Waves of interest for Jaime Nared
Jaime Nared was flattered but embarrassed.
It was last October, when college coaches were prohibited by the NCAA from talking to recruits. But that didn't stop them from traveling thousands of miles to show the 6-foot-1 wing from Westview High School (Portland, Ore.) they were interested.
"It's rewarding to have them stop by," she said. "But it's also funny for them to walk through the middle of the cafeteria to wave at me. I'm like. 'Why?' "
That question is easy to answer. Nared, 17, is the No. 13 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Super 60 for the 2014 class. Last season, she averaged 23.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.7 steals, winning Metro League MVP honors for the second straight year.
And she's been on the national radar for years.
At age 12, she was flown to New York to appear on ABC's "Good Morning America." She caught the attention of the show's producers when she was kicked off her AAU team -- which was otherwise all male -- for, essentially, being too good.
Nared had already played with those boys for two years when the league decided to ban her.
"I could've understood if they [had banned me] right when I started," Nared said. "I still don't think it would've been right, but it would've made a little more sense. But the fact that they waited two years … Why now? It was ridiculous."
Her mother, Reiko Williams, immediately fought the league's decision and got it overturned within a few months.
Nared played with the boys again for about a year before concentrating on the girls' game. By then, she was ready to start high school, where she became an immediate starter as a Westview freshman.
Basketball stardom, seemingly, has been her destiny since age 5 when she learned the game from her father, Greg Nared, who was a 6-4 freshman reserve on the 1985-86 University of Maryland team that featured the late Len Bias.
Greg, who became a starting guard as a senior, went on to work for Nike for 15 years, ran his own sports agency and served as a University of Washington women's basketball assistant coach in 2010-11. He now does sports consulting.
Reiko was not a college athlete, but she also went to Maryland, and that's where their eldest daughter, Jackie, signed when her stellar prep career at Westview ended.
Jackie had some good games as a Maryland freshman, scoring 10 points in an ACC tournament game against top-seeded Duke, but after one year decided to transfer closer to home, landing at Saint Mary's in Northern California.
"I really did love Maryland," said Jackie, 23, who will be a senior this fall. "But I got more homesick than I anticipated."
Jackie, though, is confident her little sister will have no such issues.
"Jaime and I are very different in that aspect," Jackie said. "I don't think she would mind as much as I did."
"I have no problem with distance," Nared said. "I'm close to my family, but I will see them when I see them."
That's not the only difference between the sisters.
Jaime said Jackie, a 6-1 guard, was a 140-pound "stick" in high school, which is pretty much her current weight.
"I'm 170 [pounds] and a monster," Jaime said with a laugh.
Both players are talented.
Jackie made first-team All-West Coast Conference last season, leading the league in scoring (16.6) and coming in second in rebounding (8.7) with a 23-11 team that made it to the WNIT quarterfinals. She started the year with 25 points and a career-high 17 rebounds against Washington, where her dad once coached.
"I have a lot of work to do to be even half as good as her," Jaime said of her big sister.
Hard work, though, is a Nared trademark.
She's usually the last player to leave practice. After team drills, she has a routine in which she must make, consecutively, a layup, a free throw, a 3-pointer and a shot five-feet beyond the 3-point line. If she misses a shot, she has to start all over and won't leave until she completes the set.
"I don't say anything out loud," said Westview coach Lindsay Strothers, who waits for Nared to finish before locking up the gym. "But in my head, I say, 'Geez Jaime, I have to go home.' "
All jokes aside, Strothers loves Jaime's work ethic and said it's rubbing off on her teammates.
Westview hasn't won a state title since 2000, when 6-6 Kara Braxton, who is now in the WNBA, was one of its stars.
Jackie said Westview "never got close" to winning state during her tenure at the school, but the Wildcats finished second in 2012 and fourth last year with her little sister in a starring role.
I want to be around a group of coaches and players who put in the work to win.Jaime Nared
Olivia Williams, a rising senior guard at Westview who has known Nared since sixth grade, said her buddy is a terrific leader.
"I've met a lot of players, but Jaime is one of the hardest workers I've ever known," Williams said. "She does extra shooting, even on weekends, and that has a domino effect on the rest of us.
"We all kind of look to her as our leader. She's good at it because she leads by example, but she also gives us constructive criticism and inspirational talks. She lets us know she believes in us."
Williams said Nared is also one of the funniest kids around.
"She has this one distinct dance move that she will do when she is excited," Williams said. "It's a shoulder thing she does. And she will talk in a funny voice at random times. It's a Jaime thing."
Nared, who is a big fan of the comedian Kevin Hart, said her brand of comedy is different.
"I think," she said, "most people laugh at me and not with me."
Nared, though, is serious when she has to be, and she knows picking a college will be the toughest decision she has ever made.
Strothers said every Pac-12 and Big Ten coach is after Nared.
"I'm going to wait until I narrow it to five and then take official visits," Nared said.
Nared is good friends with last year's stellar class of Oregon players who signed with major colleges -- Mercedes Russell and Jordan Reynolds at Tennessee and Kailee Johnson at Stanford.
They all played AAU ball together for Team Concept.
"I've known Kailee since I was in the third grade, Jordan since fourth grade and Mercedes since my sophomore year," Nared said. "Kailee, Jordan and I were the 'Big Three.' And when Mercedes arrived, we were the 'Fantastic Four.' "
"I'm proud of those girls. They all made great decisions [on college.] But it won't affect where I go."
Nared, who is interested in studying communications, said she wants a school that will provide a good education. She also prefers a sunny climate.
She said the relationship with the players and coaches will be vital.
"I want to be around a group of coaches and players who put in the work to win," she said. "All coaches say they want to win. But I think I'm pretty good at reading people. That's why visiting campus is so important."
And that's why it will take a lot more than a fly-by wave to get this recruit to sign.