Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Oh, Marynell

The best finder in talent in pro-basketball is Marynell Meadors. I believe she should be a scout in the NBA if not General Manager. Currently, she is the GM/coach of the WNBA, Atlanta Dream. When rumors circulated that Dream franchise may fold, I requested to the Atlanta Hawks that they hire her as a scout. She has that innate ability to find players who others don't think are professional materials as well star caliber players. With these players, she develops team chemistry through hard work and sportsmanship.

Growing up in Nashville, Tennessee in the 50's, women sports in high schools existed only as P.E. classes. Yet, in the 7th grade while playing in the backyard with her older brother and her male cousins, she decided that coaching was going to be her profession. Her biggest role models were elementary school teachers, a junior high principal, and a female basketball coach who put emphasis on hard work and fairness. She got her Bachelors and Masters in Physical Education and Physiology of Exercise from Middle Tennessee State University. Besides basketball, she played softball, tennis, and volleyball at MTSU. Her first job was at Tennessee Tech where she coached tennis, softball, and basketball for a budget of 100 dollars per sport.

Eventually, she stayed with basketball and won over 300 games with Tennessee Tech before moving on to Florida State for a few years. In the WNBA expansion year of 1997, Marynell was named GM and coach with the Charlotte Sting. She took Charlotte to two playoff appearances before being fired in the middle of her third season. Staying in the WNBA, she became a scouting director for the Miami Sol in 2000 until the team folded in 2002. She went back to college as an assistant coach for Pitt Panthers under Agnus Berenato before returning to the WNBA as an assistant to the Washington Mystics in 2005. She served for 3 years with the Mystics before being named GM and coach again to the new WNBA expansion team, Atlanta Dream in 2007.

I like her persistent stubbornness of finding players through unconventional methods. She doesn't rely on hype or players coming to her. Instead, she sells her team to potential prospects. For instance, she convinced Shamique Holdsclaw to come out of retirement after about two years. She drafted Tamera Young from James Madison instead of players from bigger programs like Connecticut, Tennessee, and Stanford. As a scouting director for the Miami Sol, she signed the youngest WNBA rookie in Brazilian, Iziane Castro Marques from Florida International as a free agent. Finally, as a college scout for Pittsburgh, she discovered Shavonte Zellous of Jones High in Orlando, Florida. Shavonte was a track star at Jones High but very raw when it came to basketball. However, Marynell noticed her potential that she could create her own shot without an offensive set play.

Lot of scouts and GM's tend to get individual players but not try to build a team. In Marynell case, she gets players and builds teams. She likes players who believe in hard work andfair play. When she was Charlotte, she built a solid nucleus of players such as Vicky Bullett, Andrea Stinson, Dawn Staley, and Rhonda Mapp who had those characteristics. As a scouting directing for the Sol, she built a solid nucleus of Ruth Riley, Sheri Sam, Yelena Baranova, and Sandy Brondello. When they folded, these players continued to play at a high level with the same characteristics. Now in Atlanta, she has those type of players in Erika DeSouza, Shalee Lehning, Sancho Little, Michelle Snow, and Angel McCoughtry with success and continuity.

If Marynell isn't able to continue her work as a WNBA coach, I would like to see an NBA team give her a job as a scout director. Maybe, the Memphis Grizzlies or the Charlotte Bobcats? She is able to find players who others don't think highly and is able to attract star players. What stands out with Marynell as a scout, she goes to the players instead of the players coming to her. With these ingredients, she builds team chemistry through hard work and sportsmanship. I nominate Marynell Meadors as the best finder of talent in professional basketball.

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