Best High School Basketball Players

For the country’s best high school basketball players, a good showing at Nike Camp can lead to a college scholarship, even a career in the WNBA. But as recruiting heats up for the next star, it’s the coaches who are doing most of the sweating.

Nike’s annual all-star camp

It’s dead summer, and every major women’s college basketball coach in the country is sitting on shaky aluminum bleachers in an Indianapolis gym, blinking under fluorescent lights and wondering what happened to their profession. The 80 best high school players in the United States, aged 14 to 18, are stampeding up and down the court to a continuous shrieking of whistles, while the coaches watch with the gimlet eyes of auction bidders.

This is Nike’s annual all-star camp, an invitation-only event held every July, and it is the tryout of a lifetime. A big performance at Nike Camp can launch a girl’s career, earn her a scholarship to play for a big-time program, and from there perhaps pave the way for a WNBA career.

The large gym on the Indiana University campus has been transformed into a modern-day Baghdad flesh bazaar, except that the girls are wearing jerseys and high-tops. Nike Camp is one of the most important events of the year in women’s high school and college basketball, both for the players and for the coaches who are recruiting them. But Nike Camp is also a window on the state of the sport: It is a story about supply and demand–lots of demand–for the best young athletes in the country. The college that wins the most blue-chip talent may propel itself to a national championship and reap the accompanying riches. For coaches, a winning program can mean job security and national prominence, which lead to lucrative side deals in summer camps and team sneaker contracts.

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How to See The Olympics

How to see the Olympics or add oomph to your serve–she’ll answer anything

What’s better: three sets in a row for each muscle group or three trips around the weight room?

J.C., Medford, MA

Well, others may prefer that you don’t hog a machine, but doing three consecutive sets is better for you. “It takes about two minutes for the muscle to recover completely,” says Wayne Westcott, fitness research director of the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts. So doing three sets with only about 90 seconds rest in between makes muscles work harder. Even better, do three different moves for the same muscle group, like a set of triceps dips, followed by a set of triceps kickbacks and a set of triceps extensions. “Mixing it up helps build more comprehensive strength,” Westcott says, “because you’re involving more muscle fibers.”

I want to increase the power of my tennis serve. Any advice?

P.M., Lexington, KY

Try channeling Venus Williams, who holds the Guinness world record for her 127-mph power serve. Not psychic? Build Venus-like strength. “The power of your serve comes from the legs and the trunk rotation,” says Tim Howell, director of tennis at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, California. His favorite move: racquet crunches. Hold your racquet with both hands in front of you as you sit up and twist your torso first to one side and then the other. For the legs, walking lunges (try coveting the whole length of the court) will build the strength you need to create momentum for your serve.

What’s the cheapest way to go to the Olympics?

K.P., Chester, NJ

Unless you can stuff yourself into Jenny Thompson’s gym bag, there really is no cheap way to go to the Games in Sydney. Cartan Tours (www.cartan.com) will plan the whole thing for you (airfare, hotels, tickets) with week-long packages that start around $5,000. (more…)