Basketball has become pretty much a year-round endeavor for the Rogers’ girls program the last few years, and the work some of the Rams have done this summer has certainly paid off.
With the summer AAU schedule completed last week, and the 10 days of offseason work done, Rogers heads into the 2013-14 school year with four players having made verbal commitments to Division I college programs.
The most recent commitments came in June from rising seniors Sasha Dailey, a 5-foot-8 guard, and Tori Easley, a 6-1 forward. Each accepted scholarship offers from Eastern Michigan, where they intend to join their former teammate, two-time City League player of the year Cha’Ron Sweeney.
“I’ve been working hard on my game since I was a little kid,” said Dailey, who averaged 12.1 points per game last season. “When I got that offer it was a good feeling because now me and Tori can go play in college with Cha’Ron.”
“It’s close to home, and my brother [Tribune] is going there too, so that’s good.”
Dailey is also one of the state’s top track and field athletes.
“Some people tried to pressure me into going to college on a track scholarship,” Dailey said, “but I don’t really like track as much. It just comes easy to me. I was always going to go for basketball.”
Sweeney, the lone senior on a squad that went 24-4 and reached the Division I regional final last March, has joined the EMU program on scholarship this year.
June also saw two of the younger members of the Rams’ 2013-14 team — 6-0 sophomore guard Akienreh Johnson and incoming 5-7 freshman guard Brelynn Hampton-Bey — make verbal commitments to the University of Michigan.
“This is really good for our program getting these girls on to play college basketball and get an education,” Rogers coach Lamar Smith said. “These young ladies put in a lot of work over the summer, and I’m very proud of them being able to move on to the next level.
“This is exciting. It’s huge. That’s what we’re working for.”
In his first two seasons as coach, Smith led Rogers to a 17-6 record and D-II district-final advancement in 2010-11 and a 19-5 finish in the regional semifinals in 2011-12.
Three other Rams are also the target of college recruiters. Smith’s daughter, Jasmyne, the unfortunate victim of separate ACL tears in both knees the last two years, is a 5-9 guard who is getting recruiting interest despite missing all of her sophomore season, and all but six games last season.
Fellow senior Marquelle Williams, a 6-1 forward, is also getting D-I looks according to coach Smith, who said that Rogers’ 6-2 sophomore forward Keasja Peace has already received offers from Michigan, Toledo, Eastern Michigan, and Central Michigan.
Obviously well stocked in talent, Rogers has upgraded its 2013-14 nonleague schedule to one of Ohio’s toughest slates.
The Rams will play a top Michigan or Chicago-area team in the Roundball Classic in December at Detroit Country Day, three games in a prestigious invitational in Naples, Fla. (Dec. 30-31, Jan. 1), and two games (versus Ohio D-I powers West Chester Lakota West and Wadsworth) in the highly competitive Classic in the Country in Berlin, Ohio, in mid-January.
Rogers will also have games against Notre Dame (Dec. 21), which has won back-to-back Three Rivers Athletic Conference titles and reached the D-I state semifinals the last two years, and traditional state powers Canton McKinley and Columbus Africentric.
“We’ve got a lot of talent here and a real good team,” Dailey said. “We want to make things happen at Rogers. This is our year.
“We’ve put in a lot of time and hard work. We’re excited about having a good season this year. We’re playing a tough schedule and that’ll just make us stronger for the state tournament run.”
Before they tackle that schedule, 11 of the 12 girls projected to make the Rams’ varsity basketball team will run on Rogers’ girls cross country team, which also happens to be coached by Smith.