recruit the best conference in America Anyway. She went about the business of building relationships, in this case with one of the best guards in all of New Jersey and her genius of a coach Joe Whalen. This weekend Coach Griffith and her staff, served notice their will be a new way of doing business at Columbia University…starting with how they recruit…MEGAN GRIFFITH IS DOING HER OWN THING AND DOING IT HER WAY!

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When Mikayla Markham was getting ready to enter high school, she had decided to attend Manasquan. This was the Manasquan team that had STATE PLAYER OF THE YEAR, MARINA MABREY. Plus D1 guards Courtney Hagaman, Stella Clarke, Addie Masonius and a guard by the name of Dara Mabrey all in the program. The chances of Markham playing would was slim and none and slim had already headed out of town. Remember  this was not the superstar Markham we see today… entering high school. This was the shy, often inconsistence shooter with a average handle. But it was then that we all  should’ve known Mikayla Markham was a great decision maker, because she changed her mind and decided  to attend St. Rose. It may have been the decision of her athletic career.

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Today Mikayla Marham is considered one of the Rolls Royce of guards. She and Dara Mabrey are the best junior point guards in the state. I put out a list of best point guards in the shore and it did not include Markham. Joe Whalen texted me and said your nuts, she is the best. It’s not just talk folks, Joe Whalen believes this with all his heart. He knows there are few if any kids, who get up everyday and shoot for 2 hours at 6am in the morning everyday. He knows of no other kids that are more coachable and buys into his system. He knows Mikayla Markham is a winner and big game player. He also knows that he can trust Mikayla regardless of the situation or how big the stakes are on any given night. The two have been the backbone of St. Rose’s recent historic run.

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Markham once was a talented young unassuming player. She did not want to be the center of attention or be in the spotlight. Today she is a confident  player, who is a leader on and off the court, who relishes the spotlight. Her mental toughness and willingness to be coached hard by Joe Whalen has separated her from almost all others. The ability to make shots behind screens and get to the rim at times can be breath taking. Who can ever forget her back backing three against SJV in the TOC semi-Final, to lead St. Rose to  its biggest victory ,since it’s SCT title; half a decade ago. Her Conference Player of the Year Award and the ALL SHORE AWARDS, seem to mean little to this young lady. Her focus comes down to two things winning and getting better….well apparently education as well…because Columbia University speaks for itself.

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Mikayla Markham, has pretty much done it all in her career to this point. She has helped put St. Rose in the national spotlight and helped make the school a household name. But it must be remembered, Markham did not do it with a silver spoon. NOTHING WAS HANDED TO HER.  She did not come into the school with a big reputation. There were no promises made to her. she had tough times on and off the court. There were no FREEBIES for this young lady. She understands what pain, heartbreak and disappoint looks like. She is very close to her family, her mother, father and brother give her 100% support. Her personal strength has been remarkable and breathing taking much like her game.  She has simply out worked everyone and now sits on top of the Mountain Top, both academically and athletically. There have been doubters along the way, like when I left her off my ALL FRESHMAN TEAM…how embarrassing does that look today. There were many with bigger reputations, but few if any with a bigger heart or game. It is she that now has the big name, but she was not given her reputation…SHE EARNED IT!

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Mikayla Markham is the kid, I wish all kids would be, work hard, don’t worry what people write about you, or what some blogger thinks, don’t play politics, stand on your on two feet BASED ON YOUR GAME…NOT HYPE. Understand, only you know what’s in your heart and what your dreams look like. Then let everyone brag about your game, when you reach greatness,  but never realizing you are a mega student as well. Be that type of student athlete  that could not only get into Columbia, but also brave enough and ego free enough, to say “NO” to bigger name programs. Mikayla Markham has so few things left to do….but winning  a high school national championship and maybe one day a Ivy’ League title, one day would be two of those things….CONGRATS TO THE MILKAYLA MARKHAM… COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY AND THE ENTIRE ST. ROSE FAMILY….THERE IS A TRUE SUPERSTAR STUDENT ATHLETIC REPPING YOUR SCHOOLS.

 

 

UPDATE–

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THE WAIT IS OVER..RILEY KEHOE COMMITS TO DOMINICAN COLLEGE

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Some decisions are hard and with some decisions there are sacrifices involved. These decisions may hurt in the short term, but often reap benefits long term. Nobody understands this better than St. John’s Vianney Guard, RILEY KEHOE who gave a verbal commitment and received a full scholarship to DOMINICAN COLLEGE.

RIELY KEHOE is someone that trains with me on occasion. She is not somebody I see on a regular basis. She has her own team of dedicated trainers and coaches. But a few years ago RILEY showed up at a training session I was running. I was surprised such a talented player could be a virtual unknown. I then asked her dad where does she attend High School and when he told me ..Then I knew why she was unknown. RIELY KEHOE played at ST. JOHN VIANNEY.

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There is double sided sword when you play at SJV. First nobody knows how to use there entire roster like Coach Karpell, she is a master at finding roles for players. She is not one to play a player against weak competition and then bench a player in the real games. Dawn Karpell develops everyone. But there is another side to SJV…they are stacked top to bottom with talent. A talented player could get lost…even a player that may one day get a scholarship to college.

I had a conversation with Mr. KEHOE, at the end of Riley’s sophomore year. I told him, I did not think RILEY would play until her senior year. SJV had 4 guards who would eventually sign at D1 schools plus Tina LeBron a ALL SHORE GUARD. While coach Karpell plays 12 people, I doubted she would play 6 guards in her rotation. To make matters worse SJV had a future D1 guard Sara Karpell on the way and the teams inspiring guard Julia Ramos coming along. My advice to Mr. KEHOE was it may be better for Riley to move on if playing time was more important than development. Because everyone improves at SJV …because the practices are 99 percent better than most other teams games.

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RILEY KEHOE decided to stay at SJV, she knew playing against studs everyday, was better than playing and starting on a weaker team. She chose development over ego, she chose her friends and teammates over media attention. She chose the school she loved, over personal glory…it was a risk that could backfired and caused her a basketball future in college.

Last year SJV lost 3 D1 guards to injury to start the season. It opened the door for RILEY KEHOE and Julia Ramos to shine. In there 2nd game of the year against the most talented team in the state, RFH. Riley KEHOE and Julia Ramos were lights outs vs. the team with 9 D1 players. KEHOE showed she could play in high stake games. She was brilliant early in the season. That is until Campbell and Crouch returned. But with Sara Karpell and Julia Ramos getting more and more time, KEHOE who would start for most teams saw less and less time. SHE HAD TO THINK..SHE MADE A MISTAKE.

Sitting next to Riley Kehoe who just committed to Dominican University

RILEY KEHOE won a SCT AND TOC title last year. She played her role but more importantly she was ready whenever Karpell called upon her. She is that rare kid who knew she could play with anyone given the chance. But she never became a cancer or a locker-room lawyer. Her parents didn’t become trouble for the coaching staff. RILEY KEHOE went about business of preparing for her senior year…do you know why? Because they knew RILEY would prove herself against the best.

BETH CHAMBERS has no match when it comes to AAU basketball. She is the Queen of developing players.  Nobody is more honest and challenges their players more. Rather play on a weak AAU team and brag about points, RILEY KEHOE decided she wanted to play for the best in the business… BETH CHAMBERS. It was the best move she ever made. Because college coaches all love any kids that are coached by Mary Beth Chambers…I CALL IT THE CHAMBERS EFFECT!

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This spring I went to see the JERSEY SHORE ELITE team play and to no surprise. I saw kids playing as a team, sharing time and most importantly only caring about one thing… development. While most AAU teams only care about winning. Mary Beth Chambers team only care about getting better. When kids get better, the team wins, the players showcase better and the scholarships come rolling in. One thing was clear when I saw RILEY KEHOE, the scholarships would be rolling her way. She was dominate on defense, she was murder in transition and was aggressive like I never thought she could be. The young lady who had spent three’s in the SJV wars at practice was BALLING. How good was KEHOE? I told Beth Chambers, she has a chance to be a D1 player…

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Good recruiters do there homework. They know the SJV bench has  D1 players all the time. They also know if they can get in early with a unknown stud, they can pull off a heist. Dominican College did just that. They offered Riley Kehoe in the spring and held on for dear life. They knew many schools did not know about her. She had little name recognition and that would help in there hopes of signing her. It’s rare for a D2 school to get a player of RILEY KEHOE talent early, most times the player will wait because they know they’re D1. But RILEY KEHOE has spent 4 years waiting for her chance to shine.

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Some kids have a backbone, some kid can handle being dismissed. Some kids know what it’s like to be passed over and not get the breaks…Sometimes these kids are so strong it makes no sense. There are kids whose belief is so strong you simply cannot SHAKE them. RILEY KEHOE is one such kid, it makes no sense for her to be still standing tall. NOT once along the way was she given a break…not once given the easy road to travel…but yet she never gave in or thought about finding the easier road on her journey.

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Her pride and ego had to be hurt often…but somehow she believed in herself. Why? Because she and her parents trusted that her talent would rise above any  obstacle . They were never jealous or bitter when others got the spotlight. They just believed from DAY ONE and knew the  sacrifices  and a positive attitude would finally pay off….THE KEHOE FAMILY  HAVE FOUND OUT  DREAMS REALLY DO COME TRUE….CONGRATS TO DOMINICAN COLLEGE AND RILEY KEHOE……it’s only right that both took a risk and both have been REWARDED!

 

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LAUREN LITHGOW…GREATNESS AWAITS!

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Three years ago 2 of St. Rose’s current stars were freshman. There barely played the entire season in games that mattered. They had to sit and learn from the upperclassmen. Then as sophomores they became role players during the Purple Roses historic run to the TOC final. Today Jen Louro and Ellyn Stoll are committed to Division one schools. Both will try and win the Triple Crown of girls’ basketball. They have a real chance to win the National Title, Shore Conference Title and the Tournament of Champions. It has never been done. But Joe Whalen and St. Rose in recent years has done a lot of things that have never been done before. Like letting his talented young players, learn his system and be humbled before becoming superstars. The most talented player on his roster is waiting her turn and make no mistake LAUREN LITHGOW is one the most talented players in all of New Jersey.

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The first time I saw Lauren Lithgow was as 7th grader. She was fast, could shoot and do something most young player can’t…DEFEND. There was no question, she was going to be a superstar. Her work ethic was sick and more importantly, she played with fire. She attended camp most of that summer, the only real question was where she would  attending high school one day. But then the girl who scored 50 points in a grammar school game, just disappeared. Just like a puff of smoke, Lithgow was no were to be found. I asked around and nobody knew where she was, that was until her father called me and said she out west. I was disappointed because I thought Lauren Lithgow would be another shore historic player.

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Two years ago a skinny girl who was now 5’9” walked in the gym with an electric smile on her face. It’s a smile you can see from a mile away. I knew it Lauren Lithgow and she was back. Her dad said she had returned to New Jersey and they were going to attend high school in the shore. I was excited because I knew the Shore Conference had picked up another SUPERSTAR! But it was when she was in the gym…. that I was blown away. The speed and the ability to control this speed, along with her next level quickness where a thing of beauty. More shockingly is when some current Division 1 players and a few that will be on their way next year, were matched up against her…this baby just crushed them. Lithgow was so explosive and was that rare young player that could not only finish at the rim; but also could bury jumpers. She had the speed of St. Peters Janae Mayfield, the shooting ability of DePaul’s Kelly Campbell, the Length of Holy Cross’s Nicole Morris and the work ethic of Wagner’s Kelly Crouch. Folks this was a package coaches dream about.

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It was two years ago, I watched Lauren Lithgow run by opponents in the Cardinal Classic. Her dad and I spoke afterwards, he told me Lauren would be attending St. Rose. She wanted to play for Joe Whalen, she felt he would develop her best. Joe Whalen has developed a team of Division one players at St. Rose. Players who entered the school with little or any fanfare, who have blown into stars. I asked him what he expected? He knew she would play varsity, the question was how much time she would get? I told him I have seen many great freshman sit, only to transfer out of angry. I have seen coaches relationships with players, totally ruined for sitting great freshman. It can be tricky business. Mr. Lithgow just said “I have to trust Whalen”. It’s exactly what he did and last season Lauren did not get real minutes in the big games. But she did not go south on her teammates, she worked hard and trusted Coach Whalen. It would turn out to be a great decision because Lauren Lithgow  has stepped her game up.

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Battle of Baltimore Champs

This summer it was Lauren Lithgow that hit the shot at the buzzer to help St. Rose win the Battle of Baltimore. Something no other team from New Jersey has ever done. It was Lauren Lithgow that gave up the spotlight and left the Toms River Starz the best 9th grade AAU team in New Jersey to go play with her high school teammates. It has been Lauren Lithgow who has been the good teammate and not make an issue over playing time. She is following in the same footpaths of her two superstar upperclassmen teammates. It is she now that is that star player in waiting, who now will be a major role player. It will be she that will give the team the shot in the arm when it is needed. It is she that will be called upon to defend like all St. Rose guards do, when facing elite talent. Lauren Lithgow will now start her march to greatness.

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Lauren Lithgow, was not on my list of Top 5 wing players. But here is what I will tell you, come next year she will be on the list and could be at the Top of that list. There are some talented players in New Jersey. But for raw athleticism and talent, folks Lauren Lithgow is also in the Top 5 in the entire state. She is a total gym in the mode of Dara Mabrey, and she has the physical tools that players and coaches dreams about. There is zero question Lauren Lithgow will one day be First Team All Shore and All State. These are just facts folks, because I see her in the gym against the elite players and it is simply… NO CONTEST!

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St. Rose is different than most schools when it comes to young stars, nobody is rushed along. Jess Louro of Middle Tenn., Kat Phipps of St. Francis were role players before stars. Joe Whalen is old school, he wants to know his kids are buying in and that they are ready. It’s a formula that has worked BIG TIME. He has designed a road map to success for his players. But his latest masterpiece, just may be his greatest work of art of all….LAUREN LITHGOW A SUPERSTAR IN WATING !

* college coaches I believe Lithgow has Power 5 talent*

 

IMPORTANT UPDATE

…if you are playing in the hoop group fall league tonight, come down before your games and join us for DEAD EYE SHOOTING…ONE HOUR OF SHOOTING  BEFORE YOU PLAY….THANK YOU VERY MUCH GYM RATS:)

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POINT GUARD SCHOOL IS TODAY …4PM  and if you are a guard at any level. This is a must program….don’t let anyone tell your different.

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