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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Memorable trip to UConn for the McDaniels

If UConn recruiting target Xylina McDaniel was half as impressed at the scene inside Gampel Pavilion over the weekend as her father and former NBA star Xavier McDaniel, perhaps the Huskies will get a commitment from its first recruit from South Carolina since Kalana Greene.
"Walking in the arena and looking at all the Big East championships, 10 national titles, that is a lot right there," Xavier McDaniel said on Tuesday night. "It's a nice arena - not too big, not too small. I think it fits perfectly for girls' basketball, about 10,000 people and they had a packed house. I felt like it was great trip for us.

"Coach Geno (Auriemma) is a great coach. His seven (national) titles show that, watching their practice and how they go, how they get after it and expect for their players to be the best at what they do."

Xylina is down to UConn, North Carolina and South Carolina and her father believes she can't go wrong whichever way she goes.

"As far as X, it is a matter of what she wants to do," McDaniel said. "Let's be honest. If she comes to South Carolina and turns it around, she will be treated like a queen for the rest of her life. If you go to UConn, you can be a part of what Coach Geno has built for (25) years which won't be bad whichever way you go. If she goes to North Carolina, she can do all the things that Michael Jordan to Marion Jones (both members of UNC national championship teams) and all the great athletes they have had.  As I told her, the sky is limit. I think it is up to her. I told her you can't be afraid if a Breanna Stewart or a Morgan Tuck or Moriah Jefferson are coming (to UConn), you just have to go play. I played with Aubrey Sherrod, Greg Dreiling (at Wichita State)and I have my name on the rafters too. It is a matter of you focusing and I always say don't focus on yourself, focus on the team, the rest will take care of itself."
McDaniel, who averaged 15.6 points and 6.1 rebounds in his 14-year NBA career, is planning to let Xylina make the decision for herself.
"I'd like to get this process over with but it isn't me who is going to play college ball, it is her," McDaniel said. "It definitely has to be her making that college decision, I am happy with it. I think no matter what school you go to, you will get a very good education. I just think it comes down to winning and losing, if it was me. You have look at it that if you go to South Carolina, there are going to be some ups and downs. If you are Connecticut, you have all the (winning) programs, North Carolina is right behind teams like Connecticut, Tennessee and Stanford. Duke and North Carolina are right there. As far as Connecticut, Tennessee and Stanford and then maybe it is Duke and North Carolina - maybe in that order. I am not talking about what Texas A&M did last year, I am talking about what year in and year out, those are the teams you are going to see in the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four just about every year.
"I think they work hard for (South Carolina coach) Dawn Staley too, Dawn Staley is a great motivator that gets after it. I am not one of these people who say you can't do this or you can't do that. Whatever it takes to get that girl going or get that boy going, I am down with it because I have played for some tough coaches over my time. I tell people all the time, if kids can't be pushed than they aren't going to amount to anything. I have seen (North Carolina) Coach (Sylvia) Hatchell at it also."

McDaniel, who also coaches Xylina with the South Carolina 76ers AAU program, first noticed his daughter's potential to be a major college player shortly after she became a teenager. He believes that Xylina can be a dominant defender and rebounder at the next level.

"At 13 and being 6-foot and now being 6-2 and being a dominant rebounder for us has been a plus and she's been a scorer as well," McDaniel said. "I think she can make an impact on defender and as a rebounder (in college). When she was young, I stressed defense a lot. I used to make her guard point guards, 2 guards and not just big people. A big girl who would try to go 1 on 1 and said damn this girl is pretty quick and then they go into the post. She has the defensive capabilities of playing five positions in college. I think she is a forward, I am not going to say she is a small forward and I'm not going to say she is a power forward. She is a forward but I think she is a forward. You can ask the UConn players who played against her. She was rebounding and blocking shots and doing a lot of the things that I taught her. I thought she did a very good job in that scrimmage with the girls."
Anne Long, Xylina's high school coach at Spring Valley High in Columbia, S.C., said that Xylina was planning to take another visit to North Carolina with her mom but Xavier said that was not the case. He also didn't have a time frame for Xylina to make a decision.

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