Safe to say Aquira DeCosta, the top-ranked girls basketball player in the Class of 2018, is off to a good start. A really good start.
The 6-2 DeCosta has led St. Mary’s (Stockton, Calif.) to a 5-0 record heading into the Nike Tournament of Champions, beginning next week in Phoenix.
She was named the Most Valuable Player of the Cardinal Newman Classic in Santa Rosa after posting a total of 57 points and 42 rebounds in three games. That included a game of 20 points and 20 rebounds against Menlo-Atherton.
An American Family Insurance Preseason ALL-USA selection, he then had 24 and 10 in a victory against Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep (San Francisco).
Thus far, she is averaging 18.2 points and 13.4 rebounds, an increase from averages of 15.2 and 9.4 last season.
St. Mary’s, which was ranked No. 1 in the Super 25 for much of last season, is ranked No. 16 this season. The Rams are without Mi’Cole Cayton, now at Cal, and Kat Tudor, now at Oregon State, and lost another player to transfer.
“We have lost some key players last year that were clutch so I do believe that I have more responsibility on myself this season,” DeCosta said. “I have been working on my communication both on and off the court and I am building up my leadership role on this team. I feel like I’m handling it pretty well so far and I’m just going to continue what I’m doing.”
DeCosta is coming off a summer in which he averaged 10.1 rebounds and 9.6 points for Team USA in U17 World Championships.
She narrowed her recruiting choices to six, announcing the finalists in no particular order on Nov. 1 — Baylor, UCLA, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisville and Washington.
“My game has its areas for improvement like anyone else’s so I’m constantly working on it,” she said. “I’ve been specifically working on my mid- to long-range shot more and then my ballhandling and just being more aggressive and a dominant force on the court.”
The TOC provides an opportunity for Stockton to test itself against many of the nation’s best programs. The Ram ran through the event last season with four wins, including a five-point finals victory against nationally ranked Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.).
“The team and I, we are focused on what we have to do and we’re ready for anything coming our way,” DeCosta said. “I think that we are actually playing really good. We’re playing with a lot of heart and intensity and even though we have a long way to go, I’m proud of how hard we are working every day to get better and to reach our full potential as a team.”