It’s been a busy first month for new Northwest College head women’s basketball coach Camden Levett, with the former Rocky Mountain assistant logging time and miles on the recruiting trail.
“Things have been great; they’re all working out hopefully the way they should be,” Levett said. “We’re up to 14 recruits committed right now, with a chance to bring in the 15th. I like where we’re at, and I think we have enough to run a practice.”
Included in that list of recruits are three players who’ve made a name for themselves on the hardwood in the state of Utah: Tess Henry, Berkley Larsen and Melissa Martinez. Each brings talent and athleticism to the table, and Levett said he’s pleased the trio decided to stay with NWC following the departure of former coach Janis Beal.
“These three Utah players were originally recruited by Coach Beal, and I got the heads-up from each one by her,” Levett said. “They’re all great kids. I’ve talked to some of their club coaches, some of their high school coaches, and obviously Coach Beal had a lot of good things to say about them as well. But what sold me on them as players was when I called them. They’re excited, and ready to get to work.”
A 5’9” guard from Layton Christian Academy in Layton, Utah, Henry is a two-time All-Region selection. She was named Female Athlete of the Year at LCA as a senior, and is a member of the National Honor Society.
“Tess is either going to play the two or the three here [at NWC],” Levett said. “She has great length to her, which helps her defend and rebound pretty well. But what she does best is shoot the three ball; she’s very comfortable at that 3-point line.”
With three older sisters who were accomplished players in their own right, Henry began playing hoops at a young age, inspired by her siblings. She heard about NWC through one of her club basketball coaches, who had played with Coach Beal. After a campus visit, she was sold on NWC.
“When I went to Northwest to tour, the girls on the basketball team looked happy, like they felt at home which is what I was looking for,” Henry said. “They all got along very well and encouraged each other to push themselves when we scrimmaged.”
Henry admits to a bit of trepidation when Beal called to tell her she had accepted a position at College of Idaho, but working with new coaches is nothing new for the incoming freshman.
“I had three coaching changes at the varsity level during high school, and they all turned out good,” she said. “I have a friend who was coached by Coach Cam [Levett] and she said he was one of her favorite coaches. I am just super grateful to play at the college level, no matter who the coach may be.”
Coach Levett said Henry “has just scratched the surface of what she’s capable of.”
“We’re going to try to expand her game and see what those capabilities are,” Levett said. “We’re glad to have a shooter — we’ll always take shooters. There’s kids that enjoy basketball, and there are ones that eat, breathe and live basketball. She’s one of those: She’s a basketball junkie.”
Larsen, a 5’9” forward from Fremont High School in Plain City, Utah, led the Lady Silverwolves to a UHSAA 6A state championship last season. She was named to the 2018 Senior All-Star team.
“Berkley is the type of player that does all the little things to help the team win,” Levett said. “We’re very excited to have her. She’s tall, and a very strong kid, but the best thing about her is she has a great motor. Watching film on her, she’s running the floor and crashing every time her teammates take a shot. Other teams are going to have to worry about her crashing offensive rebounds.”
Larsen began playing hoops in the second grade, but didn’t fall in love with the sport until high school. She attributes that love to having some “really amazing coaches and teammates” that pushed her to be better while making the game fun. Having known a few former Lady Trappers who spoke highly of the program, Larsen said she knew the school would be a good fit.
“For me personally, I was drawn to the great environment that surrounds NWC. It feels like home,” she said. “I was super-nervous about the coach change at first, but after I got to talk to coach Levett, I still felt like NWC was the right fit for me.”
Larsen is also looking forward to playing with different teammates, and challenging herself at the collegiate level.
“[Playing at NWC] will give me a chance to play with and against different people,” she explained. “Most of my teammates I’ve been playing with or against my whole life and, as much as I have loved it, I’m excited to compete at a higher level with more people.”
A 5’4” guard out of Provo High School in Provo, Utah, Martinez was named to the All-Region Academic team, All-Region Second Team and the All-Valley team.
“Martinez is another strong kid. She defends really well,” Levett said. “What I like about her is she’s a true point guard, she’s looking to get teammates involved first. When she gets an outlet pass or a steal, she’s always looking up the court to see if passes are available. We’re going to be a transition team, so she’ll be a very good fit for my system.”
Basketball is a family affair for Martinez, with both of her parents and older brother having played at the collegiate level. Her dad was also a coach, and Martinez can remember playing at the age of 5. NWC popped on her radar at the end of her senior season, when Beal reached out to the Provo coaches to express an interest.
“What most caught my attention [about NWC] was the high standards that the team had academically and socially, and the fact that the team and community were a big family,” Martinez said. “When I went down to Powell for a campus visit I got to meet the girls on the team and some of the faculty. They are all so welcoming; right away I felt at home. I then knew it was the right fit for me.”
Like her fellow recruits, Martinez was a bit nervous about the coaching change, but after talking to Levett and getting a feel for his coaching style and his goals for the team, she was all in.
“It’s always been a dream and goal of mine to play college basketball, so I’m just excited and thankful for the opportunity,” she said. “I’m very excited to be able to compete with collegiate players. I’m also looking forward to continue to develop as a student-athlete.”
Levett said Martinez has the potential to make an immediate impact when the season starts.
“We’re going to be point-guard driven, and she [Martinez] has a great shot at coming in here and competing, getting a lot of minutes right away,” he said.
Levett said he likes the balance of his returning players along with the new recruits.
“I think it’s good to have a balance,” he said. “I’ve got a few local, small-town kids, I’ve got some inner-city kids that will be coming in and I’ve got a Brazilian coming in. I think it’s good to have a mix; that’s what makes college basketball so special. You don’t have the same teammates that you grew up with. There will be some growing pains there, but if a team gels well together, and they’re from all over the world, it’s a lot of fun.”