Kecoughtan's Romero hopes to fit in with Boo's travel squad

Chelsey Romero views her spot on Boo Williams' elite 16-and-under girls basketball roster as both reward and opportunity.

The 6-foot-1 forward was Kecoughtan High's best player last season, but is a complementary piece on a team that is routinely among the nation's best underclass girls travel squads.


"To be selected to play with Boo's team is an honor in itself," said Kecoughtan coach Kevin Williams, no relation to Boo. "You can't put a value on the experience. I don't even think she understands the value of the experience yet. Even if she doesn't get a lot of minutes, just being around the atmosphere of those players and practices will help her."

But Romero, who already has logged practice and playing time with her summer squad, seems to grasp the difference between her high school and travel team roles.


"If I don't play, I don't take it to heart," she said. "It's a learning experience. In high school, you have a longer leash because not everyone is as talented. But when you're on a travel team where there's a lot of talent, you're leash is cut shorter and you have to work hard to get in the game. You have to show that you can do what (Boo) needs you to do in order to get into the game."

Boo's team is one of the premier squads that will compete at his annual Nike Invitational tournament, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday. Teams will play at sites throughout the Peninsula, but the elite 16-and-under division will be based at the BooPlex off of Armistead Avenue in Hampton.

Though there are no transcendent talents in this year's tournament, such as Breanna Stewart, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis or Elizabeth Williams, there are plenty of highly-rated players.

Boo's team has several such players. Woodside's Adrienne Motley, the state Group AAA Co-Player of the Year, is rated among the top 40 juniors in the nation. Jatarie White, a 6-4 center from Charlotte, is rated the No. 3 player overall and the No. 2 center in the Class of 2014, according to HoopGurlz. Guard Mikayla Venson from northern Virginia is HoopGurlz' No. 12 prospect in the Class of '14.


Along with Boo's squad, the best teams in the tournament are familiar names: Tennessee Flight; DFW T-Jack Elite from Dallas; California Storm's Team Tarausi; North Tartan from Minnesota; Essence Purple from Tallahassee, Fla.; and a couple of the Georgia teams.

One notable absence from the tournament this weekend will be the man who originated the event and whose name is on the building. Boo will be in Minneapolis with his boys' 17-and-under team competing in the first round of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.

Boo said Thursday that he was torn between hosting his event and traveling to Minnesota but that several factors played into his decision. His nephew, Troy Williams, is a top-shelf prospect, and he wants to coach him and be around him as much as possible this summer.

"If it wasn't for Troy," Boo said, "I'd probably give the team to (Leon) Goolsby and let him coach the boys, and I'd stay here. But Troy only has one 'last' year."

Boo is comfortable leaving the girls' tournament in the hands of his staff, led by his mother, Pat, and longtime friend and associate Willie Brown, who have helped run the event for years.

"It's a good staff," Boo said. "Everybody knows what they're doing. It's not a lot of young kids running around trying to figure things out."

Boo also said that Nike boys' EYBL format, where the elite teams' records carry over from event to event as they try to reach the "playoffs" and national tournament at the end of the summer, also figured in his thinking.

"If it was just a tournament, I could blow off one tournament and feel more comfortable about it," Boo said. "But the games stick with you and your record matters."


Shawn Wright, an assistant at Maryland's Riverdale Baptist, will coach the girls' team along with several others under Boo's umbrella. Eight of 13 players on the roster are from Hampton Roads.

Romero averaged 11.7 points last season for a Kecoughtan team that went 16-9 and finished third in the Peninsula District. She said that she will look to score if opportunities present themselves for Boo's team, but figures that her role is largely to defend, rebound and hustle.

"They have a lot of scorers," Romero said.

Kevin Williams said that Romero is adept in areas that don't show up on stat sheets: she moves well; she sets screens; she has a decent handle for a player her size. He also hopes that her leadership qualities develop, competing with and against talented and driven players.

Romero said that Williams gave her some leadership duties last season, "but I wasn't that good at it. I was working on it, but now that it's my senior year, I'm going to have to be more of a leader."

Kevin Williams sees Romero's spot on Boo's roster as another step in the improvement of a program that had been a district bottom-feeder.

"A few years ago, we didn't have any girl playing any travel team ball, never mind playing for Boo," he said. "I think that shows the progress we're making."

For her part, Romero plans to watch, learn and work. Extra playing time will be a bonus.

"I don't worry about that," Romero said. "All I can do is practice hard and when I get my time to play, I play hard. I'm not worried about it. My time will come."

Girls Nike Invitational Tournament

WHEN: Friday-Sunday.

WHERE: Various locations in Hampton Roads. Elite 16-and-under teams will be based at Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton.

TICKETS: $30 adult weekend pass; $15 youth (ages 6-15) weekend pass: $20 adult daily pass: $12 youth daily pass; 5 and under free.

Players to watch


Height/position/hometown: 6-2, G-F, Norcross, Ga.

Team: AOT Lady Rebels

Skinny: Rated No. 1 prospect in Class of 2013 by Blue Star, No. 3 by HoopGurlz. Gwinnett Post Girls Player of the Year. Averaged 21.8 points, 6.2 rebounds per game for Norcross High, despite missing part of season with a fractured wrist. Comfortable inside and out. Daughter of former Major League Baseball player Delino DeShields. Teammates of fellow top-60 prospects Alexis Brown and Peyton Whitted. Team plays Friday (6:40 p.m.) at BooPlex on Court 3, Saturday (10:40 a.m.) on Court 3 and 4 p.m. on Court 4.


Height/position/hometown: 6-2, G-F, Buford, Ga.

Team: Tennessee Flight

Skinny: Rated No. 3 prospect in Class of 2013 by Blue Star, No. 2 by HoopGurlz. Daughter of former NBA player Antonio Davis. Athletic, versatile, can comfortably play everywhere from point guard to power forward. Originally committed to Tennessee, but reopened recruiting in early February. Team plays Friday (5:20 p.m.) at BooPlex on Court 1, Saturday (8 a.m. and 1:20 p.m.) on Court 2.



Height/position/hometown: 6-1, G, Owensboro, Ky.

Team: Tennessee Flight

Skinny: Rated No. 6 prospect in Class of 2013 by Blue Star, No. 5 by HoopGurlz. Missed her junior year of high school after suffering ACL tear at FIBA 3x3 Championship last September in Italy, but rehabbed all winter and last month was cleared to play. See Kaela Davis for weekend schedule.


Height/position/hometown: 6-3, F, Carson, Calif.

Team: California Storm/Team Tarausi

Skinny: Rated No. 9 prospect in Class of 2013 by Blue Star, No. 7 by HoopGurlz. Averaged a double-double at St. Anthony's. Mother, Stephanie, played college ball at Oregon. Older sister plays at UC Riverside. Quick and athletic in the post, with some perimeter skills as well. Team Tarausi also features 6-3 Oderah Chidom, 6-1 Kendall Waters and 2014 prospect Mariya Moore. Team plays Friday (8 p.m.) at BooPlex and Saturday (Noon and 5:20 p.m.) on Court 2.


Height/position/hometown: 5-11, G, Sandersville, Ga.

Team: Georgia Metros

Skinny: Rated No. 10 prospect in Class of 2013 by Blue Star, No. 8 by HoopGurlz. Named Georgia Player of the Year by Gatorade. Averaged 31.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 5.2 steals and 3.3 assists per game last season at Washington County High. Team had 63-game win streak snapped in state final. Team plays Friday (6:40 p.m.) at BooPlex on Court 2, Saturday (10:40 a.m.) on Court 2 and 4 p.m. on Court 1.


Height/position/hometown: 5-11, G-F, Miami, Fla.

Team: Essence Purple

Skinny: Rated No. 11 prospect in Class of 2013 by Blue Star and HoopGurlz. First-team All-Dade County for large-school classifications by the Miami Herald. Averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds per game at Dr. Krop HS (28-4), which lost in state 8A final to nationally-ranked Dr. Phillips. Team plays at BooPlex on Friday (5:20 p.m.) on Court 3 and Saturday (9:20 a.m., 2:40 p.m.) on Court 2.


Height/position/hometown: 6-0, G-F, Randallstown, Md.

Team: Philly Belles – Maryland

Skinny: Rated No. 4 prospect in Class of 2013 by Blue Star and No. 9 by HoopGurlz. Athletic wing who can handle and shoot. Played for USA Basketball U-16 team last summer as a sophomore. Father, Robert Tucker, played hoops at Richmond and Loyola (Md). Sister, Amirah, played at UMBC. Teammates include 2013 rated prospect A'Lexus Harrison. Team plays at BooPlex on Friday (6:40 p.m.) on Court 4 and Saturday (10:40 a.m. and 4 p.m.) on Court 3.


Height/position/hometown: 6-3, F, Pearland, Texas

Team: DFW T-Jack Elite

Skinny: Rated No. 2 prospect in Class of 2014 and No. 1 post player by HoopGurlz. She was the only sophomore to make the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches 4A all-state team. She is long and athletic, runs like a guard, challenges shots around the basket. She's on a loaded team with rated 2013 prospects Jada Terry (6-3), Diamond Lockhart (5-6) and Roshunda Johnson (5-7). Team plays at BooPlex on Friday (6:40 p.m.) and Saturday (10:40 a.m. and 4 p.m.) on Court 4.


Height/position/hometown: 5-8, G, Cincinnati, Ohio

Team: All-Ohio Black

Skinny: Rated the No. 1 prospect in Class of 2014 by HoopGurlz. First-team all-state as a sophomore. Averaged 20.7 points. 5.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.8 steals for Princeton High last season. Invited to try out for USA Basketball's U18 national team next month in Colorado Springs. Left-handed guard is smooth and quick. Teammates include rated 2013 prospect Vanessa Smith. Team plays at BooPlex on Friday (8 p.m.) on Court 1 and Saturday (Noon) on Court 1 and 5:20 p.m. on Court 2.


Height/position/hometown: 6-4, C, Charlotte, N.C.

Team: Boo Williams Summer League

Skinny: Rated No. 3 prospect overall and No. 2 center prospect in Class of 2014 by HoopGurlz. Played for Boo's team last summer as a freshman. Named all-state. She averaged 14 points and 7.8 rebounds per game to help Providence Day School win third straight state title. Demonstrating greater strength and aggressiveness around the basket and is becoming better at using her size advantage. Team plays at BooPlex on Friday (5:20 p.m.) and Saturday (9:20 a.m. and 2:40 p.m.) on Court 4.