The competition was going to be taller, faster and more physical.
So, sure, there were pre-summer nerves for Mya Babbitt, Jenna Hopp and Cora Olsen, three basketball players who spent the season playing up two levels on the club circuit.
"I was real nervous," Olsen said of the first summer tournament. "I really didn't know what to expect, but I knew the competition was going to be good, so us three really worked hard in practice."
Nervous energy has been replaced with growing confidence.
Babbit, Hopp and Olsen — all three play for All Nebraska Attack — have yet to start their freshmen years. High school opponents will get a good look at them starting in December. Division I coaches have already taken notice.
Olsen, a 5-foot-8 guard who will attend Millard South, recently received an offer from Eastern Illinois. Hopp, a 5-10 guard from Glenwood, Iowa, has offers from Eastern Illinois and Wichita State. And Babbitt, a 5-8 point guard who will attend Millard South, is receiving D-I attention. More offers are likely to follow.
All three just finished the eighth grade. Their club coach, Bryce Meyers, said the trio was "noticeably at another level," so the girls were moved up two age groups. They played in the 10th-grade division (16U) this summer, and Meyers said they held their own.
"They don't really question themselves," said Meyers, who also coaches at Millard South. "When they catch the ball, they're open to shoot it, if they think they can get to the rim, they just go. They're not looking around. You can kind of just tell that they feel comfortable out there."
Meyers said Babbit, Hopp and Olsen are doing a good job paying attention to details on the basketball floor. Playing against girls their own age, they could rely heavily on their athleticism and skill set to drive to the basket or get steals. But against older girls, they have to learn how to play smarter.
"Just being able to play against these older and faster girls gives you confidence for high school," Hopp said.
Added Babbit, "I know that I can keep up with these girls now and I don't second-guess myself."
There have been opportunities for all three to prep playing against older girls. They played in tournament games against eighth-grade boys in the winter, and in the summer they practice against All Nebraska Attack's top girls team. That means guarding the likes of Maddie Krull (Millard South), a top-100 recruit, and McKenna Minter (Lincoln Northeast), another D-I prospect.
"A lot of the older kids, they spend a lot of time (with them)," Meyers said. "Maddie Krull really takes them under her wing. I think when they go against her and those kind of kids and seeing the success she has, they know they can potentially do some of those things, too. I think they're just excited about the opportunity to do it."
All Nebraska Attack's 16U team finished in 10th place at the Under Armour Nationals last week in Atlanta.
Avila-Ambrosi commits to Cal Baptist
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Millard North senior Nicole Avila-Ambrosi announced her commitment to California Baptist last week.
The Lancers, who have transitioned to Division I, are coached by Jarrod Olson. Olson's father is former girls basketball coach Rich Olson, and his brother Drew coaches the Concordia women.
Avila-Ambrosi averaged 13.4 points in helping lead the Mustangs to their first Class A state championship.
Bovaird to Central Missouri
Lincoln East senior Charley Bovaird announced her commitment to Division II Central Missouri.
Central Missouri won the NCAA Division II national championship in 2018.
Bovaird, a 5-11 guard/forward, was the Spartans' leading scorer last season, averaging 13.9 points per game while shooting 41% from three-point range.
Bovaird, who plays for the Cornhusker Shooting Stars, is currently sidelined by an ACL injury.
Summer quick hits
* The Nebraska Lasers' 17U team finished runner-up in bracket play at the Battle of the Best tournament in Ames, Iowa, last week.
* All Nebraska Attack's 17U finished in fifth place out of 36 teams at the Girls Under Armour championship in Atlanta.
* Crete's Morgan Maly (Nebraska Lasers) was selected to the USJN Premier Showcase team following a mid-July tournament in Indianapolis.
* Lincoln Pius X's Alexis Markowski and Norris' Brianna Stai, both with the Lasers' 2021 team, were selected to the USJN Premier Showcase team in Indianapolis, as well.
* The Cornhusker Shooting Star's Bison team finished runner-up at the Adidas Girls Summer Finale in Indianapolis, and second in the gold bracket in Atlanta last week.