Thursday, May 31, 2007
Ryan ‘learns a lot’ in state skills academy
By BARRY BURLESON
An H.W. Byers Lady Lion was on the basketball court with some of the state’s best May 11-12.
“I was amazed at the tremendous talent level,” said Simone Ryan, who will be a senior next season. “I enjoyed it – it’s good to play with people better than me.”
Ryan participated in the Mississippi Girls Skills Academy. It featured 20 of the top high school basketball players in Mississippi. The event, held at Jackson Prep, was sponsored by the Mississippi Association of Coaches.
“It’s a great program,” Ryan said. “I really learned a lot of fundamentals. I could not have done it without my teammates and my coach supporting me.”
Jason Thompson, head coach of the Lady Lions, assisted at the skills academy.
“It was a grand experience and a great opportunity for me to improve my basketball mind as a coach,” he said. “I was very, very impressed and overwhelmed with everything that took place. It was an eye-opening experience for the kids and for me as a coach.”
He said the drills for the state’s top players included many new ones and were extremely tough. The skills academy also featured various exercises and classroom time with speakers on such topics as proper nutrition.
“Ninety percent of the time it was full-speed activities,” Coach Thompson said. “It was all about improving these players’ abilities and preparing them for the next level.”
He said Ryan (at 5’11”) was one of the smaller players but she did not get overwhelmed.
“She held her own and impressed the coaches and all involved,” he said. “She received high praises and compliments. She is a good kid – always giving you 110 percent.
“I’m very excited for her. I’m so glad she had the opportunity to participate among 20 of the state’s best.”
Ryan averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two and a half blocks per game for the Lady Lions last season. It was their most successful season ever. They made the state tournament for the first time in school history, defeating defending state champ Philadelphia in round one before falling to Coahoma County in the semi-finals. Byers finished 26-11.
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