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Talented high school basketballer may be unable to play because school can’t field a team

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) – A rising high school basketball star could be sidelined during her important junior year because her school didn’t have enough players to field a team.

Now, she’s caught in the crosshairs of state rules that would punish her for going to a different school to play.

Chanelle Anderson has been going to The Barstow School, an elite private school in South Kansas City, since the 3rd grade. Her favorite things are science and basketball. But this season, there weren’t enough players at tryouts to field a team. State rules indicate that, if you transfer schools for sports, you’re ineligible to play for a year.

Watch Chanelle Anderson on the court and you’ll see her skill. But, talk to her about her point guard power moves and you’ll see her passion.

“The way you can just move to move somebody else out of your way, it makes me want to grab a ball,” she said, moving her hands, holding a phantom ball. “Like a big power move, it makes me feel strong. It makes me feel empowered, because I know what I can do and what I do for my team.”

Her dad’s eyes light up when he watches her game tapes. He said colleges have already expressed interest in recruiting her.

“This is, like, precious,” said Charles Anderson, looking down at his phone playing highlights. “I got tape of all of them.”

But, college interest can fade if she doesn’t stay at the top and prove it by playing. This coming season is her junior year.

Her parents emailed the athletic director in May about whether they’d have enough players. He replied that, if there was a transfer due to not enough players, “the school administration would work with the MSHSAA [Missouri State High School Athletic Association] to get the student-athlete eligibility.”

A statement from the school sent this week says the opposite.

“When a student requests to transfer schools, MSHSAA member schools must indicate if the reason for the transfer is athletic,” wrote Lisa Tulp, the school’s director of communications and marketing. “The Barstow School informs any family who may transfer as a high school student that there may be an athletic eligibility issue.”

KCTV5 asked the MSHSAA to explain the logic behind the transfer rules.

“The student is there to be a student first, not to play sports,” explained MSHSAA Communications Director Jason West. “And so, the bylaws are set there to protect that entity and making sure that getting the education is the first priority.”

He said there is an appeal process after transfer if one of several exceptions apply.

“No school is one of the exceptions, but no basketball program is not one of the exceptions,” said West.

The Andersons asked Barstow staff about the possibility of a cooperative arrangement with another school, where Chanelle could play for a different school’s team but still be a student at Barstow. They said that discussion went nowhere.

“The Barstow School had every intention of offering a girls’ basketball team,” wrote Tulp. “Student numbers at a preseason meeting indicated that it would be possible; however, we did not have enough players at tryouts to field a team. We explored the idea of ​​a cooperative program, but logistical issues made it impractical to operate. The school will provide opportunities for interested players to participate in skills training with outside coaches. We look forward to the return of our girls’ basketball team next year, as players on our current middle school teams enter upper school.”

Chanelle’s family said they are at the point now where they are willing to try their luck with a transfer and an appeal. They visited another area private school Wednesday and are waiting to hear if she’ll be accepted.