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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : sports : local September 30, 2016

9/17/2013 2:48:00 PM
Opportunity returns for high school basketball players with Northern Arizona Exposure Showcase
The Northern Arizona Exposure Showcase gives student-athletes a chance to be recognized, and possibly recruited, by scouts from colleges. VVN/Travis Guy
The Northern Arizona Exposure Showcase gives student-athletes a chance to be recognized, and possibly recruited, by scouts from colleges. VVN/Travis Guy
Event organizers Mark Owens and Chad Groth put the Northern Arizona Exposure Showcase on twice a year.VVN/Travis Guy
Event organizers Mark Owens and Chad Groth put the Northern Arizona Exposure Showcase on twice a year.VVN/Travis Guy

Travis Guy
Sports Reporter

Area Codes Basketball returned to Mingus Union High School for the fourth time for the Northern Arizona Exposure Showcase.

The showcase is a way for basketball prospects from Northern Arizona, the Verde Valley and south to show recruiters and scouts their skills and, hopefully, make a college interested in recruiting them.

"What we try to do here, Northern Arizona is very under-represented as far as getting national, and even regional, exposure for college coaches, and its tough for them to come out here," said Mingus Union boys basketball head coach Mark Owens. "So, what we try to do is give kids in the area, and all throughout Northern Arizona, an opportunity to play in front of a national, arguably the top national recruiting service and scouts, and definitely the top in the Southwest and Arizona evaluator of talent. And with that we're able to, kind of, project onto the college coaches the talent that we have here in Northern Arizona. Because we often go, we're very under-represented, but we have tons of talent."

One of the advantages to the Northern Arizona Exposure Showcase is that not only does the information that is gathered go to Division-I schools, but all levels of college basketball, from D-I to NAIA school. This gives players more of an opportunity to get recognized and earn a scholarship.

"Every kid is probably striving to play Division-I, but the thing that's unique about this type of exposure camp, is the access that Area Codes Basketball has and their relationships with Division-I, Division-II, Division-III, junior colleges and NAIA (schools)," Owens said. "Between my personal contacts and Area Codes recruiting services, we're able to hit colleges all throughout the country at various levels. I think that if any level of college is your goal, events like this can definitely help."

Owens, in addition to his coaching duties at Mingus Union, also is in charge of Northern Arizona Basketball Academy (NABA) and organized the showcase with Area Codes Basketball's Chad Groth. Owens goal with the showcase and NABA is to give athletes the opportunity to get a scholarship for college. HE knows that recruiting can be a little difficult in rural areas. With the distance between schools making it that much harder for scouts to see players. This can lead to talented players being overlooked, so Owens and Groth use the Northern Arizona Exposure Showcase as a way to compile all of the information and send it to scouts and recruiters.

"It's just being in a rural area (makes recruiting hard), anywhere in the country, it is difficult," Owens said. "There's good talent, but each town is an hour, two hours, three hours away, and its tough for college coaches and recruiters, scouting services, to hit every single high school. But, I think what we have here in Cottonwood is a central location where you can get a wide range of talented boys and girls to all come out. And, we have amazing facilities, Cottonwood's a great place and people definitely do enjoy coming here and spending their Saturday afternoons playing some basketball while getting some exposure as well."

And while the participants are out on the court attempting to impress, they are also building relationships with players form other school. Owens said the events have a "family feel" to them, and strengthen basketball in Arizona.

"The kids are just trying to get ready to have a great high school basketball season, and the one thing that's really awesome about it is just the basketball community, and the family feel of events like that," Owens said. "Talented kids who love basketball like being around each other. A lot of the parents remark about the relationships that their son or daughter has developed with other kids at other high schools, especially for the ones that have been here two, three, four times, so they get to see each other twice a year and you see the kids making new friends, families getting to know each other, and I think that's the coolest part. Just to bring kids together, bring people together and it's just an exciting time."

With the infusion of people coming into Cottonwood for the day, the showcase not only offers student-athletes the opportunity to build a future in their sport, but also gives Cottonwood's economy a boost for the day.

"Another great thing about hosting an event of this magnitude is the influx of people in our community," Owens said. "With 80-plus players and their families, they end up filling up a tank of gas, grabbing a bite to eat and checking out the tourist spots in the Verde Valley. Anytime you can bring people into our community, it's great for our local economy."

Local schools Mingus Union and Camp Verde were represented at the showcase, and a few players from the teams did not disappoint. Two girls from Camp Verde's team, Mariah Daniels and Magy Lopez, and four from Mingus Union, Angelnya and Destiny Razo, Angelica Sarilla and Kylie Streck were all named outstanding prospects for the day. On the boys side, Evan Snyder, Logan Conella and Ashton Loring all finished the day as top prospects.

"I've already gotten like 10 text messages from coaches right now, asking how the event went," Owens said. "This will be up on the Area Codes web site, it gets tweeted, its on instagram, so coaches look forward to these events, to try to find that hidden gem, that hidden diamond in the rough, under-recruited kid, and you can usually find those here. And, we've definitely had, we've had some people come through, who weren't on the radar, and showed well at this event and their recruiting has just taken off. And that's really cool to see, when a kid has an opportunity to play at the next level."

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