As we round the corner into the New Year, the Final Four looms, and with it will come WNBA combine opportunities for eligible athletes.
Although the various combines that take place during the Final Four are well-attended by WNBA coaches and general managers, they are not allowed to refer to their event as “a” or “the” WNBA combine. Despite this, the Pac-12’s Compliance Corner published a piece March 28, 2017, and referenced “The Women’s National Basketball Association ProHoops Combine,” as well as “WNBA/ProHoops Combine Expenses” in an effort to spread the news about the NCAA Division I proposal No. 2016-106, regarding the Student Assistance Fund (SAF). (http://compliance.pac-12.org/hot-topics/saf-and-wnbaprohoops-combine/)
The good thing about this story is the news that the SAF can be used to assist a student-athlete who has recently exhausted eligibility as they pursue a professional athletics tryout. Back when the WNBA actually hosted a combine, all expenses were covered by the league. The bad thing about the Pac-12 piece is the misleading reference of ProHoops as the Women’s National Basketball Association Combine. Although this particular combine is run by two former WNBA coaches, it is not a league-endorsed combine, as that no longer exists.
And then there were three
Currently there are three organizations hosting pro combines during the 2018 NCAA Final Four, with promises to provide participants with the “best” opportunity to either prepare for the WNBA Draft, or to showcase their talents in front of WNBA staff, International teams and agents for consideration in training camp invitations and overseas play. Formerly there were four organizations, but apparently the Overseas Basketball Combine (http://overseasbasketballcombine.com/myrtle-beach/) has moved their event to July, 2018.
2018 Final Four combines, explained
Merit Pro Combine will host their 21st annual Women’s Pro Combine and Free Agent Camp on Sunday, April 1 at the Columbus Africentric Early College. They have discounted hotel rooms for participants at the Columbus Airport Marriott. This is one of the combines I have personally attended, and I have always been impressed with the professionalism of their staff, their choice of facilities and their hospitality room. Most of the WNBA coaches tell me they skip or eat a light breakfast because they know there will be plenty of good food for them and the players here. What really separates this combine from the others is the complimentary informational dinner they host the day before the event. Players are treated to a meal while listening to the likes of LaChina Robinson, Pokey Chatman, Michael Cooper, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Rushia Brown, Helen Darling, Shyra Ely-Gash, Janell Burse, Alicia Thompson, Chantelle Anderson, Ashley Robinson, Sheri Sam and Michael G. Horsey, CPA, who have all spoken in the past about what it takes to play professionally. (https://vimeo.com/244375263)
ProHoops Combine’s event will be Saturday, March 31 at Hilliard Bradley High School near Columbus, Ohio. Their host hotel is to be determined. This combine, on year eight, is run by Linda Hargrove, Jessie Kenlaw and Crystal Robinson. Hargrove spent 11 years as a head coach, general manager and/or consultant in the WNBA. Kenlaw was an assistant coach in the WNBA for nine years, and served as an interim head coach for half a season. Robinson had a long professional ABL and WNBA career, where she was an All-Star and the best three-point shooter in the league. They have an event the day before their combine in which participants can be involved with a panel of former players and current WNBA players. They do provide boxed lunches for participants and coaches. (http://prohoops.webs.com/about.htm)
Insider Exposure will host their fourth annual combine Friday, March 30. The location, as well as the host hotel, is to be determined. AAU master John McGraw runs this camp. Registered participants received a letter requesting them to bring their own basketball to the combine, as well as a valid ID, which will be held but returned to them at the conclusion of the event, as long as their jersey is returned. There’s been no mention of food or drinks being provided for participants or coaches.
So what does it cost to showcase ones talent?
Insider Exposure – $100.00 USD before March 30, 2018
$200.00 USD after March 30, 2018
Merit Pro Combine – $190.00 USD before February 15, 2018
$200.00 USD after February 15, 2018
ProHoops Combine – $225.00 USD before March 9, 2018
$250.00 USD after March 9, 2018
Hopefully, college coaches and players take adequate time to research the combines and make the right choice this spring.