Ashlynn Shade turned 15 years old in July. She has not yet scored a point in a high school varsity basketball game. She has not grabbed a rebound, dished an assist or even taken a dribble. She will do all of those things soon enough.
If Shade’s name does not ring a bell now, it will. Though she is just a couple of months removed from middle school, Shade already has four Division I scholarship offers. Big schools, too. Two Big Ten Conference schools, one from the Big East and another from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“I think it’s really cool because I’ve put in so much hard work to get where I am,” Shade said, talking between games at the Pacers Athletic Center in July for the USA Basketball U.S. Open. “My goal is to play Division I basketball. Seeing that is going to happen is pretty cool.”
Before that, the 5-10 Shade will play her high school basketball at Noblesville (Indiana), where she is already known to those who have been paying attention. Shade has been playing with the high school players since she was in sixth grade. It only takes a few minutes to see why Shade already has the attention of college coaches.
In a game against an admittedly overmatched team in a USA Basketball event in July, Shade makes it look easy. She buries her first three 3-pointers, drops a couple of no-look passes for assists and plays hard – really hard – on defense, getting in passing lanes and playing overwhelming on-ball defense.
Shade sits on the bench for much of the second half in a 40-point win. This summer, her IGB-Morse Gold team – made up of seven girls going into their freshman year and one into her sophomore season, all from Central Indiana – achieved the remarkable distinction by making the Adidas Gauntlet, a group of the 32 top girls teams in the country. Shade’s team was the youngest by two years, and three years younger than most.
“We always come in as the underdog playing those top teams,” she said. “But I think our team is good enough that we know we can beat those top teams. We have the confidence to come out there and beat them. If we play together, we can beat the top teams from Adidas or wherever we play.”