May 17, 2009
If things work out this weekend, Alexis Rack, of the Mississippi State women''s basketball team, will be a little busier this summer than she anticipated.
The rising senior guard at Mississippi State is at the USA Basketball National Team Trials at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
East Mississippi Community College women''s basketball coach Sharon Thompson, a former women''s basketball player at MSU, also is in Colorado working as a court coach who is helping work the player in drills.
Rack and Thompson hope to learn a lot from the experience, which ends today.
"It is real competitive, and I think it is a real good experience to show me where I am playing against the top people in the country," Rack said. "This is my first invite to it, so it tells me I have really grown as a player coming from my sophomore year to my junior year."
Rack led MSU in scoring (14.9 points per game) and assists (4.3 per game), and helped guide the team into the second round of the NCAA tournament.
She also was named to the All-Southeastern Conference First Team and was the recipient of the Gillom Trophy for the top women''s college basketball player in the state of Mississippi.
Rack is competing for a spot on the 2009 World University Games team that will play in the World University Games on July 1-11 in Belgrade, Serbia. Finalists will be chosen to participate in a training camp. The 12-member team will be selected from that camp.
Rack, who is 10th all-time on MSU''s scoring list with 1,179 points, also holds the school record for career 3-point field goals made and 3-point field goal attempts. She said she shot the ball well Thursday in the first day of the camp but didn''t shoot it as well in Friday''s morning session.
Rack said she hasn''t thought about what it would mean to make the team. She said she doesn''t know what it will take for her to make the team.
"All I can do is go out and work hard," said Rack, who expects to find out today if she is a finalist.
Thompson is one of the coaches who is helping Rack work hard. The fourth-tear EMCC coach said it is a "privilege" and "an honor" to be working with USA Basketball.
"It speaks to the work and the effort that I have put in," said Thompson, who was a four-year starter (1994-98) for the Lady Bulldogs under coaches Jerry Henderson and Sharon Fanning.
USA Basketball selects a coach from the NAIA and the NJCAA levels to work as court coaches at the trials. She said her work has been fun because she is learning a lot of valuable things that she plans to bring back to Scooba and use with her players.
Thompson led EMCC to a 25-7 overall record and 11-1 MACJC North Division mark as divisional champions. The Lady Lions won the NJCAA Region 23 tournament title to advance to the NJCAA Division I Women''s Basketball Championship.
For her efforts this season, Thompson received 2008-09 NJCAA Division I/District O Women''s Basketball Coach of the Year honors and was named the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) Women''s Basketball Coach of the Year.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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