ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Camping season is over for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team, which will soon begin to focus on a more luxurious – and challenging – summer pastime.
The Lobos concluded the last of their annual summer youth camps Saturday, giving players slightly more than a week before meetings and individual workouts resume. Come mid-July UNM will begin team practices to prepare for its August trip to Italy.
The excursion, which begins Aug. 4, will include several basketball games and plenty of sight-seeing, giving the Lobos a head start on the 2014-15 season. It also means a longer-than-usual conditioning season, which prompted coach Yvonne Sanchez to give her team extended time off in June.
“If we’d kept them here all summer,” Sanchez said, “they’d never get a break. I thought it would be better to release them now, so everyone comes back in July ready to go.”
Some players stayed in Albuquerque for June classes and worked at the recent youth camps. Bryce Owens, Tori Henderson, Antiesha Brown, Ebony Walker, Khadijah Shumpert, Maddie Muraida and Marissa Perry were on hand for last week’s elite camp, but many Lobos won’t return until June 30.
Still, Sanchez and her coaching staff had plenty of assistance for their camps. UNM drew 95 players to its individual camp for ages 6 and older, while the elite camp attracted 40 high school-age players.
“I was really happy with our camps,” Sanchez said. “The elite camp is not about big numbers as much as quality and we had that. The talent level was as good as we’ve had in quite a while.”
The campers included prep players from New Mexico and elsewhere, some of whom are being recruited by UNM.
That group included Jannon Otto, a 6-foot-1 rising senior from Hesperia, Calif., who also visited Albuquerque last October. Otto averaged 21.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.4 steals and 4.0 assists at Oak Hills High School last season.
Some of the other players who turned heads at the camp included Gabby Doxtator, a 5-9 rising junior guard from Foothill High in Henderson, Nev., Nicole Archambeau (5-10, rising senior wing from Canon City, Colo.), Cibola’s Kristen Dearth (a 6-3 rising senior post), Lovington’s Myra Salazar (5-9, rising junior wing) and Juztice Perry (5-9, rising senior point guard) and Amaya Brown, the daughter of former UNM men’s standout Greg Brown who was an eighth-grader at LBJ Middle School last year.
NCAA rules prohibit coaches from commenting on unsigned players at camps who are considered recruitable athletes.
WALKER CLEARED: Walker, who missed most of last season after suffering a torn Achilles’ tendon in a game against Texas, said she was cleared for contact and full practice last week. The 6-2 post said she is eager to begin preparing for UNM’s trip to Italy and her upcoming senior season.
“Ebony’s doing great,” Sanchez said, “but we’re going to take it slow with her. We need her in October more than we’ll need her in Italy.”