Hailey Oskey isn’t old enough to have a driver’s license.
But the Seymour freshman already has a Division I college basketball scholarship offer.
The 5-foot-10 guard received one from South Dakota State University before she played in her first high school game.
“I’ve been around a long time, and I’ve never heard of that,” Green Bay Southwest girls basketball coach Casey Zakowski said last week after a nonconference game against Seymour.
Oskey is one of the reasons the Bay Conference title race should be interesting.
Despite having to replace four starters, New London remains the favorite to win a fourth straight championship in the nine-team conference.
But the gap to catch the Bulldogs is closing with many young and upcoming squads, like Denmark and West De Pere, expected to be hot on the defending champs’ heels.
Then there is Seymour, which may not be able to win the conference this season, but will play a big role in deciding who does with its freshman phenom Oskey.
It’s only appropriate that after the Bay lost Oconto Falls standout McKenna Larsen — a first-team all-conference performer for four years — a player with Oskey’s potential enters the fold.
“She is a unique athlete,” Seymour coach Nick Darnick said. “She’s a legit 5-foot-10 girl that’s a guard. If need be, if matchups dictate otherwise, we can put her in the post and she can be a post player.
“She’s just that unique athlete that can do really anything you ask her to do. Then on top of that, she has a fantastic shot and an unreal sense of the game and where to be and all those intangibles that go with playing basketball.”
Oskey’s play with Oshkosh Flight Elite on the AAU circuit gained her notoriety with college scouts. South Dakota State is the first program to formally make her a scholarship offer, while UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee, Illinois and Iowa have shown interest.
The college attention unfortunately also can bring unrealistic expectations.
“That’s a lot of pressure,” Green Bay Southwest senior and Marquette recruit Natisha Hiedeman said. “Everybody thinks because you’ve got a scholarship offer you’re all that. You’re going to be getting ‘overrated’ chants (from student sections). There’s always going to be pressure on her, but she can use that to motivate her and give her energy to feed off. That’s what I do.”
There is a growing trend in national college recruiting for younger players to receive offers. However, it still is rare for players from this area.
That may be changing.
Oskey isn’t the only player on her AAU team who has received a scholarship offer as a freshman. Sydney Levy, from Appleton North, got one from UW-Milwaukee.
“I think it’s going to still be pretty rare, even in the years ahead,” said Zakowski, who has coached high school basketball in the area for 31 years.
Although Zakowski had never heard of an area player — boy or girl — receiving a scholarship offer before playing in a high school game, he was well aware of Oskey’s talent and bloodlines before this year.
Her father, Chad, was a standout player on the Seymour boys 1993 state team, which was the first of 12 state appearances the Thunder has made under coach Jon Murphy.
Oskey’s older brother, Dakota, is a freshman on the St. Norbert College men’s basketball team after putting together a stellar four-year varsity run at Seymour.
“Dakota at times last year would nudge me and say, ‘You know my sister is coming up, right?’ ” said Darnick, who was an assistant boys coach at Seymour before taking over as the school’s varsity girls coach last year.
Seymour is coming off a 7-17 season and would have been considered an improved team even without Oskey. The Thunder has three returning starters, including senior Asia Danforth, who earned second-team all-conference last season.
Danforth’s experience and floor presence is the perfect complement to Oskey, who gets rides from the senior point guard to school and practices.
“It was debated for a while how long we were going to wait to have Hailey on varsity,” Darnick said. “But it took one summer league game and we were like, ‘It’s now. We should do it right now.’
“They welcomed her in. They encouraged her. They cheered for her and made her feel apart of us. … There’s no definition anymore amongst us that, well, she’s a freshman.”
But there is still a maturation process Oskey must go through.
“She’s still learning,” Darnick said. “There’s going to be mistakes, but sometimes she just makes up for those mistakes with her athleticism. The job we have is to teach her, so she can overcome those mistakes and just keep getting better.”
BAY CONFERENCE AT A GLANCE
Coach: Kory Fredrikson, second year.
2013-14 record: 12-11, 7-9 Bay.
Key players: Jennifer Nehls (jr., F, 6-0), Britney Petersen (sr., F, 5-11), Karli Pennings (so., F, 5-9), Ashley Leiterman (so., G, 5-8), Kelsey Vandenlangenberg (sr., G, 5-2).
Notable: The Vikings return nine letterwinners and four starters. Nehls, a first-team all-conference choice, was the Bay’s second-leading scorer (12.7 points per game) and third-leading rebounder (6.4 rpg) last season. Petersen was honorable-mention all-conference after averaging 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.
Coach: Della Otradovec, second year.
2013-14 record: 7-16, 4-12.
Key players: Sarah Kinnard (sr., G/F, 5-7), Rachel Warnke (sr., G, 5-5), Megan TeKulve (sr., G, 5-4), Brynn Schartner (jr., F, 5-8), Taylor Cravillion (jr., G, 5-5).
Notable: Kinnard earned second-team all-conference the past two years. She averaged 10.4 points and 4.4 rebounds last season. Junior Emily Schiltz is entering the varsity lineup after missing a majority of her first two years with knee issues.
Coach: Luke Maulding, third year.
2013-14 record: 4-19, 3-13.
Key players: Cassie Hilbert (sr.), Kierstin Metzner (jr.), Teya Lambie (jr.), Lexi Bohan (jr.), Alex Cording (sr.).
Notable: Hilbert was second-team all-conference after averaging 8.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. After going winless in conference play in 2012-13, the Marines posted wins against Seymour, West De Pere and Shawano in addition to beating conference newcomer Menasha in the playoffs.
Coach: Robin Matz
2013-14 record: 2-21,1-17 FVA.
Key players: Megan Jones (sr., G, 5-6), Zohne LaVelle (sr., C, 6-1), Ashley Siegel (jr., G, 5-4), Brooklyn Hackbarth (sr., F, 5-8).
Notable: The Blue Jays take the place of Hortonville in the Bay after finishing in last place in the Fox Valley Association last season. Jones (8.9 ppg) is the top returning scorer.
Coach: Troy Krause, 14th year (nonconsecutive).
2013-14 record: 20-5, 15-1.
Key players: Payton Mix (sr., F, 6-0), Leah Porath (so., G/F, 5-7), Maddie Schroeder (sr., G, 5-4), Cassidy Pethke (jr., G, 5-6), Alycia Halvorsen (sr., G/F, 5-7).
Notable: The Bulldogs had their 52-game conference winning streak and run of three straight D2 state appearances come to an end last season. New London remains the favorite to win a fourth straight conference title despite having only one returning starter (Mix).
Coach: Mike Kaczmareck, fifth year.
2013-14 record: 22-4, 13-3.
Key players: Elizabeth Manns (sr., G, 5-4), Bailey Wolf (jr., G, 5-4), Alyssa Nelson (jr., F, 5-9), Madison Helmle (jr., F, 5-7), Kayla Virtues (sr., F, 5-9).
Notable: After making their first state appearance (D3) in program history, the Panthers will have to replace three starters, including Bay player of the year McKenna Larsen. Manns (8.2 ppg) and Virtues are returning starters.
Coach: Ryan Koenig, third year.
2013-14 record: 5-18, 4-12.
Key players: Morgan Klitzke (jr., F, 5-9), Megan Klitzke (jr., G, 5-9), Briana Boda (sr., F, 5-9), Sara Hokenstad (jr., G/F, 5-7), Erika Dunnam (jr., C, 6-0).
Notable: The Hawks return four of their top five scorers from last season, including point guard Megan Klitzke (6.3 ppg). Senior guard Courtney Ainsworth returns to the team after missing last season with an injury.
Coach: Nick Darnick, second year.
2013-14 record: 7-17, 6-10.
Key players:Asia Danforth (sr., G, 5-4), Madilyn Heinke (sr., F, 5-11), Julie Baumgart (sr., F, 5-6), Sarah Schultz (sr., G, 5-5), Jackie Zahn (jr., F, 6-0), Anna Schenk (jr., G, 5-6), Hailey Oskey (fr., G, 5-10).
Notable: Danforth averaged 8.4 ppg to earn second-team all-conference last season. Oskey has led the team in scoring in its first three games and is averaging 15.0 ppg.
West De Pere
Coach: Ashley Anthon, second year.
2013-14 record: 9-14, 7-9.
Key players: Bailey Denis (sr., G, 5-8), Liz Edinger (so., G, 5-4), Franki Bellerud (jr., G, 5-7), Taylor Strick (sr., F, 6-0), Hannah Stefaniak (so., F, 5-11), Kelsey VanVonderen (sr., C, 6-1).
Notable: The Phantoms return eight letterwinners, including Edinger (second team) and Stefaniak (honorable mention), who both earned all-conference recognition as freshmen. Denis was second-team all-conference as a sophomore before missing a majority of her junior year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. VanVonderen also missed last season with a knee injury.