HSE phenom Sydney Parrish 'not your typical freshman'

HSE phenom Sydney Parrish 'not your typical freshman'

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HSE phenom Sydney Parrish 'not your typical freshman'

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Hamilton Southeastern freshman Sydney Parrish leads the Royals in scoring and rebounding.

Hamilton Southeastern freshman Sydney Parrish leads the Royals in scoring and rebounding.

FISHERS — Rushing back in transition, Sydney Parrish chases down a dribbling Warren Central guard and gets a hand on her as she goes for a layup. Before the foul whistle even blows, Parrish’s face drops. She knows what she did.

Over on the sideline, Hamilton Southeastern coach Chris Huppenthal knows, too. He shakes his head and immediately calls for a substitution, pulling his 15-year-old freshman out of the game after her third foul. He talks to her right away, while the rest of the Royals girls continue to show the Warriors why they are ranked No. 5 in the state.

The conversation between player and coach isn’t a new one, so it doesn’t last very long. But it ends with a short smile and a pat on the back from Huppenthal, who knows Parrish understands what he expects from her.

“I did another freshman-type move again,” Parrish said after Thursday night’s 68-56 win over Warren Central. She finished with 21 points. “(Coach) tells me all the time, ‘Just watch your fouls, be smart and keep playing smart.’”

As a 6-1 wing, Parrish is one of the top freshmen in the state, and can knock down 3s as well or better than just about any guard in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference — even more impressive considering her size. She wowed scouts and media alike over the summer at the USA Basketball U17 scrimmages, and is currently the only Indiana player listed in ESPN’s Class of 2020 recruits.

Parrish’s talent has only grown more evident in her first season with Hamilton Southeastern (15-3), leading the state-contending Royals with 16.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Hamilton Southeastern freshman Sydney Parrish is attracting plenty of interest from college coaches.

Hamilton Southeastern freshman Sydney Parrish is attracting plenty of interest from college coaches.

“There’s nothing 15-year-old about that,” Huppenthal said. “A girl like that comes around once in a many moons. You have the pleasure of coaching every kid, and every kid brings her own unique ability to the team, but her talent is just something you don’t see often. No, she’s not a typical freshman. That’s obvious. I don’t even think she’d be a typical senior.”

But here’s the catch: Hamilton Southeastern doesn’t need Parrish to be a star to be a great team. The Royals’ roster is already packed with talented players, such as senior Bre Lloyd or sophomores Amaya Hamilton and Malea Jackson.

So instead, as simplified as it sounds, the Royals just need Parrish to learn how to fit in.

“She’s learning how to be a great teammate,” Huppenthal said. “She hasn’t really always had to do that. Her teammates have always looked up to her. Well, she’s got kids she’s got to look up to now. She’s got kids she’s got to rely on, and she’s learning how to do that and deflect some of the responsibility to the older kids.”

Parrish already knew Hamilton and Jackson from playing AAU basketball together, but not everyone was as well acquainted — or so keen on letting a freshman waltz in and take starting minutes they were eyeing for themselves before the season.

Though, you wouldn’t guess it based on how many encouraging text messages from teammates Parrish’s mother, Aimee, said she saw on her daughter’s phone after she scored a career-high 33 points in the Royals’ 58-49 win over Plainfield on Dec. 22.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better team,” said Aimee Parrish, who played basketball at Ball State. “That’s why it’s not been such a hard transition (into high school) because they’ve been so welcoming.”

Hamilton Southeastern freshman Sydney Parrish scored 33 points in the Royals' 58-49 win over Plainfield on Dec. 22

Hamilton Southeastern freshman Sydney Parrish scored 33 points in the Royals’ 58-49 win over Plainfield on Dec. 22

As much as they can, the Parrishes filter out the attention their daughter receives from college recruiters at this point. Huppenthal helps because he, like the Parrishes, understands there are more important things for a 15-year-old to be worried about than a college coach sitting in the stands.

“Syd doesn’t really get rattled by much … but I don’t think she even knows what the challenges (of being a college recruit) are yet,” Parrish said. “She’s still so young she doesn’t even know what to worry about.”

No doubt, a time will come when the college attention Sydney Parrish receives will be unavoidable. Somewhere near 30-40 schools have already expressed interest in seeing how her talent develops. And Parrish wants to be a college basketball player — but now, she knows, is not the time to worry about it.

“It’s special to be this young and having those opportunities, but all the other girls on our team have that same attention,” Parrish said. “I just try to stay as humble as possible and keep relying on my teammates to keep me humble and not get a big head with everything.”

There are things Parrish still does that make Huppenthal shake his head. He teases her all the time about still being a freshman — mentally more than physically. But she’s learning how to be good at filling her role, how to be a good teammate and how being good at the right moments can lead to greatness.

“One of the best thing I love about Sydney is Sydney is always where her feet are,” Huppenthal said. “She’s right there in the moment all the time. She’s with her teammates.”

Follow IndyStar reporter Jordan J. Wilson on Twitter: @Wilsonable07.

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