Detroit Pistons’ She Hoops tournament spurs girls’ dreams of basketball futures

Detroit Free Press

Imagine a world where the WNBA is just as big as the NBA.

Although the leagues are not at the same level yet, the recent boom of attention to women’s basketball has young female athletes hopeful that someday, there will be more opportunities for them to follow their aspirations to the professional level.

The Detroit Pistons saw this growth and created the She Hoops basketball tournament. The Pistons invited local AAU teams from the fifth through eighth grades to register for the tournament at their practice facility in Midtown Detroit, held on Saturday and Sunday.

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Lisa Hines, the Pistons’ youth engagement and development coordinator, was crucial in putting this event together for the community.

“There’s like a little movement going towards girls’ basketball being like in the spotlight with, like, the national championship that happened with Angel Reese and LSU and also a couple other players who were in, like, the NCAA tournament this past March,” Hines said. “So, I feel like now is just a good time to capitalize on that and for us to really get our presence, the Detroit Pistons to get their presence and their name out into the girls basketball community here in the city.”

For the youth participants, playing at the Pistons’ practice facility was by far “the coolest court” they’ve ever played on.

Seventh graders Allison Nielson and Mia Hammoud and fifth grader Kennedie Molden all have aspirations to play at the college level and are excited to see the expansion of the game. Molden said she believes that by the time she’s in college, women’s basketball will be just as big as men’s.

Stacey Lovelace, the Motor City Cruise’s assistant general manager and special assistant to Pistons general manager Troy Weaver, has had a lifelong career in basketball. Before joining the Pistons, Lovelace played professional basketball for 12 years and was an assistant coach in the WNBA and at Oakland University. She praised Hines and Erika Swilley, the Pistons’ vice president of community relations and social responsibility, for putting on an event aimed at helping girls see a career path within the sport.

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“I think with what’s going on in the college space and just the popularity of those superstars in that space are starting to get the recognition as far as like Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese, just the sport in general,” Hines said. “I think it gives them something to look at and gives us something to say, ‘This is big.’ I wouldn’t say women’s basketball was gone away with, but what happened this year in the college space and the WNBA space, I think for growth in that age range has given them something to dream even bigger about.”

Hines said she wants the participants not only to dream big and think about the future, but to take time to enjoy playing the game and making friends while learning.

Attendees will get the chance to meet with other professionals Sunday, including Lindsay Huddleston of Sports Psychology Solutions and Horatio Williams of the Horatio Williams Foundation (a nonprofit “dedicated to addressing and meeting the needs of under-served inner city youth by developing their leadership skills in the concentrated areas of sports, education, and community service”), among others.

Sunday will also feature a pair of championship games. The winners will be honored at a Pistons home game during the 2023-24 season and will receive a grand prize presented by Ally bank.

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