Kenya Earl, daughter of former Hawkeye Acie Earl, already has started filling out Division I college questionnaires and has her top five favorite colleges picked out.
Of course, Kenya, 11, has time to make up her mind. She is going into sixth grade at Lemme Elementary and is in the recruiting Class of 2017.
“She’s on the radar,” Acie Earl said. “I’ve taken her to the Final Four. People that have seen her; people know me. … If you are a smart coach, resourceful, you try to jump on it as quick as you can.”
Kenya and her father have attended camps at Rutgers, Tennessee and Illinois, among others. She filled out her first college questionnaire from Gardner Webb in April.
“It’s fun,” Acie Earl said. “We’re looking forward to the entire process.
“And I’ve told her just because you are a good player in fifth grade, doesn’t mean you will be in high school. That’s the hardest part to get her to understand.”
Kenya Earl already is 5-foot-8. Her father was a 6-foot-10 shot-blocking center who earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors at Iowa and spent four seasons in the NBA.
Acie said he dived into women’s basketball with both feet when his daughter started playing three years ago. He runs Venom Sports, a training program that also sponsors several teams.
The Venom Sports Girls won the 2010 National AAU 10U fifth grade championship, going 5-0 at the Great Lakes Shootout Summer Showcase on July 11 in Menomonie, Wis.
Other team members include Madysen Hess, Tatum Koenig, Alexa Fredricks, Taylor Rayn, Ashley Joens, Brianna Smith, Abby Eckrich, Aubrey Joens, Dani Lyons, Macy Akers and Mary Wilson.
The Joens’ are the daughters of Regina coach Brian Joens and many of the other players are from the Solon school district.
Acie Earl didn’t know if Kenya would end up at City High, Regina or Solon by her freshman year.
“With the success this group is having, we want to keep them together,” Acie Earl said. “At this point, we haven’t decided. It’s what is going to work best for her.”
Acie knows it is very early to start the recruiting process, but said it has been something fun the two do together. The pair fills out NCAA Tournament brackets and then watched all the games on TV.
“TV now showcases women’s basketball,” Acie said. “Young girls can see that and have positive role models.”
Kenya’s favorite team at the moment is Tennessee with Rutgers second and Illinois third. DePaul and Stanford also are on her radar.
How young is too young? Well, a seventh-grade quarterback verbally committed to USC back in February. Both the Iowa basketball teams feature players that verbally committed as high school freshmen — Matt Gatens and Jaime Printy.
“I understand it’s more than what other parents do,” Acie said. “But our situation is a little bit different. I’ve been able to take my daughter to different camps; play at some national events.
“And with my having played Division I basketball, I understand the recruiting process a little bit more and am able to jump start that process and manipulate it.”
Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball