Published Saturday, June 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm / Updated at 3:10 pm
BASKETBALL
Recruiters tracking this Shooting Star
THE BISON ROSTER
• G Hannah Tvrdy: Committed to Nebraska.
• F Jessica Shepard: Committed to Nebraska.
• W Alexa Kastanek: Committed to Iowa.
• W Alex Nelson: Committed to William Jewell.
• P Chatrice White: Interest from Notre Dame and Stanford. Offered by Nebraska, Iowa, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Michigan State and Purdue, among others.
• G Lauren Works: Interest from Creighton, Drake and Princeton, among others. Offered by Colgate, Liberty, Quinnipiac, Lehigh.
• G Haley Moore: Interest from South Dakota and schools on East Coast. Offered by Drexel and Quinnipiac. Division II interest.
• G Brooke Kissinger: Interest from several Division I schools.
• G Jamie Kissinger: Interest from several Division I schools.



HITTING THE ROAD

The Cornhusker Shooting Stars started their travels in April when they played at a tournament in Chicago. In June, they'll compete in Kansas City; Ames, Iowa; and Minneapolis.

Things get crazier in July.

They'll fly to Cincinnati for a three-day tournament and then take off to Las Vegas for another.

After a few days at home, they'll head to Washington, D.C., for four days before flying to Kansas City for another event. From there, they'll take a chartered bus to Boulder, Colo., for their season-ending tournament.

Members of the team pay $1,400, which covers hotels, airfare and food. Shooting Stars coach and director Dan Lesoing said his budget for the Bison is $42,000.

He raises $30,000 from sponsors such as Bison Inc. and Blue Star/Nike.

Chatrice White used to alphabetize the recruiting letters she's received from basketball programs across the country.

“I don't any more,” she said. “I thought that took too much time.”

The 6-foot-3 post player from Shelby, Neb., tries to read the two or three letters she gets every day before she stuffs them in one folder, which soon will overflow into a second. Right now, there are lot of invitations to summer camps, which she declines because she's spending the summer with the Cornhusker Shooting Stars travel team.

Her summer coach, Dan Lesoing, is also busy. When he picks up his phone, he said, there could be a coach from Nebraska, Iowa or Iowa State on the line. Or Purdue, Michigan State, Notre Dame or Colorado. The list is endless.

“In June, the phone rings a lot with college coaches,” he said. “Lots of emails. They want to know where they (the players) are going and how the spring is going.”

Six of the nine players on Lesoing's 17-and-under Bison club have received Division I offers. Four have committed.

Hannah Tvrdy of Seward and Jessica Shepard of Lincoln Southeast picked Nebraska. Southeast guard Alexa Kastanek chose Iowa. Alex Nelson of Papillion-La Vista selected Division II William Jewell.

Lesoing is swamped by interest in White, whom the ESPN HoopGurlz website recently called the best post presence at the USJN Battle at the Border in Kansas City, Mo.

“Outside the Top 10 schools in the country, as of now, she could go anywhere she wants,” Lesoing said. “I could make a phone call and say ‘Chatrice is interested in you' and they would be interested.”

Schools such as Stanford and Notre Dame recently entered the picture for White, who is entering her junior year at Shelby-Rising City High School some 80 miles west of Omaha.

Why all the interest? Lesoing said it starts with the fact that White is a 6-3 post player, which is much harder to find than a guard. She also moves well and has a great frame, good hands and some strength. And she finishes.

“The best thing they like is she's a competitor,” Lesoing said. “She loves to play the game, and she loves to win. She plays hard. That's the best part of it.”

Lesoing said White has drawn comparable interest to former Bison players such as Marissa Kastanek, who starts for North Carolina State, and Emily Cady, who started as a freshman at Nebraska.

Lesoing started the Shooting Stars program in 1996 with one team of sixth- and seventh-grade girls. Now he has 24 teams for both boys and girls ranging from third grade to 12th.

Some teams are ranked nationally. Eight of the nine girls have returned from last year's 17-and-under squad, which was ranked 21st nationally by ESPN HoopGurlz. Their goal this season is the Top 10.

“It's basically gone from me attending the big-time tournaments hoping to play a really good team with talent where college coaches would be present to watch, and my team would just battle and battle and earn some respect from the coaches,” Lesoing said. “Now coaches are calling me. ‘Where are you? Who do you have on our team we should watch? Who on the younger team should we watch?'

“It's crazy.”

White loves playing summer ball with her team and seeing the country. She said it's still fun to get the calls and letters from coaches.

She plans to visit a few colleges this fall, although she's been telling coaches she likely won't pick a school until May at the earliest.

She has her own list of what she's seeking in a school. Academics is No. 1, with a good basketball program with good people. Playing close to home used to be a priority, but that may change with schools such as Stanford interested.

Being the center of attention hasn't given her a big head, she said.

“If I ever do,” she said with a laugh, “Dan brings me back down.”

Besides, she's got too much work to do this summer.

“I hope to keep improving as much as I did from my freshman year to my sophomore year,” she said. “I want to make that big of improvement. I want to get stronger and more physical.”

Contact the writer:

402-444-1034, marjie.ducey@owh.com

Contact the writer: Marjie Ducey

marjie.ducey@owh.com    |   402-444-1034

Marjie Ducey covers state colleges, women's sports, high schools, select sports, outdoors, holes in one, soccer, running and any other type of interesting story. She also puts out the metro edition and does some updating on Omaha.com.

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