By Jerry Del Priore
On the heels of a busy, successful summer, in which the ML Gators girls’ basketball teams participated in 18 hoop events all over the New York Metro area, the program enjoyed a productive fall campaign, and helped hoopsters reach new heights.
The ML Gators, a 501(c) non-profit organization headed by coach Michael Lloyd, gives New York City female basketball players, ages eight to 17, an opportunity to hone their hardwood skills while increasing college exposure.
“It could be tough, it could be challenging,” Lloyd, who’s also the head coach at Lab Museum United in Chelsea, Manhattan, said of adhering to a hectic summer hoops schedule. “But that’s one of the reasons for creating the program, to give girls college exposure, which, I think, we did a good job of doing.”
Winning is not always the main goal for the ML Gators, with the ML for Mike Lloyd, especially at team camp events.
“At team camps, they (college recruiters) pretty much want the girls to play,” Lloyd explained. “When you go to team camps, the goal is not to win the game. The goal is to get out there and have your girls get seen. You want to have as many girls get recruited as possible.”
After the ML Gators’ high school fall season concluded, three notable players picked up a good measure of college interest.
Among them are Kayla Bridgeman/Lab Museum (‘19—Columbia, LIU, Wagner and New Rochelle), Kiya Marquez/Lab Museum (‘20—Wagner, Queens, Hunter, Liberty, Buffalo, NYIT, SUNY Canton and Buffalo St.) and Dasha Goodman/Lab Museum (’19—SUNY New Paltz, Buffalo St., Canton and Clarkson, Five Towns, American International and CUNY Hunter College).
Lloyd believes the extra playing time gave his girls a leg up in the college recruiting process.
The PSAL girls’ basketball season has teams playing around 18 league games, and six non-league tilts, plus the playoffs for teams that qualify. Sometimes, Lloyd said, it’s not enough for the players to get the proper exposure. That’s where a program like the ML Gators come in.
The ML Gators, Lloyd said, encompasses four major components.
First, its AAU basketball program, in which it plays top competition from all over, helping players elevate their games.
Secondly, its tournament hosting, in which it services around 75 high schools and junior high schools through the year.
Thirdly, ML Gators camps and clinics (Gator Sports Academy) that work on fine-tuning the girls’ hardwood abilities.
Lastly, college recruiting services, helping the girls land spots that otherwise might fall by the wayside.
To help develop his players further, Lloyd purposely places his girls in unfamiliar situations in some instances in order to give them a new experience while adding a different dimension to their games.
“We may have an event where we have certain girls who are normally role players, we may put them all together,” Lloyd explained. “Now, they’re not a role player. They have to have to be a starter, and learn that aspect of the game. So, they’re not pigeon held to one particular role. So, when they do go back to their school (team), their game is more diverse.”
The ML Gators high school division ended last week, and are kicking off its junior high group this weekend.
The PSAL girls’ season begins in late November/early December. Check PSAL.org for more info.