BROOKLYN — This past season’s NCAA Women’s Final Four was in Dallas. Next year, the event is in Columbus, Ohio, but the road to the women’s Final Four always goes through Texas.
Seven of the 24 girls players in the Jordan Brand Classic are from the Lone Star State, an out-sized representation even by the standards of the second-most populous state. It’s not a new trend. Last year’s Jordan Brand Classic included six girls players from Texas and Canyon’s Joe Lombard was the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Girls Coach of the Year.
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“Texas has always been the epicenter for girls basketball,” said UConn-bound guard Lexi Gordon from LD. Bell (Hurst, Texas). “The 2017 (Texas) class is so heavy for girls basketball and we’ve been playing together for so long. It’s fun to be here with them because we’re all so close.”
Chennedy Carter, an American Family Insurance ALL-USA first team guard from Mansfield Timberview (Arlington, Texas), signed with Texas A&M. She said there’s a greater emphasis on the sport in Texas, at the high school level and in summer league play.
“I feel like Texas is a big state for girls basketball,” Carter said. “Three of the top teams in the EYBL are from Texas. We kind of came together and got known by playing on the Nike EYBL circuit.”
Chasity Patterson, a second-team ALL-USA guard from North Shore (Houston) who is headed to the University of Texas, said the big schedules for girls basketball in the state play a role. Duncanville, the Texas 6A champion, played 39 games, more than any other state champion and two more games than NCAA champion South Carolina.
“We push each other and Texans are known for being competitive,” Patterson said. “We play like 38 games, if you make it to state, so there are a lot of games you can better yourself every year.”
Of the seven Texas high schoolers here, three are headed out of state: Gordon; Duke-bound center Jade Williams (The Colony); and Stanford-bound point guard Kiana Williams from Wagner (San Antonio). But keeping four elite players in state bodes well for Baylor, Texas A&M, and Texas. Alexis Morris, a point guard from Legacy Christian Academy (Frisco) has signed with Baylor, as has forward Deauzya Richards from Cypress Ranch (Cypress).
“Most of us are going to Baylor or Texas, so that should put Texas on the map,” Patterson said.