Pro camp set for Final Four Sunday

Merit Management Group’s free agent camp for prospective WNBA players is set for Sunday, April 6 in Nashville, the site of this year’s Final Four. The camp is as old as the WNBA itself – 18 years – and has helped get 43 athletes signed or drafted by teams.

The camp runs the morning of the semifinals of the National Championship, at a gym in the host city. Through a series of games, attending WNBA coaches are able to see prospects in a variety of game situations that allow them to decide if they want to invite them to training camp. With team rosters expanding back to 12 players this season, the chances that a camp prospect will find a team home is greater.

Camp games are filmed and put on the Merit Management website so overseas teams can have access. President Stephanie Stanley said several players have been able to sign with a team because of this.

“It’s been rewarding to see athletes go on to successful careers after they’ve participated in one of our camps,” Stanley said.

A group of current and former WNBA players help Stanley run the camp, where they also answer athlete questions.

“I help out every year, which is both fun and personally satisfying,” said former Indiana forward Shyra Ely.

The camp fee is $175 for college seniors and $190 for free agents. This includes a free airport shuttle to the host hotel. This camp was profiled at the 2012 Final Four in Denver.

A few years ago, another camp sprouted as competition to Stanley’s camp. It is run by two former pro coaches, and participants have confused it with the Merit camp. There is a second competitor camp, and this one runs both Saturday, April 5, and Sunday. A fourth camp has now arisen on April 6, in Dallas, Texas.

Stanley said her camp is the least expensive of the four, and gets more exposure.

“We are very well-attended by WNBA coaches, and well-networked with overseas coaches as well,” Stanley said. “Our main goal is to place athletes on teams – not to turn a profit.”

Athletes can register for the camp here.