Kentucky Premier has produced some fine talent over the years, and the program continues to groom some of the best athletes the college basketball world has seen. Erin Toller, Kristen Clemons and Destinee Marshall are three individuals who have put the time and effort into their practice and are about to at last start seeing the payoff.
â€œThose three girls do extra,â€ says Kentucky Premier Coach Dajuan Bibb of the girlsâ€™ work ethic. â€œThey are consistently working out and doing their own training. Anything team-related, they are involved. So sky is the limit for these three girls. They get it, know how much work is required and are doing it.â€
All three girls are in the Class of 2020, but they arenâ€™t waiting until then to consider their college destinations.
Erin Toller, who has received interest from Western Kentucky and the University of Kentucky, appreciates these schoolsâ€™ recognition but is eager to grow more as a player.
â€œIt means a lot, but that is just two schools,â€ she reasons. â€œI am still growing and still getting older. So I have more colleges looking at me for the future.â€
She believes Kentucky Premier has enhanced her game, considering the tougher competition they face outside the state of Kentucky. â€œIt has been good,â€ Toller says about her experience at Kentucky Premier. â€œI played with them in seventh grade. We get to go out of town more and play better competition than what we play in Kentucky.â€
Toller has great energy in the game and takes teammate accountability seriously. In her skill set, she says the program has helped her in dribbling and shooting.
Meanwhile, the University of Louisville, Texas Tech, Purdue and UCLA have all expressed interest in and given attention to Kristen Clemons. She appreciates the chance to play before college coaches during the summertime and in fact has also received interest from UCLA in volleyball.
â€œIâ€™ve always loved both sports,â€ she emphasizes. â€œSometimes I am leaning toward one, and sometimes I am leaning toward the other. But right now, I am still split.â€
In basketball, the three girls have looked up to Grace Berger at Sacred Heart Academy, who led the team last year in scoring. They all will be attending as freshman next season, and Clemons already considers her a mentor.
â€œI played with her in a bunch of games and practices, and I have gotten to know her really well. I admire her leadership and how she is a very humble player. She also leads the team really well.â€
As a point guard, Marshall has been proving her critics wrong ever since she was in elementary school. After all, the proof is in the acclaim. â€œI am getting all these letters, and now I tell myself I can do it and I am going to make it.â€
Western Kentucky, Texas Tech and UK are on her radar, so she intentionally takes her point guard duties seriously at Kentucky Premier.
â€œIf youâ€™re a point guard or any position, you have to be a team player. It is not just about you. You have to get your teammates involved. If one is down, you have to pick them up and tell them, â€˜Youâ€™re doing good.â€™ Points are not all that matters. You can help in assists, rebounds and steals. You donâ€™t have to always score; you just have to be a factor.â€
She seeks to be a factor next season for the Valkyries. She said Coach Moir of Sacred Heart reminds her of Coach Geno Auriemma, head coach at Connecticut.
â€œShe is preparing me for college, so basically she is not going to tell me anything wrong. Itâ€™s good to have a good coach like her because everything she says is positive. Everything she says I have to take as great advice because it will help me excel.â€
Coach Bibb adds that these three players play an integral part in Kentucky Premier continuing to grow as a program.
â€œThey really bring the exposure to the Louisville area,â€ Bibb asserts. â€œUnderclassmen who are younger than them in Louisville get to see the work that is required to be on one of the top Kentucky Premier teams and the work that is required just to get to this level. Those three are great representatives for Louisville, and I am looking forward to them blossoming at every level throughout their career with Kentucky Premier.â€
Photo by RANDYÂ WHETSTONE JR.