Knoxville's Young Basketball Urban Legend

His basketball buddies still crack on Anthony Logan over something that happened more than a year ago. And he may never hear the end of it, because the plain fact is that the story of how his kid cleaned his clock has attained urban legend status on the tough courts of East Knoxville.

But the other plain fact is that Logan, who has a longstanding reputation as a damn good baller who can still hold his own against most challengers, isn't embarrassed. Quite the contrary. He's proud. Real proud, and rightfully so, because a lot of people who know their hoops say the kid is probably the best player Knoxville has ever produced.

And she was only 14 at the time.

"Now," says Logan, "when I get in a game, everybody tells me, 'You know you too old—you better go get Sade. You need some help.' They're real proud of her over there.' "

Sade, who has practiced, and mastered, moves from the famous "And One" streetball highlight video, is pretty matter-of-fact about beating Anthony. "He kept bumping me, saying 'This is how they play defense in college.'"

"Yeah," says Anthony. "I played kind of rough with her, showing her what it's going to be like. She's not used to people playing physical with her. She doesn't like it, and once they find out that she doesn't like it, that's what people are going to try to do to her.

"We had a little audience—her friends were there. All the little people love Sade. And it got serious for a minute or two. But when she started putting the moves on me, I couldn't let her outdo me.

"She's got a nice crossover and she likes to dribble the ball. If you don't play good D, she's gonna shake you. She likes to drive to the hole and she likes to shoot a little jumper, too. She thinks she's got the best jumper in the world."

And how does Sade remember it? "I just took him to the hole. I beat him two points, and when it was over, I said 'I just beat you. Now what do you have to say about that?' And he was like 'I was just testing you. That's good.'

"My friends were cheering for me: 'Oh, Sade beat her dad!'"

Out in the intense and insular world of girls' basketball, everybody in East Tennessee knows South Doyle High School sophomore Sade (pronounced Shar-Day, like the singer) Buley—except, perhaps, certain high-school game announcers, like the one at Sequoyah High in Madisonville who kept calling her "Shi-day Bully." Sade, in the fashion of Elvis or Dolly, needs no last name.

"Shorty" to her friends, the nimble 5'11" 15-year-old wing player is exceptionally quick and versatile. She jumps center, has a mean crossover dribble, a killer jumpshot, a reliable three-point shot and leads the KIL in scoring, averaging more than 23 points per game. South Doyle Coach Chris Milligan describes her as "lean and sneaky—I think she could bend over backward—it's like she's put together with rubber bands." His major criticism of her game is that she's not crazy about playing defense.

Maybe that's why local coaches saw fit to name her only to the all-KIL third team as a freshman, although she averaged more than 17 points per game, played well enough to be named to the 2002 pre-season Street & Smith Honorable Mention All-American list, and was widely considered one of the top players in the state. Or maybe it was something else.

Her middle-school coach, close friend and mentor Gary Wear says Sade's on-court demeanor brings on problems. "She's just not the All-American goody-goody girl with the smile on her face," he says. "Everybody used to hate the Miami Hurricanes, because nobody could beat them. People just don't like her because of her attitude on the floor—she's intense. She's going to slam her hand and get upset when she doesn't play like she expects herself to. She is by far the most talented player in this state—when she went to the AAU nationals, there was nobody even close to her. How many other girls have you ever seen, when they shoot an airball or travel—the other team cheers? A lot of people are basically just hating to see her with that much talent."

"You wouldn't believe the stuff people make up about her," says Milligan. "It started before she ever came here. Just like everybody else, I'd heard a million things about where she was going to school, and although she was at South Doyle Middle, you're not allowed to recruit, so the only thing I could do was go watch her play a couple times, and sit in the stands. The year before she came here, we won one game the entire season. The year before that, we went winless. That's one win in two years. I wouldn't have blamed her if she'd gone somewhere else. When she came out to practice with us in the summer, I told the team I had Christmas in July.

"I feel more like her dad than her coach. I love her. She drives me crazy sometimes— she's the total class clown and prankster. It can be hard to have practice, because she's always cracking up the other girls. She got in trouble two or three times last year, and it scared me to death.

"I've had a good player before, but I've never experienced anything quite like these rumors. A lot of it is how good she is—she's getting so much attention, and for some of these other parents, its hard for them to take. What they don't realize is that she really doesn't have it easy. She's doing so well to stay in school, get decent grades, make it to practice—she has to have to somebody to take her home every single time that we practice. She has to go through a lot of things that these other kids aren't aware of.

"The worst rumor was that she'd gone to Pat Head Summitt Camp and gotten thrown out because she cussed out Pat Summitt. That's just crazy. She wasn't even there—and besides that, I don't know who is going to cuss out Pat Summitt. After awhile, I get so tired of telling people it's not true. I don't understand why people want to carry on like this about a 14-year-old girl. Ninety-nine point nine percent of what you hear about her is not true. She's doing what she needs to do—except playing defense."

Where Sade really was this summer was playing AAU basketball with her best friend, Fallon Lee. Fallon, who lives in Athens, Tenn., and is the point guard at McMinn Central High, played the same position for the Tennessee Players, a team organized and coached by Charles Finley, a retired elementary school principal and longtime coach from Blount County. The Players were the Cinderella team at the 14-Under Nationals in LaFayette, Louisiana, last summer, knocking off several favorites to nail down a third-place finish. Next summer, Fallon and Sade say they're going to stick together again, and play for the Tennessee Elite, a 15-Under team in Cookeville.

"Sade's a good girl," says Fallon. "She's kind of shy till you get to know her, but she's hilarious once she gets to talking. It just takes her a while to get comfortable with people. And playing with her is exciting because you never know what she's going to do next. She can do all kinds of fancy tricks. She's one of the best players our age in the state, and when she works on her defense, she's one of the best anywhere.

"She's got a hot head, though, and gets frustrated real easy. If you trip her up, you better watch out. She'll come after you. I might be scared of her if I didn't know her, but she's a sweet girl, deep down. She's not going to be the one to start anything and she's not going to hurt somebody for no reason."

"We were probably the smallest team in the tournament," says Players head coach Charles Finley, who is an assistant coach at Maryville High School this year. "Parents of kids on other teams and college scouts started coming to see us play, and we picked up a lot of fans. I think we became a sentimental favorite, and the officials who talked to me indicated that Sade might have been the best player there."

Finley remembers the first time he ever saw Sade. "It was before the season started when she was in the 6th grade. I was the principal and coach at Mary Blount, and we had a scrimmage with South Doyle. I went over there with Coach Tom Ware, and we go in the gym and see this little girl on the end of the floor all by herself. She's working on a move—over and over and over. All the other kids were down on the other end, and she's just working, working, working. The scrimmage began, and by the second quarter, she got her chance. She did that move. Coach Ware and I looked at each other and just shook our heads. I tried to get her to play AAU for me that next summer."

It took him a couple of years to talk her into it, and Finley says Sade grew up a lot in the two years that he coached her. "She doesn't have a way to get out here, so I'd go pick her up before practice and games, and that first year, sometimes she wasn't where she was supposed to be. This past summer, I told her we were going to work on two Ds—dependability and defense. She's done real well with the dependability."

Finley smiles when he mentions the day she scored a basket for the opposing team. "Probably the best coaching job I've ever done was getting her to go back out on the floor after she scored for the other team."

This winter, he got another view of his erstwhile star when his Maryville Lady Rebels faced off against South Doyle. "She told me 'I only got 4 points when we played y'all last time.' I told her that I didn't care if she got 50, as long as we won," Finley says. "Maybe I shouldn't have said that. She ended up with 23, and we lost. I can tell you it's a lot more fun to watch her playing for you than playing against you."

Coach Ware is desperately ill this year, and Finley won't be coaching AAU next summer. But he helped find Sade and Fallon a top-notch coach to play for, and he will be watching their progress. Like most who have come to know Sade, he says he loves her.

"She's certainly a good kid," Finley says. "She has that 'Can't ever show any weakness' thing, and she's tough. But I think she puts on a show of more toughness than she feels. I don't know anybody who knows her that doesn't like her. She is a very compassionate young lady."

Sometimes that compassion gets tested. Does she notice, for example, how opponents and their fans react when she messes up, like the recent game when she fouled out?

"Yeah," she says. "They were up on their feet like they'd just won a war or something." She shakes her head in disgust, remembering the hard-fought game. "We should've just killed them."

In truth, what the fans say doesn't bother her, as long as her team plays well, and, preferably, wins.

"I hate to lose," she says. "I HATE to lose. I HATE LOSING. But I don't worry about what the fans do. I understand why they're doing it, but I just don't care. Losing is what bothers me."

She got a rare technical a couple of weeks ago for using a colorful term to tell an official what she thought of the foul he'd just called on her. Does she think she's watched more closely than others? "Yeah—It's my attitude on court. I'll go up to them and say 'The girl's holding my jersey'..."

And how does it make her feel when it she's triple-teamed and her opponents seem to get a free pass to bang her around? "Crowded. Every time I drive, the whole team crashes on me. I really didn't know it would be like that."

Sade lives with her mother, Pamela Buley, and to Pam, her daughter's status as a sports celebrity is still rather mystifying. "Did I play sports? Nope, not nothing. I did gym.

"All this makes me a little nervous. I don't know anything about basketball—I'm not a sports person. And getting all these letters from Florida and Louisiana and Oklahoma, anyone you can name, really, it seems kind of funny. She started hearing from colleges when she was in the 6th grade. Who would have thought somebody'd be writing a 6th-grader about where she's going to college? She's got bags and bags of them. Some of it's up at her grandmother's. I just shake my head."

Pam can't help but worry. "I don't want her to be disappointed about anything. What I want more than anything is for her to enjoy her teenage years and get her grades up. We've got to work on that. She's got a lot of homework. When she gets home from practice in the evening, she's in there doing her homework—I feel sorry for her sometimes.."

Her daughter is navigating a path unknown to her mother, but for Pam, Sade is the same funny, wisecracking little kid she's always been—although she concedes that her daughter was always somewhat different than she expected a girl to be. "She was dribbling when she was two," Pam says. "I used to dress her up in those little dresses, but she just wanted to pick up a basketball. She played T-ball and a little football with the boys in the neighborhood. I'd look out and she's the only girl out there. And I haven't had her in a dress since she was nine."

Pam is a hard-working woman who recently lost her job when the company she worked for went bankrupt. She's looking for a new one now, and is working for a temp service in the meantime. She doesn't get to see Sade play much, because she doesn't drive. This complicates things for her and for Sade, who must depend on her coaches and the families of her teammates for transportation.

"The whole team has just really been good to her," Pam says. "She's got some really good friends. Sade makes friends wherever she goes."

Sade inherits her athletic ability from her dad, Anthony Logan, who played on some of the great Austin-East High School teams a couple of decades ago. "When I was at A-E in '82, we lost the state championship game by three," Logan says. "Me, Robert Jones, Joey Clinkscales...I played with the McKenzie twins [Raleigh and Reggie, who went on to NFL fame] a year or two, and one of the people we played against was Reggie White—he played at Chattanooga High. We were pretty good, pretty good."

One thing Sade and her dad disagree about is women's basketball. Sade finds it boring. Anthony loves it. She does, however, make an exception for Lady Vols games, when she gets the chance to go. She is an avid follower of the NBA. Allen Iverson is her on-court role model. Her favorite female player is Tamika Catchings, "because she's good, and she plays hard all the time."

Everyone is concerned about Sade's classroom performance. She used to have decent grades, but got a couple of Ds last semester. Pam has consulted with the South Doyle guidance counselor, and Anthony says he's taking a hard line:

"Sade never had a problem before about her grades. She's always liked school. I tell her that her punishment is no rewards no matter what she does. She can have anything in the world long as she goes to school and does what's right."

Coaching a nascent superstar has bumped Chris Milligan up against the excitement of the bigtime college recruiting scene. Milligan has gotten letters from UCLA and Southern Cal and points between here and there. Andy Landers, the head coach of the Georgia Lady Bulldogs, calls on a regular basis.

"I hope that it gets worse," Milligan says. "I hope her grades pick up, and then we can deal with those [recruiting] problems that come her way."

A story that Bob Richards, a Purdue fan in Indiana who authors and maintains an Internet recruiting site, did about Sade last August hints of the recruiting excitement to come:

"Purdue is showing interest in 6'0 wing scorer Sade Buley of South Doyle HS near Knoxville, TN...Buley led [her AAU team] during the tournament with a 16.1 scoring average. She finished the summer averaging 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals, shooting 47 percent from the floor, 63-percent from the line, and 42 percent (25-of-59) from the perimeter.

"Already possessing the lethal combination of speed and shooting ability, Buley makes an ideal wing prospect. Give her room, and she will shoot you out of a game. Crowd her, and she will go around her defender to the basket. Her long arms allow her to block a couple shots per game, and she has a handle on the ball most older players have yet to polish."

When the Blue Star Index Top 80 (run by Nike-affiliated Mike Flynn of Philadelphia, who also operates the prestigious Nike Camp) came out in November, Sade was rated the 67th-best player in the country, regardless of class. Among sophomores, she held the sixth-best ranking—a phenomenal breakthrough for a player who had received no national publicity before the summer began.

"I'm not looking up there," said Sade during warm-ups at the Central High game Tuesday. She'd just been told about the young white woman with long, straight hair sitting in the top row of the visitors' bleachers next to the dark blue bag marked "Duke Basketball." It was Blue Devil assistant Georgia Schweitzer. Sade started slowly, and her first three shots clanged off the rim. By the time Coach Milligan took her out of the game with five minutes left on the clock, however, Sade had tied the school scoring record with 36 points. The Lady Cherokees won 61-31. And Sade played some "D."

Tennessee's recruiting coordinator Mickie DeMoss is pretty clear about the kind of players she's looking for. "We say we're looking for the Three A's," she says. "Athletic ability, Academics and Attitude. Obviously, you need to be athletic. And you've got to have the grades. And you've got to be serious about your game, and handle yourself in a respectable manner on and off the court. There is a narrow margin of error in this program, and we put a great deal into it. I spent two days in July at home, because I was on the road the whole month recruiting.

"Now, I don't mean to say that kids need to come from 'perfect' situations—we've been in all kinds of situations. We've had parents beg Pat to sign a kid, saying 'Please, you do something with this...' There have been kids we've backed off of because of the parents, when they are high-maintenance and hard to deal with.

"Simply put, we're here to mold these kids into women and hopefully put together a pretty good basketball team."

Lady Vol freshman Loree Moore was a highly recruited high-school player from Harbor City, California. She plans to major in graphic design and says she'd advise younger players to "put in that time" on academics if they want to go to college.

"You've got to be very disciplined," Moore says. "You have to learn to listen to people and when your coach gets on your butt, you need to realize what the message is. They're probably just trying to get you to see, so you won't make the same mistakes over and over again...

"This [college] is free. You don't have to pay for it. But you do have to work for it, and work hard every day, in school and on the court. This is hard, but I knew it was the easiest way for me to get to where I want to be. The WNBA is out there, maybe, but basketball doesn't last forever. You've got to work hard."

Back in the South Doyle locker room after a 48-47 win over Heritage, Sade, who scored 26, has changed out of her uniform and is wearing a bright sweater and sparkly earrings. Wear and Milligan are giving her a hard time about last semester's grades. She assures them she's doing better this time around.

"I hope so," says Wear. "Or else you're going to end up like those guys in East Knoxville playing streetball and bragging about how good they used to be in high school. Maybe I can call up Pellissippi State and ask them if they'll start a women's basketball team."

Milligan agrees. "Unless you start working harder, all I'll have to teach you is one line: 'You want fries with that?'"

Sade takes some more ribbing when she admits that one of the classes she's having trouble with is advanced physical education. But she says she knows how important the next year will be, and promises to make better decisions. The talk drifts back to basketball. She looks incredulous when asked if she does "And One" moves during games. "No," she says, emphatically, "that's not basic basketball."

She hates the Lakers, likes the '76ers, Duke, Michael Jordan ("before he got old"), Tracy McGrady, Richard Hamilton and Shane Battier. She thinks that any girl who is serious about her game should play against boys.

As for colleges, she says she doesn't really want to stay in Knoxville, and she knows that at Tennessee, her favorite number, 23, will be unavailable, since it was retired last season in honor of Chamique Holdsclaw. But even so, she'd still love to play where her mom and her dad and her aunts and uncles and cousins and streetball pals like Boonie and Fef and Cousin Chris can all come and see her play. When she dreams hoop dreams, they come in orange.

"My first choice is the Lady Vols."

Her dad is a huge Lady Vols fan, but he says he won't be putting any pressure on his daughter about her college choices.

"It seems like the years are going by quick," Logan says. "I just want Sade to get her education —beyond that, it's on her—wherever she wants to go, just as long as she gets her education. It's hard out here, and the world is so corrupt."

© 2002 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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