Rodney Storms sat in the Comcast Center stands last month during the Maryland women’s basketball program’s elite camp and struck up a conversation with the mother of Lexie Brown. Three summers ago, Brown – now a freshman point guard for the Terps – committed to Brenda Frese’s program when she was just a rising high school sophomore in Georgia.
The fortuitousness of the conversation wasn’t lost on Storms, who had brought two rising sophomores on his Atlanta Cagers AAU team up to College Park for the camp. Days later, South Forsyth (Ga.) guard Sarah Myers and West Forsyth (Ga.) center Jenna Staiti decided to follow Brown’s path from Georgia to Maryland by making their commitments two years before they will graduate high school.
“Why commit so early? That was something that we talked about for a long time – myself, their parents,” Storms said. “We were able to talk to the Brown family, who committed early. It just really gave their daughter the ability to focus on becoming the best player that Maryland wanted.”
In Myers and Staiti, the Terps’ landed two prospects with similar backgrounds but vastly different games.
Myers, 5 feet 11, averaged 18.9 points as a freshman for South Forsyth. With a father who played Division II basketball and an early introduction to the sport – Storms has coached her in summer ball since she was 8 – Myers reportedly possesses great maturity toward the game.
“She has a jump shot that is one of the most beautiful jump shots I’ve seen,” Storms said. “She has a high basketball IQ. She’s 5-11, still growing, long arms, long feet. She’ll be a sophomore starting in August. She can score from anywhere. She can defend, shoot jump shots, she can drive. She does everything.”
The Atlanta Cagers practice three times a week during the summer. Myers also shoots with her dad another two or three days a week. And once a week, she works with a trainer who also trains “a guy that’s trying to get back into the NBA, two college players, then another elite high school kid,” Storms said.
“We were sitting [at Comcast Center], watching [them play] and just talking,” Storms said. Lexie Brown’s mother “said, ‘God, she reminds me of how Lexie looked in ninth grade.’ Lexie was a McDonald’s All-American, a top-rated player. So that was a huge compliment. Sarah is going to be a phenomenal college player. She is truly, truly dedicated to the sport.”
While Myers spent her free time on the basketball court in elementary and middle school, Staiti was in the pool. A nationally ranked swimmer, Staiti just started playing basketball with the Cagers after her eighth-grade year. The 6-foot-5 center has dominated other girls her age, but there’s still plenty of development ahead.
“We would watch her play in seventh and eighth grade. She was 6-1 at the time, everyone else was 4-11, 5-1,” Storms said. “She didn’t learn the physicality of the game, the mental aspect of the game or develop a basketball IQ. She’s come a long way. But her upside is through the roof. It’s coming with competition.
“The person we compare her to is UConn’s Stefanie Dolson – probably the top post player in the NCAA for women’s basketball. She has that opportunity. She’s 6-5 now, has a swimmer’s body, looks like Michael Phelps, the girl version. Unbelievable. She’s going to be really great.”
Storms said that Myers – a 3.9 student – hopes to study journalism at Maryland. Staiti, meanwhile, looks forward to continuing her development with what Frese wants in a post player in mind. The coaching staff was a big factor for both players, Storms said.
“Being a top-five program, you have stability in the program,” he said. “When you’re at a mid-major school, you have coaches still looking to climb the ladder – two years here, three years there. It’s a transitional type of situation. Stability is key in players’ development and growth. … That stability is key. Where does Brenda go? She’s already at the top of the mountain. There’s great stability in that program.”