Oregon quickly falls for Liberty's Delgado

Amanda Delgado entered this summer without any Division I scholarship offers.

That quickly changed after an AAU tournament this month in Oregon.

Delgado, a 5-foot-7-inch guard who will be a senior in the fall, orally committed to Oregon last week, a courtship that began when the Ducks watched her knock down shot after shot in a game for Vegas Elite White at the End of the Trail tournament.

"They watched the next couple of games and they caught interest and were like, 'OK, we want her,' " said Delgado, who as a junior led the Patriots to the Sunrise Region championship and earned second-team all-state honors. "I've never talked to Oregon until this year."

But playing on an AAU team that includes Bishop Gorman's Chelsie Pitt, Sierra Vista's Jeanette Jackson and other local standouts, Delgado found her place in Eugene, Ore.

While AAU girls basketball tournaments don't generate the same buzz as the boys events, they give girls a chance to play in front of major college coaches.

"On AAU teams, you're playing with the best girls in the nation, so it's going to give you the opportunity to showcase your talent," said Jade Washington, Delgado's teammate with Liberty and Vegas Elite.

It's common for men's college basketball coaches to converge on Las Vegas gyms during the NCAA evaluation period. But the girls fields, even in landmark events, are smaller.

The adidas boys tournament featured 425 of the nation's top teams, with coaches from high-profile universities lining the courts. The girls division had 32 teams in two divisions. Five local teams were featured along with squads from Kaneohe, Hawaii, to Regina, Saskatchewan.

Several games attracted no college coaches, only parents and fans.

That was the case Friday in a 9 p.m. tipoff between Vegas Elite and Vegas Bulldogs, an AAU team made up of all Centennial players.

Vegas Bulldogs rallied to win 52-51 led by 15 points apiece from Jada Brown and Courtney Hayes, who has committed to Louisiana Tech.

Delgado scored nine points while playing on a sprained ankle, saying she wouldn't sit out a "rivalry game."

But it's not always about the win.

"You're here in front of the college coaches. You could lose by 20 and have a good game and it's still good," Washington said.

Playing on a composite team can mean having to mesh with high school rivals.

"It's challenging," said Vegas Elite coach Brian Sitter, who has coached high school-age girls since 2004. "One of the coolest things is, every year, when we start, we have that barrier between Liberty girls and Gorman girls and Green Valley girls ... and every year, without fail, one month into (the summer), they're all best friends."

Balancing the team with its individualities can also be challenging, Sitter said.

"The goal is to show the team well, be competitive and give girls opportunities to show their basketball abilities to the college coaches," he said.

■ NOTE -- Vegas Elite Blue lost 58-44 in the semifinals on Monday to Team Concept Heat (Ore.), which won the 17s division after edging Orange County Elite (Calif.) 48-44 in the final.

Contact reporter Sean Walker at swalker@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0430.