By Tom Robinson, NEPA Elite News
SCRANTON – There are very few high school basketball players with the skill set that Ciera Toomey has developed in her time with the NEPA Elite and Dunmore High School programs.
ESPN ranks the versatile, 6-foot-4 Toomey as the third-best women’s basketball prospect in the country in the Class of 2023.
So, when it comes time for Toomey to seek new ways to add to her game, she aims high, pointing to another 6-foot-4 player who is one of the game’s biggest stars ever.
“I like to think I play like Breanna Stewart,” Toomey, the University of North Carolina’s newest commit, said of the Seattle Storm forward.
Stewart is the only four-time Final Four Most Outstanding Player in National Collegiate Athletic Association history and a three-time national collegiate Player of the Year at the University of Connecticut. Stewart did not stop there, adding WNBA Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors and championships along with being the MVP of the 2020 Olympic women’s tournament where she became a gold medalist for the second time.
“Obviously, she is much better than I am,” Toomey said.
That doesn’t stop Toomey from trying to emulate Stewart’s game, particularly during individual training sessions at Riverfront Sports with NEPA Elite founder Kevin Clark, the coach of the NEPA Elite Clark 17U team that Toomey twice led to Hoop Group Showcase League titles.
“The moves she makes, coach Clark and I will watch them and implement them and see which ones I can see myself using in a game,” Toomey said.
Watch closely at a Dunmore game and, after execution, you might see a smile on Toomey’s face and quick eye contact with Clark in the crowd.
“It’s a connection we had as player and trainer,” Toomey said. “Breanna Stewart and Ciera have the same exact traits.
“In the recruiting processes, in talking to all these coaches, no matter who you’re talking about, you say, ‘she kind of reminds me of this person’. I talked to a lot of coaches and spent a lot of time on the phone in the past year and almost every single one of them said, ‘she kind of reminds me of Breanna Stewart’.”
It’s a comparison that is flattering to Toomey.
“There’s certain moves that, if you watch, I probably got them from her,” Toomey said.
Over time, Clark and Toomey developed the habit of sharing film clips of Stewart moves in game action.
“It would be ‘we like that, let’s work on it’,” Clark said. “It was about more than getting shots up.”
Clark said parts of the in-depth training were sometimes replaced by “skull sessions” on how to best work on a move and create it in real-time, game situations.
“She’s such a good student of the game, that it didn’t take her long; you wouldn’t have to rep it as much as you would with somebody else,” Clark said. “The crazy part was – and this is what makes her different – she would be able to go the next day and use that move and execute it to perfection.
“It seems to have worked out for how sharp she is, not just as a player, but her IQ, it’s just different than everybody else’s.”
MORE COVERAGE OF TOOMEY’S COLLEGE DECISION
Main news story on NEPA Sports Nation. https://nepasportsnation.com/toomey/.
Toomey had many to thank in her announcement, as reported on NEPABasketball.com. https://nepabasketball.com/2021-22/Recruiting/ToomeyChoosesUNC.
NEPABasketball.com broke down the process on how more than two dozen offers were whittled down to UConn and North Carolina and then, finally, the Tar Heels. https://nepabasketball.com/2021-22/Recruiting/ToomeyDecisionProcess.
Ciera Toomey recruiting Q&A. https://nepasportsnation.com/ciera-toomey-recruiting-q-a/.
Victoria and Ciera followed their mother Carrie into basketball. https://nepasportsnation.com/toomeys-share-love-of-basketball/.