Sports

Summer vacation?

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

Vivien McGinty loves watching basketball. She has become accustomed to the uncomfortable bleacher seats at gyms across the Puget Sound area.

She’s had to.

McGinty’s grandson, Federal Way High School senior-to-be Morris Anderson, is a basketball junkie. Anderson, a smooth 6-foot-3 swingman, plays the sport year-round with the ultimate goal of earning a college scholarship.

“Kids who are looking to make basketball their ticket to college, and possibly their career, end up playing ball all year,” McGinty said.

But it’s summer basketball that can really make or break a player. It’s when college coaches and recruiters are doing a bulk of their scouting before the winter high school basketball season. The summertime is when a player can get on the radar, which Anderson has done. Northwesthoops.com, a Web site dedicated to high school basketball in Washington, has him ranked as the No. 7 wing in the state.

“I’ve been putting in a lot of work,” Anderson said.

“I can tell you that Morris lives and breathes basketball,” McGinty said.

The summer basketball scene in Federal Way used to consist of pick-up games at Steel Lake Park. Things have changed.

In recent years thanks, in large part, to the trend of specialization, select teams and the pressure being put on athletes to get some sort of college scholarship, year-round sports have become the norm. And it’s not just basketball.

Sports participation used to be pretty simple. In the 1970s and ‘80s kids played soccer or football in the fall, basketball or wrestling in the winter, and baseball or softball in the spring. The lucky ones went to a summer camp for one week.

Now, summer leagues can be found around the Puget Sound area in any sport you can think of. Football passing leagues, volleyball, soccer, track, cross country, track, golf, wrestling and swimming.

But basketball during the summer has become pretty much a necessity for any boy or girl wanting to get the attention of college recruiters.

“Out of all the sports, there is really no break for a basketball player,” said longtime Federal Way High School boys assistant coach Doug Sloane.

Anderson can attest to that. He not only plays with his Federal Way teammates on a pair of summer league teams, but also plays and practices with a select team out of Seattle. Anderson, along with Terrell Smith, a sophomore-to-be at Federal Way High School, play for Seattle Rotary.

“I have been playing for three summers now,” Anderson said.

Things have been pretty hectic during the summer for Anderson and Smith, as well as the rest of the Federal Way High School boys team. The Eagles recently completed play in a pair of summer leagues — one at Tacoma Community College and the other at Seattle University. Federal Way ended up third in the TCC league, with a loss to Foss in the semifinals, and second behind state powerhouse Rainier Beach in the Seattle U. league.

“That really puts demands on the kids’ bodies,” said head coach Jerome Collins.

Those demands were at their highest levels during a day three weeks ago.

The playoffs were at the same time in both leagues, forcing Federal Way to play a total of four games in one day. The kids and coaches were forced to drive to Tacoma for a morning game, jump on Interstate-5 to Seattle for another game, then back to Tacoma for the third game of the day and then battle traffic back up to Seattle for their nightcap.

“I’m really happy with how the kids are playing,” Collins said. “That is a lot of ball. But it hurt us because we really didn’t have any structured time to practice. I think it’s good though. We gained a lot of experience and are getting used to playing with each other.

“I just don’t want the kids to get burned out.”

Anderson is far from getting burned out. He has one thing on his mind — he wants to play college basketball. The guard/wing has been getting several looks from recruiters thanks to his participation with the select Seattle Rotary team.

He has been attending two practices a day, one with his high school team and one with Seattle Rotary. Anderson also heads up to Garfield High School in Seattle for workouts with Jacque Robinson, the father of University of Washington guard Nate Robinson.

“Right now I should go (Division I),” Anderson said. “That’s my plan.

Anderson, along with Smith, left for Vancouver last week for one of the biggest select tournaments in the Pacific Northwest — the 2004 FinalScore.TV Invitational. The tournament included 44 of the best select teams around.

As soon as the pair got back to Federal Way, they were gone again. Anderson and Smith are currently in Las Vegas for the Adidas Big Time Preview tournament, which includes over 300 teams from across the country.

But even playing basketball year-round doesn’t guarantee a scholarship — far from it. Only one in 35 (2.9 percent) of high school senior boys’ playing basketball will play at a National Collegiate Athletic Association member school, according to statistics from the NCAA, the governing body of college athletics. Only 3.1 percent of high school senior girls playing basketball will play at an NCAA school.

“He reads basketball, watches basketball, studies basketball,” McGinty said about Anderson. “I’m sure it will always be a part of his life in some shape or form, as it has been since he was old enough to carry a ball.”

We’ll see what happens.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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