Franklyn Calle has a nice article in SLAM magazine on the most dominant guard in recent Arkansas basketball history.
He talked to Tyler Scaife, Little Rock High’s McDonald All-American, about why she chose Rutgers over the likes of Tennessee and Baylor. Turns out, Scaife’s favorite player is Cappie Pondexter, the 5-9 Rutgers alum who in 2011 was voted as one of the top 15 players in WNBA history. Scaife, who also stands 5-9, told Calle: “[Rutgers] Coach Stringer does a great job of molding guards and putting them in the WNBA. I felt that Rutgers fit my style of play.”
Scaife will try to finish her high school career in style by bringing Hall a long-awaited title in the state playoffs over the next week and a half. In 2011-12, Scaife averaged 25.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 3.7 steals but Hall finished the season at 23-6 after losing in the 7A state semifinals to Fort Smith Northside. This year, Scaife’s numbers had dropped through early February (24 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, 3.1 steals and 1 block) but in recent weeks she has ramped up her performance as her team has steamrolled to a 26-2 record and #1 state ranking.
Depending on how Hall finishes this season, Scaife could have a legit argument to be the best female player in state history. As I see it, her main competition for this designation is Shekinna Stricklin, who was a force of nature at Morrilton High 2005-08. Stricklin, like Scaife, won two Gatorade player of the year honors to go along with the McDonald’s All-American honor. Here are some other Stricklin benchmarks Scaife will be measured against:
- Named all-state and all-conference all four years of her high school career
- Started in all 120 games played and totaled 2,690 points, 1,400 rebounds, 726 assists, 474 steals and 605 blocked shots
- Had 45 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in the 2008 state finals her senior year
- Parade Magazine All-America Second Team (2008) and Third Team (2007)
- 2008 USA Today All-USA First Team
- The 2006 MVP of the Arkansas State AAAA championships after her 30-point, 16-rebound, four-assist and four-block performance in the championship game to lead Morrilton to the title
Check out this month’s issue of SLAM (Russell Westbrook cover) for the complete Scaife article.
I just got this insight from longtime Arkansas sportswriter Walter Woodie. The man has seen plenty of good ball in his day:
Before you call her the best in the 5-on-5 era, you might want to think about Wendy Schoeltens of FS Southside.All-American at Vandy, played in Europe/Asia before WNBA. Also in Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Besides Stricklin, do not forget Hot Springs’ Shemeka Christon, who was the SEC Player of the Year at Arkansas.She is in the argument, yes, but not the best. At least, not yet.
Shekinna Stricklin Joins Mt. Rushmore of Highest Arkansan Draft Picks in Major Sports League HistoryPosted: April 18, 2012
On Monday, Morrilton native Shekinna Stricklin became the second Arkansan to be taken as a #2 overall pick in the draft of a major sports league* By my count, only former NBA players Jim Barnes and Joe Barry Carroll have been drafted higher among native Arkansans. Congrats to Stricklin, who will soon be starting training camp with the Seattle Storm. Throughout her college career at Tennessee, she proved to be the one of the most versatile women in college basketball (I’d say #2 overall, after Delaware’s ridiculous Elena Delle Donne, who likely has been giving Joe Foley nightmares for weeks)
Here are athletes with Arkansas connections to be taken highest in a major sports league’s regular draft**:
- Number #1 – Jeff King of Arkansas Razorbacks (1986 by MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates)
- Number #1 – Jim Barnes of Tuckerman (1964 by NBA’s New York Knicks)
- Number #1 - Joe Barry Carroll of Pine Bluff (1980 by NBA’s Golden State Warriors)
- Number #2 - Lamar McHan of Lake Village and Arkansas Razorbacks (1954 by NFL’s Chicago Cardinals)
- Number #3 – Cortez Kennedy of Osceola (1990 by NFL’s Seattle Seahawks)
- Number #3 – Kay Eakin of Atkins and Arkansas Razorbacks (1940 by NFL’s Pittsburgh Pirates) [h/t to @bwaldrum for bringing Eakin to my attention]
None of the above #1 picks graduated from an Arkansas high school like #2 picks McHan or Stricklin. Jeff King was a Colorado native. Joe Barry Carroll moved to Denver as a child and Jim Barnes moved to Texas as a teenager.
*Yes, I consider the WNBA a major sports league. Basketball is a major sport, and millions of women play it. Although those women can earn more money in overseas leagues, no female league in the world surpasses the WNBA in terms of a) quality of basketball competition and b) a platform for marketing opportunities.
** No supplemental or January drafts for me. Also, call me lazy and irresponsible, but no checking of the NHL or MLB draft histories either. I simply can’t believe an Arkansan has snuck into the top three picks in either of these sports, despite the wee-est sign of emergent national cache in soccer. For that matter, I would be shocked if an Arkie has gotten into the top 10 picks in either sport.
But I’m open to surprise. So please, somebody, surprise me.
UPDATE: Surprise accomplished. Turns out former #1 overall MLB draft pick, Pat Burrell, spent the first few years of his life in Eureka Springs before moving to California, playing against Tom Brady in high school football, becoming an actual Hurricane at the University of Miami and then a metaphorical hurricane of drinking, sexing and bat-swinging at subsequent major league stops in Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and San Francisco. [h/t to Caleb Hardwick]