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IMG Academy Girls' Basketball Program Taking Big Steps Forward

Building a program is never easy. In fact, building a successful program is quite difficult and relies on unwavering leadership, commitment, winning, and a little bit of luck. Led by Head Coach Shell Dailey and Assistant Coach Lakita Ford, the IMG Academy Girls Basketball Program has the building blocks in place to take giant leaps forward. Significant gains in the past few years signal great things to come for this program. Next year, the IMG Academy Girls Basketball Program will compete with two teams for the first time and welcome student-athletes from the United States and all around the world. That group includes five international players currently representing their countries by competing on national teams. As a result of a strong international influence, the elite level of talent, and our excellent coaching staff, last year's team finished with appearances in both state and national tournaments. Recent success on and off the court has translated into 100% college placement among our graduating seniors.

The consistent and impressive growth in girls' basketball is not isolated to the Academy team. Summer programs this year have more than doubled in size.

These campers here are serious competitors, committed to improving their game by developing and training their skills. Attracting athletes from places including Russia and Japan, these dedicated female athletes have the unique ability to train with players from across the world.

It is our pleasure to highlight four basketball players currently participating in the summer girls' program.

Polina Avdeeva (17 Years old)

1. Where are you from?

I am from Moscow, Russia. I came to IMG for four weeks last summer and liked camp. I like the coaches in camp. Coach Shell and Coach Nate bring a lot of energy to their coaching.

2.What position do you play?

I play wherever I'm needed, but since I'm tall, I primarily play Center and Forward. I prefer playing small forward, because I can handle the ball a lot more.

3.What are your goals as a basketball player?

My goal is to go as far as I can. If I can make it to college or play professionally, I want to do my best.

Polina Avdeeva, from Russia, works around a chair during the IMG Academy girls summer basketball program

4. What is your favorite professional team?

I like The Boston Celtics, because I love watching Rajon Rondo play.

5. Who is your favorite professional player?

My favorite player Alexander Mesoedova, she can make shots from anywhere on the court.

6.What was different about IMG Academy basketball program Camp that made you want to come here?

Originally, I came here because my friend recommended it. My friend came here for three years, improving each time. Eventually she started going to the full time program here, and she is playing great. Once my father saw her improvement, he said I should come to IMG Academy too.

7. What were your expectations prior to attending IMG Academy basketball program Camp? And are they being fulfilled?

My friend told me to expect to work hard, so I had an idea of what to expect.

8. What part of IMG Academy basketball program Camp has been your favorite?

I like to play in scrimmages, because I enjoy the level of completion here.

9.What is the experience like training with kids from all over the world?

Competing with kids from different parts of the world is great because you get to see how international basketball is. Some of the girls play on their national team, experience against them means I am playing with the top talent in their country.

10.What is the most important thing you learned so far about Basketball from the coaches at IMG?

Motivating teammates is the most important thing I learned so far. Coach Shell and Coach Nate are motivators, which is inspiring. The coaches inspire us to train and work harder.

Comments from Coach Shell Dailey

Coachable, athletic, well conditioned, hard worker, strong skill set, leader on the court, high game IQ, competitive and has a passion for the game

Has shown tremendous potential to be a high caliber player

Celine Bolton-Ford (14 Years old)

1. Where are you from?

I am from Pasadena, California.

2.Is this your first time at IMG Academy?

It's my first time at camp. It's been great so far.

3.What position do you play?

Shooting Guard and Small forward. I like to play shooting guard the best cause I can shoot more

4.What are your goals as a basketball player?

I want to make it as far as possible, hopefully in college. I'd like to play for Stanford if I could choose a place.

5.What is your favorite professional team?

I like the Oklahoma City Thunder; they're my favorite team. I like watching Kevin Durant.

6.Who is your favorite professional player?

Russell Westbrook is my favorite player in the league. If I could play like anyone, it would be either Lisa Leslie or Candice Parker. I like their game because they're both versatile. Candice can play inside and out.

7.What was different about IMG Academy basketball program Camp that made you want to come here?

It's the way they explained it and improvements of people that came here before. I felt it would help me more than just playing games. My dad loves basketball, he found the camp, and thought it was the best one to work on my skills.

8.What were your expectations prior to attending IMG Academy basketball program Camp? And are they being fulfilled?

I expected them to be hard on us. Also, I expected them to work us so we'll get better and help us practice shooting; we are getting that.

9.What part of IMG Academy basketball program Camp has been your favorite?

The scrimmages at the end of the day are my favorite, because you get to play with the guys and the girls. The competition level increases.

10. What is the experience like training with kids from all over the world?

It's great because most of the people from other countries are amazing. It's kind of weird also, because they speak different languages. When I play with them they speak different languages like Russian, or Spanish, and I'm thinking, “what's going on?” but in the end it ends up pretty well.

11. What is the most important thing you learned so far about Basketball from the coaches at IMG?

Its going to be intense no matter what, you just have to push through it.

Comments from Coach Shell Dailey

Young kid with great potential, good size for her age, good skills, good understanding of the game, desire to improve

Good foundation to be a great player

Caroline Clevenger (15 Years old)

1. Where are you from?

I am from Louisa, Kentucky.

2.Is this your first time at IMG Academy?

It is my first time here, and I am enjoying it. I feel like I'm getting better in every aspect of basketball. They really emphasize developing well-rounded players.

3.What position do you play?

I play Center. I like playing Center because there is a lot more action and contact than any of the other positions.

4.What are your goals as a basketball player?

I want to continue playing basketball as a center, but I do not think I'm tall enough to play center at a big school. Whether I am able to play center at a big school or not, I want to play in college.

5.What is your favorite professional team?

I do not watch a lot of professional basketball, but if I had to choose it would either be the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics. I mostly watch college basketball. I think its more interesting, especially Kentucky.

6.Who is your favorite professional player?

I do not have one, but I will follow Anthony Davis once he is drafted. I was hoping he decided to stay in school.

7.What was different about IMG Academy basketball program Camp that made you want to come here?

Its such a big and well rounded camp. I am improving skills that are not limited to the center position. Also, the coaches here push you. Unlike other camps, the coaches inspire you to be great as opposed to telling everyone a general good.

8.What were your expectations prior to attending IMG Academy basketball program Camp? And are they being fulfilled?

I expected to get good coaching here since the camp is so big. Coach Shell (Dailey) pushes me to my limits and has been very encouraging.

9.What part of IMG Academy basketball program Camp has been your favorite?

The atmosphere here is my favorite part of camp. Everyone is so encouraging and do not bring you down. If you mess up, it's ok, the coaches say try again or you'll get it next time. I noticed they use the word great, such as, saying we can be great if we try hard.

10. What is the most important thing you learned so far about Basketball from the coaches at IMG?

The most important thing I learned is to stay in my stance. Other coaches do not stress that as much. Also, you have to have a good attitude. Overall, it has been a great experience. Camp has opened my eyes to a lot of things, especially the fact that I CAN be at the top if I tried hard.

Comments from Coach Shell Dailey

Has the framework to be a strong and powerful forward, extremely high work ethic, passion for the game, committed to improving, young kid with great potential, self motivated, coachable and very engaged in practice

Has the intangibles of a great player

Leah Shelton (13 Years old)

1.Where are you from?

I am from Dalton, Georgia

2. Is this your first time at IMG Academy?

Yes, it's my first time here. So far, camp has been good. There are a lot of different types of players here.

3.What position do you play?

Guard, I like playing shooting guard the most since I do not have as much experience playing point guard.

4.What are your goals as a basketball player?

My goal right now is to develop into a Division 1 basketball player.

5.What is your favorite professional team?

Oklahoma City Thunder is my favorite team. I like the Thunder because they're a good team and because I have a friend that lives in Oklahoma.

6. Who is your favorite professional player?

I don't have a specific favorite.

7. What was different about IMG Academy basketball program Camp that made you want to come here?

My motivation was essentially, what Caroline said. Also, they practice good sportsmanship here. We are encouraged to support each other, which gives people confidence to push through.

8.What were your expectations prior to attending IMG Academy basketball program Camp? And are they being fulfilled?

I thought we would be with our age group, and do drills. I didn't think we would practice all together.

9.What part of IMG Academy basketball program Camp has been your favorite?

The ball handling drills have been my favorite, that's what I need to work on the most.

10. What is the experience like training with kids from all over the world?

It's so different from what I'm use to doing; I notice things they do and adapt that to my game. For example, I noticed one girl covers the ball whenever she goes in for a layup. I started practicing little things like that now. Its like they really know what they are doing here.

11. What is the most important thing you learned so far about Basketball from the coaches at IMG?

I haven't been playing basketball that long, its going on my second year. The biggest things I'll take from here, is the different ball handling drills and the experience playing with people from all over the world. I think that experience will make it easier to play.

Comments from Coach Shell Dailey

Work ethic is phenomenal, in great shape, good understanding of the game, passionate, coachable, solid fundamentals, active participant, takes initiative

Has the items that cannot be coached: heart, ambition and dedication

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