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Wildcat making big strides

Six-foot seventh grader brimming with promise on the basketball court
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Baylee Vanderdoes’ blood runs deeps with talent on the basketball court. And in seventh-grade, she stands 6 feet tall. Vanderdoes, who attends E.V. Cain Middle School, isn’t relying on sheer natural talent, though. She works hard on the court, doing practice drills and perfecting her moves, so that one day she can be considered among the best in the world. Vanderdoes plays AAU basketball for The Hurricanes in Roseville and on the E.V. Cain Wildcats team, which is coached by her grandfather Bernhardt Peat. Peat, who got a full-ride scholarship to play Division I football and basketball at UC Berkeley, was one of the most prolific athletes to ever come out of Placer High. He went on to play professional basketball in Europe for 17 years and still holds the long-jump record for the Hillmen. In addition to coaching the seventh grade girls team at E.V. Cain, Peat coaches the JV girls basketball team at Placer. Vanderdoes isn’t the first of his kin that Peat has coached. Vanderdoes’ aunt also got his expert training. “I did with my daughter Corrine. She played at Placer in the late ‘90’s, so I am kind of used to it,” Peat said. “I am her (Vanderdoes’) trainer/grandfather. This time if she gets mad at me at practice I don’t have to go home with her.” Vanderdoes said she has some big goals, so she enjoys being coached by her grandpa. Part of those dreams involve following in his footsteps. “I want to be on varsity when I am a freshman,” Vanderdoes said. “I also want to get a basketball scholarship to (the University of Connecticut) and play Euro ball.” The next tallest player on the E.V. Cain team is 5-8. Vanderdoes said that while being taller than most of the girls her age has some advantages, it doesn’t make her an instant success. “It can slow me down,” Vanderdoes said. “It’s good for blocking balls.” Peat estimated his starting center averaged 12 points, 15 rebounds and 7 blocks per game for the Wildcats, who finished the season 7-5 overall and just missed the playoffs. While Peat said his granddaughter might have a ways to go before she reaches her ultimate goals, Vanderdoes knows what it will take to reach them. “I had a time where I was being lazy and didn’t want to play, but I started back up again and I just love it,” Vanderdoes said. “I have to hustle.” Placer basketball coach Tony Camillucci said that there have been two girls in the decade he has been coaching there to play on the varsity team as freshmen. “It’s a big jump, especially from eighth grade. Kasey Riecks and Polly Dong were the only two since I have been here.” Camillucci said. “We like to have the best 12 in the school on varsity.” Camillucci also said that while he hasn’t seen Vanderdoes play in a game, he has seen her practice with Peat. While height alone isn’t enough of a factor to jump up to varsity, he would welcome a player who was good enough all around and ready to make the mental jump. Beyond high school her height could be a big advantage. “If she grew another three inches that would help her at the next level,” Camillucci said. Right now she is in her AAU season. The Hurricanes have gone undefeated so far. Vanderdoes said she hopes they keep up the winning streak. In a family that relishes competition, Vanderdoes said one of her more short-term goals is to learn how to slam dunk, like her brother Eddie Vanderdoes, who plays football and baseball at Placer. Eddie is 6-3, 290 pounds. If Vanderdoes were to master her dunk, she would be the first girl that Camillucci can ever remember being able to at Placer. “It’s cool to watch her because Baylee just keeps getting better and better,” said Baylee’s mother Behia Vanderdoes. “I would join her over there if she went to play Euro ball.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.