Idaho prep basketball All-American Destiny Slocum would be a standout in any state

Posted: 02/13/2016 in basketball, women's sports
Tags: , , , , ,

I did something Friday night that I had never previously done unless I was being paid to be in attendance:

I attended a high school girls’ basketball game.

Wait, you’re not sure you heard me correctly? Let me say it again.

I attended a high school girls’ basketball game – and wasn’t paid to be there.

My brother’s family was headed to the Boise-area district championship tilt between Centennial and Mountain View and I decided to tag along so I could see what all the fuss is about when it comes to Destiny Slocum.

The Mountain View senior guard is the reigning Idaho State Player of the Year and a shoo-in to win the award again this season. She also played on the United States under-19 team that won a gold medal in last summer’s FIBA World Championships in Moscow.

And let’s just say she was every bit as good as advertised while scoring 36 points in the Mavericks’ 73-64 victory on Friday night.

She can shoot, she can pass, she can dribble, she can penetrate, she moves well without the ball, she has a solid mix of tenacity and aggressiveness and she probably has had even better games than I witnessed in the contest at Eagle High.

Slocum made six 3-pointers in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score. Her most impressive basket wasn’t even one of her 3-pointers – I’m pretty sure her shooting range extended out to Star – but occurred when she posted up inside the free-throw line and had the ball passed to her.

She caught the ball while defended tightly and immediately knocked down a 13-foot turnaround jumper.

It was the type of shot you don’t see many high school girls even attempt, let alone do it effortlessly and score two points.

Oh yeah, I said she could pass. Picture several bullet-like passes. None of those floating passes that take forever to reach their target.

Slocum is headed to Maryland next season and will play in next month’s prestigious McDonald’s All-Star Game in Chicago. She is the first player – boy or girl – from the state of Idaho to ever be selected.

That Idaho thing was something I wondered about when I first was told about Slocum during her sophomore season.

You see, I covered a couple girls’ basketball games upon first moving to Boise and let’s just say the quality of play wasn’t very good. One of the games was in the state tournament and it looked like the caliber of play that you would see in an eighth-grade league in Southern California.

So it was natural to wonder if Slocum was such a standout because of the sparse talent in the state. As in just way, way better than anyone she’d run into.

But one thing that stood out while seeing Slocum play live is that she would be a solid player in Southern California. Or Washington or Florida. Or Mars.

I also compared her to some women’s college players I covered during my years on the San Diego State beat.

Over the past 25 years, the Aztecs have only been good in women’s basketball when Beth Burns has been the coach. In between Burns’ two stints there was an eight-year period when Barb Smith (49-86 in five seasons) and Jim Tomey (25-58 in three seasons) served as coaches and neither one ever had a winning season.

Know this – Slocum is better right now while in high school than any player on the San Diego State roster during the tenures of Smith and Tomey.

By far.

Slocum and her Mountain View teammates begin their run in the state tournament on Thursday and I think it is clear the top-ranked Mavericks will reach the state title game.

You see, Centennial was ranked second in the state entering Friday’s contest. The Patriots trailed by as many as 24 points midway through the fourth quarter before narrowing the gap.

Friday’s game will be the one and only live impression I will have of Slocum’s game. The NBA All-Star break will end next Thursday so I won’t have a night off work duty to attend another game.

So it’s back to only attending a high school girls’ basketball game if I’m paid to be there.

But this was a pretty good exception to the rule.

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