There was a time when Coach Don Brown sent his Knoxville Lady Panthers onto the court as much as possible. Over time, Brown has learned that “more” isn’t always “better.”
“I used to think that we should be out there every second possible when we could be in front of the college coaches,” Brown said. “Eventually, I found out that might not be the best thing for us. Our kids play very hard, and in the past we would start out great, but then there would be injuries and fatigue, and we wouldn’t be playing very well at the end.
“Now we try to pick and choose the best events because we want to give our kids an opportunity to play their best every time they are in front of college coaches. It works best for us if we pick out the events that are loaded with college coaches, and loaded with talent.”
One of those events will be the 2015 Nashville Tournament of Champions. The Nashville event is being organized by the staff from the All Star Girls Report, and it will be held July 10-13. A national level field will be competing in the HoopTown venue.
“We have a young group this year because we lost several Division I kids from last year’s team,” Brown said. “They have progressed throughout the spring, and we’re looking forward to July. I really think we are going to turn a lot of heads in July.”
The Lady Panthers will be led by Kayla Mullins (2016, 5-9, CG) and Olivia Pepperman (2017, 5-10, G).
“Kayla is a great all-around player,” Brown said. “She scores, she defends … She is just a coach’s dream. Offensively, she can score every way possible. She can shoot outside, post up smaller players, or score off the dribble.
“Olivia had her coming out party at the Deep South Classic. She had a great tournament, and there have been a lot of calls about her. She has unmatched athleticism, and incredible anticipation on defense. She can get to the rim at will, and her jump shot is really improving.”
Brown is also excited about three prospects from the Class of 2018 — Taylor Lamb (5-10, F), Sydni Lollar (5-11, CG) and Panda Riggs (5-11, G).
“Taylor is only 15, but she has a college ready body. She can physically dominate most of the players she faces,” Brown said. “She is working hard to get her shooting range out to the three-point line. Defensively, she has great footwork and she is very intense.
“Sydni is another very, very intense player. She is a long athlete who can play the point, she can shoot the three, and she can take people off the dribble. She also has great vision. Sydni is a great all-around player, and we’re excited about her future.
“Panda just moved up to our top team in July. Her skill level is unsurpassed, and we’re really anxious to see what she can do against top flight competition.”
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