Sunday, April 4, 2010
Updated: April 5, 11:14 AM ET
Mosqueda-Lewis is Player of Year
By Lindsay Schnell
At this point, some people might be wondering if there's anything left for Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to do.
In just three years, the junior from Mater Dei high school has built a resume that many players could only imagine: She's led the Monarchs in scoring since her freshman season, won a state title and is widely considered the best player in the nation. The ESPN HoopGurlz high-school Player of the Year is a huge reason why Mater Dei finished the season ranked No. 1 in the country.
"She really had a great year from the beginning right to the end," said Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan. "She's very consistent -- each game we were getting 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists from her.
"Every game we got the same kind of production from her, and her best games came against the best competition."
Make no mistake though -- Mosqueda-Lewis has no plans to let up anytime soon.
The 6-foot guard may have deep range and a knack for posting up smaller players, but Mosqueda-Lewis knows that in a little over a year she'll be suiting up for Connecticut -- she has given a verbal commitment to the Huskies and is expected to sign with them in November -- where expectations will raise again.
"I think as a player you can always get better at something," she said. "You have to make sure you find something, even if people think there's nothing you need to work on … For me, I wanna be quicker and I wanna be able to jump higher."
As the season went on, Mosqueda-Lewis got more than a few questions about why she wanted to play at UConn, a school so established and so dominant that missing out on one high-school All-American probably wouldn't hurt.
"I think it's a good thing to want to go to a school that has so much history and is so established, and to play for a coach like Geno [Auriemma], everybody should want to play for a coach who can push you so hard," she said. "When I look at the people who have gone there before me, I think I'm making a good decision."
And all that talk about how UConn beating up on teams is bad for women's basketball? Mosqueda-Lewis doesn't buy it for a second.
"I think more than anything, them winning by so much is going to motivate the girls that they're playing," she said.
As a dominant player herself, Mosqueda-Lewis believes that elevating the level of play in the women's game is never a bad thing. She says that sometimes players as young as the fourth grade come to work out with her, and she knows they are looking to her for inspiration.
"There's always people watching," she said. "Yeah it's a lot of pressure, but I think it's cool that there are girls younger than me who want to achieve some of the goals I have, who want to have around to help them … I feel lucky that I can do that."
Kiernan has watched and coached his share of superstars and says that what Mosqueda-Lewis is doing on the floor can only be good for the game.
"I watched Diana Taurasi play in high school and she was a really, really good player," Kiernan recalled. "You'd watch her and think, 'Oh my gosh this girl has separated herself from everyone.' Is that a bad thing? No, it's a good thing because you grow from it -- young kids watching that, and now watching Kaleena, they say, 'That's what I want to do.'
"You want to see people excel, and you want to see people emulate that."
As she heads into her final summer of high school basketball, Mosqueda-Lewis still needs to work on a few things. She'd like her vertical to be better, and wants to improve on her quickness. There are still things to accomplish -- an undefeated season, perhaps, and another state title.
"Definitely winning it this year makes me want to do it even more next year," she said. "Coach is gonna push us to the limit, but we've gotta make sure we don't let up and get complacent."
Kiernan said that with a player like Mosqueda-Lewis, it's hard to nitpick.
"With a player like Kaleena your criticisms are kinda minuscule -- it's 'you need to do this, this and this, but you do it pretty well anyway,' " he laughed. "She's a pretty polished product for a junior in high school."
But in her own mind, Mosqueda-Lewis is far from a finished product, and there's still a lot to do.
|Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was named 2010 Player of the Year.|
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Lindsay Schnell is a staff writer for HoopGurlz.com. A graduate of Oregon State University, she has been involved in the Oregon girls' basketball community for most her life as a player, high-school coach, writer and fan. She also has been regular contributor to The Oregonian and won several awards for her writing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.