Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sherburne Receives Offer From D-I Niagara

2012 has been quite a year for Bishop Guertin's Jamie Sherburne. First she led the Cardinals to the Division I championship, their first ever state title in girls basketball. Then she was named to the D-I all-state team. Then came AAU season, when she made the all-tournament team at USJN Nationals in Washington DC while playing for the Rivals Basketball Club.

The latest accomplishment for this 5-foot-6 point guard is the most impressive one, as Sherburne (Hudson, NH) has been offered a scholarship by Niagara University.

"Niagara saw me play AAU this summer with the Rivals" explained Sherburne, who is one of the area's top recruits for the Class of 2014. "I also attended a basketball camp at Niagara, toured the campus and met with head coach Faustin and Coach Jones. I was so impressed with the program and the school. I felt really comfortable with the coaches and am beyond excited about the scholarship offer. I was just speechless when they made the offer and I still really can't believe it."

Niagara is a Division I program that competes in the highly competitive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). The Purple Eagles went 9-9 in the league last season, taking top seed Marist to overtime twice. Sherburne is only a junior, so this is still early in her recruitment and more offers are sure to follow this one.

"This summer Jamie had a chance to participate in the All Star Girls Report individual showcase in Georgia where some of the top talent in the US was in attendance" said Scott Hazelton, who is both Sherburne's high school and AAU coach. "She had a great camp and that really gave her the confidence to go out there and play well for the remainder of the summer. She caught the eye of Niagara at the Run for Roses tournament in Kentucky while playing against Tennessee Flight. From there they followed her at USJN in DC where once again she played well. This past weekend Jamie took an unofficial visit to Niagara where she participated in their prospect camp. Jamie had a great camp and they offered her immediately after."

2012 was only the third AAU season for the Rivals, but they have already sent a number of players to Division I programs. Former Rivals Madeleine Blais (Exeter, NH) and Lizzy Ball enter their freshman seasons at Marist and Fairfield, respectively. Meanwhile Alex Cohen (Nashua, NH) from the Class of 2013 has committed to Manhattan. All three schools are in the MAAC along with Niagara.

"I am looking forward to going to watch Niagara play this season" said Sherburne. "They play in the MAAC conference against teams like Marist and Fairfield where other Rivals players have committed. It would be amazing to watch former Rivals players and teammates competing at that level and a dream come true to be playing as well."

Sherburne was able to get a ton of exposure by playing with a Rivals team that was one of the the top 15U squads in New England. She also played up on their 16U elite team at some tournaments.

"I am really fortunate to play in a top AAU program like the Rivals" Sherburne beamed. "It has given me the opportunity to play with some very talented players and compete against top teams in the country. Our team played very well in the Run for the Roses tournament in Kentucky and USJN in DC. We went to the finals in Kentucky and played in one of the top pools in DC. A lot of college coaches were watching because our team was doing so well. I know Niagara saw me play in both KY and DC."

The tournaments might have been where Sherburne has gotten exposure to college coaches, but practice is where she has been able to take her game to the next level.

"Rivals practices focus on the fundamentals of the game and working hard all the time" said Sherburne. "We have tough practices. There are so many great players in the program, they really push me to get better. When you are practicing and competing every day with that kind of group, you can only improve."

After her breakout sophomore season last winter with BG it is hard to imagine Sherburne could get much better. But she has been hard at work this summer, and has improved all aspects of her game. That is a scary thought for opposing D-I teams in NH.

"Jamie had an exceptional AAU season" said Coach Hazelton. "She has improved immensely! She really took a huge step forward in her development to becoming a more efficient point guard. Jamie also made a huge step in her individual skill set. Her ball handling, passing, and jump shot have really improved."

Sherburne is a gym rat, no question about it. If you want to play Division I college basketball you have to work hard, and she has done just that.

"I have definitely tried to improve on my jump shot and have spent some time in the gym with the shooting machine" said Sherburne. "Playing with the older Rivals team as the point guard has helped me build my confidence. I have been going to small workouts with the Rivals coaching staff where we work on everything from ball handling and shooting to foot work and conditioning. Outside practice and these small workouts I go to the Y as often as possible to play pick up. I think pick-up is one of the best ways to become a better basketball player."

Sherburne is the second NH player from the Class of 2014 to be offered a D-I scholarship, as Londonderry High's Aliza Simpson received offers from New Hampshire and Holy Cross this summer. Sherburne and Simpson are both point guards and have been playing against each other all growing up, with Sherburne being from Hudson and Simpson from Londonderry (the towns are right next to each other). And in March both of them led their high school teams to the state championship game, with Sherburne's BG team coming out on top.

It is not often a point guard from NH goes on to play D-I college basketball (Katherine Harris at Bucknell and Tiffany Ruffin at BC are the only ones in the last few years). So the fact that you not only have 2 of them from the same class but from the town right next to each other is very significant.

"I think Jamie and Aliza definitely feed off one another" said Hazelton. "Both are top players in our state! Both Aliza and Jamie are great competitors and it's certainly fun to watch them compete against each other. Both play the game the way it should be played - they play hard, unselfishly and fast. It's going to be fun watching them grow as players over the next two seasons. They are great representatives of New Hampshire basketball."

Now that she has her first D-I offer Sherburne will look to take that momentum into this winter's high school season, as she and her Bishop Guertin teammates look to defend their title. They will definitely be the favorites, as they not only have Sherburne but also 6-foot-1 senior forward Meghan Green, who recently committed to Boston University (also played for the Rivals).

"I'm really excited for Jamie" Coach Hazelton concluded. "It's been a great year for her. She lead our high school team to a state championship and in AAU she played a part in many wins. She's definitely proven herself as a top talent in NH. This is only the beginning for her. She's got a chance to do some real special things! Her work ethic is second to none, and her willingness to get better is none like I've seen. I anticipate more offers coming her way as she progresses through high school."

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