USA TODAY High School Sports has unveiled the ALL-USA Girls Basketball Teams for the 2018-19 season as selected by the USA TODAY Sports staff in consultation with high school coaches and recruiting experts.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Azzi Fudd, St. John’s
Name: Audrey Taylor
School: Franklin (Somerset, N.J.)
Super 25 Ranking: 12
Details: After nine years of coaching Franklin, Audrey Taylor’s team put it all together in perhaps the greatest girls basketball season in state history. The Warriors were the third team to have an undefeated record in New Jersey history, the most wins of any undefeated team, and a Tournament of Champions victory.
The team now has three TOC appearances in a row. After going 12-17 Taylor’s first season, the team has progressively improved, and after going 14-10 four seasons ago, Franklin has gone 85-15 since.
“(We created) a standard to be tough, defend, and play with your heart, with passion,” Taylor said. “A lot of my kids thrive off of my energy so I would think that I set a standard and it was a winning standard and based on the things that we were going to do, we were going to defend, we were going to rebound the ball and we were going to be aggressive on offense.”
She did this while working through the death of her mom, who died during the season. Taylor said the empathy and love of her players helped her move through it.
“They’ve seen me be strong for so long that they finally were able to give that back to me. They kept me smiling, kept me encouraged and honestly it just felt good to be around them,” she said. “I give the credit to them and just the kids that they are”
Through all that, the team never lost, dismantling opponents with a well-rounded cast led by McDonald’s All American Diamond Miller.
Taylor helped her players mature on and off the court as they proved themselves as one of the best teams in the country.
The following answers have been lightly edited for clarity.
Favorite guilty-pleasure food: Gummy bears … I used to get five-pound bags of candy when I was in high school, like when I scored 1,000th point or something would happen, I would get candy…. Now that I’m older I can’t even get close to something like that. When we won (the 2016 TOC), I probably had a just few packs, that’s all.
Early jobs: I worked at a sneaker store. That was a great job, cause all the money that I made from my check, I actually gave back to the sneaker store. That was one of my first jobs that I remember, and definitely life lesson that you can’t spend your paycheck where you work.
Favorite shoes she bought there: The Jordan Concords, the ones that had the black patent leather that went all around the front, and then they had the white.
Favorite player: Magic Johnson. I was a point guard, he was a point guard. I loved his vision and I loved that he was able to do everything on the court, and the impact that he had on the court. Basketball’s so different than it used to be, but he shared the ball and scored when he needed to. That’s actually the way I coach. I believe in sharing the ball and knowing when to take your shots. It’s all about the right decision at the right time.
Franklin traditions: I would say the way we start the game. Every individual player that starts, we have a different handshake. And right before we go out to tip the ball, there’s a chant that they wait for me to say. The chant is simple word: Eat. ‘1-2-3 eat.’ That mentality to go out and be that aggressive lion, let’s go out here and eat this team up.
Boys Coach of the Year: Mike Thompson, McEachern
Boys Player of the Year: Sharife Cooper, McEachern
LOOKBACK: 2017-18 ALL-USA Girls Basketball Team