Sydney Brackemyre has a lot in common with other elite basketball prospects. She plays club basketball, she spent Labor Day Weekend at the Elite Basketball Academy Fab Five camp in Suwanee, Ga., and she is one of the best players in her area.
But the junior forward from Harveysburg, Ohio, is different in a lot of ways as well.
For one, Brackemyre is well ahead of her peers in the recruiting game. While many seniors are still panicking over their decisions and trying to cut their lists to five for official visits, Brackemyre already has narrowed her college choices down to three: Dayton, Louisville and Michigan.
Not bad for a player who took her sweet time emerging as an elite player.
The versatile 6-footer who was born in the heart of Hoosier Country in Fort Wayne, Ind., hasn't always pegged basketball as her thing. Brackemyre grew up watching sports with her father, and she has an uncle who trains semipro and college basketball players, but it wasn't until a few years ago that she dedicated herself to the game.
"I've always played in little rec leagues," Brackemyre said. "But I never took it seriously until probably the seventh or eighth grade."
Brackemyre's journey on the AAU or club circuit probably is the most compelling argument that she will succeed at the college level. She started at the bottom and had to work her way up.
"I was on a C-team my first year of AAU," Brackemyre said. "So a big thing for me was [knowing] I can only go up from here. And I was on a B-Team the next year. And then I was A-Team. "
Her progression through the middle school years of club basketball, with a team called Right Fit, is a testament to putting in the work and earning each step toward elite status, something that few players are willing to do. The current trend has many players just opting for another program that will put them on the top team or offer a starting spot.
"The next year I was on the Angels and I was about third or fourth off the bench, but by the end of the year I started," Brackemyre said. "Then the next year I played up the whole year and started. I just wanted to work harder and harder."
Following a standout performance at the Elite Basketball Academy Fab Five where she showcased her size and versatility, Brackemyre should be a hot topic when ESPN HoopGurlz expands its 2014 prospect rankings to the Super 60. She showed a smooth stroke from 3-point range, the ability to put the ball on the floor and good touch around the rim. If she can commit to exploiting her mismatches inside and then using her ball skills on the perimeter consistently, she will be a key piece for one of her three finalists.
"I think Michigan, the coaches are really family-oriented," Brackemyre said, "and I think the same for Louisville and Dayton."
Local newspapers and recruiting sites have speculated in recent months that Brackemyre was going to make a late-August commitment. That, obviously, is no longer is the case, and Brackemyre said she is in no rush to make a choice.
"I want to take more visits, catch a couple of games at Michigan, a couple games at Louisville," Brackemyre said. "Dayton, obviously, we've been to a bunch of games and we can go there whenever we want."
While Brackemyre remains ahead of most of the 2014 class in the recruiting process -- she also considered offers from Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue, Vanderbilt and Xavier, to name a few -- she remains committed to working for more in her game, as evidenced by her performance at the EBA Fab Five Camp.
"It's been physical and it's been fast. I love that because you get a taste of that in AAU, but, you know, there's the teams that play AAU, they come and you beat them by 40," Brackemyre said. "So half the season is really competitive and half the season is not. So I think these types of events are awesome because they're invite only, so you know we're not picking up girls that can't play, and all these girls can play and all these girls are great. I think the pace of the game is a lot faster here."
Being patient with her game has paid dividends for Brackemyre. And now fans can't wait for her to write the next chapter when the time does come for her to commit.
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Chris Hansen is the national director of prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz and covers girls' basketball and women's college basketball prospects nationally for ESPN.com. A graduate of the University of Washington with a communications degree, he has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a high school and club coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. He is a member of the McDonald's All-American team selection committee. Hansen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.