Cascade Sports Keith Booker “Protect Your Backyard”

Today in Cleveland at the Mid – American Conference (MAC) quarterfinals, the University of Buffalo defeated Bowling Green State University 70-64 to advance to the semifinals. They are two wins away from going dancing, advancing with an automatic bid to the NCAA Basketball championship tournament. It was a typical performance for Kirsten Lewis-Williams, Buffalo’s freshman combo guard – 37 minutes, 11 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Earlier this week, Lewis-Williams was named Freshman of the Year in the MAC Conference, an award she probably couldn’t imagine this time last year.

In March 2023, Lewis – Williams was posting triple doubles left and right and leading her Lake Norman team to a 31-1 record and a runner up finish in the NCHSAA 4A playoffs. Despite this, her recruitment for the next level, particularly as it related to NC and SC colleges and universities was going nowhere. Only three D1 or D2 schools in the Carolinas (South Carolina State, North Carolina A&T State University and UNC Pembroke) offered Lewis – Williams despite her dominance. While those schools should be applauded for recognizing her skills, it begs the question – How did so many schools miss out on such a unique and prolific talent?

Lewis Williams isn’t the only one. Take the case of Staci Williams (no relation), the former Holly Springs High School star who like Lewis-Williams graduated last year but went mostly unnoticed by the D1 and D2 schools in her backyard of North and South Carolina. Staci matriculated to Fairleigh Dickenson University (NJ) of the Northeast Conference. Williams recently was named conference Rookie of the Week in back to back to weeks. This culminated in her being named First Team All Rookie in the Northeast Conference. Another North Carolina gem, high caliber baller, is thriving in a cold weather state hundreds of miles from the sunny Carolinas.

I hope this is a cautionary tale for some of the coaches and programs here in North and South Carolina. There is an abundance of extremely talented basketball players in “The Hoop State”. Like a great Under Armour slogan from years ago stated – “We must protect this house!” Some of these schools in the Carolinas need to start protecting the borders and keeping some of this talent at home. I think it is obvious that Lewis-Williams and Williams could help a lot of programs here in the Carolinas. Hopefully we won’t be saying the same thing next year.