High school girls basketball has undoubtedly evolved over the past 30 years since the first American Family Insurance ALL-USA girls basketball team was announced. The rise of social media is a major reason why.
When 1992-1993 selection La’Keshia Frett Meredith was a standout forward at Phoebus (Hampton, Va.), Facebook, Twitter and Instagram had long yet to arrive, which, for better or worse, naturally limited the recruiting process for elite prep players.
“I couldn’t even imagine if all of those things existed during the time of my recruiting,” Frett Meredith says.
Fast forward to the present, and Notre Dame commit Taya Reimer of Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Ind.) — recently named to the 2013 American Family Insurance ALL-USA girls basketball team — says social media has affected the recruiting process in a “sometimes crazy, but also more convenient” way.
Recruiting’s growth is but one difference since Frett Meredith's playing days. We caught up with the former WNBA player along with Reimer for a conversation about the then and now of the game and a look at what Reimer can expect in college and beyond.
What’s distinctive about high school girls basketball you think can’t be replicated at the college or pro level?
Frett Meredith: The environment of high school ball and the association with your teammates and your friends is more relaxed. As you go on to college and even play after, it then becomes your livelihood.
I definitely think the stress level and expectations change, too. You still have fun in college. There’s nothing like the NCAA tournament and competing for a national championship — that’s the best thing ever. A lot of kids though, once they get to the college level, put more pressure on themselves.
Reimer: That’s kind of what I’m expecting. People always say it definitely gets a lot harder as you move up. Obviously that’s expected because it is a whole new level. I’m essentially starting over — going back to the bottom of the barrel. I’m excited to play against bigger, stronger and better players. I know it’s going to be tough, but it’s something I’ve been looking forward to all my life.
As a veteran of the game, what advice would you share with Reimer going into her freshman year at Notre Dame?
Frett Meredith: I remember seeing a TV special on (Connecticut’s) Breanna Stewart — about how she was playing really well and then she just hit a wall. She’s very talented. But, it doesn’t matter how good you are; your confidence is something you need.
Sometimes, especially during your freshman year, you can hit a wall — you have a bad game and you start to question yourself.
Be mindful not to lose your confidence. [College basketball] is just a different type of environment. It’s going to be tough — I don’t want to tell you anything different. My main advice is work hard and don’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes you may have a bad game, but don’t get down.
Discuss social media’s impact on recruiting.
Reimer: That was probably the craziest part of my recruiting experience. You could have coaches sending you messages on all kinds of social media as opposed to just calling. That does make it a little more strenuous.
Frett Meredith: I’m thankful for the time I came out of high school. Once I left the house, I wasn’t receiving calls, and I was able to set that aside and just be with my friends and not be bothered. With all the social media, I do feel sorry for all the kids. When do you get a chance to escape from it? You have your cell phone in your hand all the time.
Years ago, the possibility of a female playing in the NBA wasn’t even a thought. Now the game has exponentially grown to a level where it’s not a forbidden idea. Take, for instance, Brittney Griner. What do you make of this potential?
Reimer: It’s cool. When I was younger, I wanted to play in the NBA. You always want to prove that you can play with the boys and be as good. So for a girl to actually be considered as being good enough is inspiring and makes me want to work hard.
Frett Meredith: Yeah, I think that’s an ultimate compliment for her to be mentioned in the same breath as the NBA. At the same time, I’ve played with a lot of guys. It is different. The average guy who had good height would give me a lot of trouble. It would definitely be a tough situation, but I think she could do a lot of great things for the women’s game.