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Gilmer sends player, coach to All-Stars

By Jack Stallard , Jack Stallard
July 9, 2017 at 10:52 p.m.


Gilmer's Kyla Grant hasn't gotten any serious offers to play basketball at the next level.

Yet.

Lady Buckeye head coach Mandi Simpson believes that is about to change, and what happens on Tuesday could have a lot to do with it.

Grant has been selected to play in — and Simpson to coach in — the annual Texas Girls Coaches Association All-Star Basketball Games on Tuesday in Austin. The Class 1A-4A All Star game is set for 7 p.m. at Bowie High School. Grant will suit up for the Red team, while Simpson will be across the court as an assistant coach for the Blue squad.

"It's an honor to play in this all-star game," Grant said. "It's a big honor for me to represent Gilmer."

Grant averaged 12 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and 1.5 steals per game last season as Gilmer advanced to the regional tournament for the third straight season. The 6-2 senior-to-be had one of her best games of the year — 22 points and 13 rebounds — in a regional quarterfinal win over then-unbeaten Tatum.

"With Kyla's athletic ability, shooting ability, commitment to playing AAU and just learning the game, she is going to be a steal for some university because she will peak in college," Simpson said of the 6-2 Grant.

"She came to me as a sophomore from another school," Simpson added. "She was raw, but athletic with a beautiful shot. She's tall and athletic, and it's a lot of fun to work with all of those aspects."

Grant, a first team all-district performer as a junior after earning second-team honors as a sophomore, said she hopes to prove she can play with the best of the best during her time in Austin.

"Some colleges have checked me out, but nothing serious. They've contacted me abut coming to camps this summer. I just want to go (to Austin) and have fun, but at the same time I want to showcase my skills and be the best I can be."

Simpson led Gilmer to a 32-4 record last season with playoff wins over Rusk, Brownsboro and Tatum to reach the regional tournament, where the Lady Buckeyes fell to Ranchview in the regional semifinals.

"It's an honor to coach in the game," she said. "More than anything, though, is I want the community to know what is going on with Gilmer basketball. I want to get the kids and parents excited, and the more we get to do and the more success we have, the more important it becomes to the community."

(Follow Jack Stallard on Twitter: @lnjsports).

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