Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis named POY
"The incomparable" seems destined to be a permanent honorific for Maya Moore, the woman with almost as many Wade Trophies (three) as career losses (four) at the University of Connecticut. Yet, the moment she steps on the campus at Storrs, Conn., Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis will be expected to, if not replace Moore, at least be comparable to her.
Once it was unthinkable to expect Moore to fill the void left by Diana Taurasi.
But she did.
Is it asking too much of Mosqueda-Lewis?
Well, today, the senior from Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) is more than comparable. She is ESPN HoopGurlz's high school player of the year for 2010-11, and is the first to ever earn the honor in consecutive seasons.
Mosqueda-Lewis also leads the ESPN HoopGurlz High School All-America Team, which also includes:
Like Moore once was, Mosqueda-Lewis is the No. 1 ranked prospect in her class. She also led Mater Dei to consecutive national No. 1 team rankings. That's something Moore never did. They both have a single Joe Smith (top) bracket championship at the Nike Tournament of Champions, as well as one Nike Nationals title.
As a senior, Mosqueda-Lewis averaged 22 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 2.5 assists, while shooting 48.5 percent from the field, 41 percent from 3-point range and 87 percent from the foul line. The 6-foot scoring machine also re-wrote much of the Mater Dei record book, taking over as No. 1 in career threes (337), points (2,744) and rebounds (872). Her 23.2-point average in 2009-10, 87-percent free-throwing shooting in 2010-11 and 116 threes in 2010-11 set school season marks, and her nine threes during 2010-11, 41 points in 2008-09, 28 points in a half during 2008-09 and 19 points in a quarter in 2009-10 and 2010-11 set single-game standards.
During Mosqueda-Lewis' tenure, all Mater Dei did was win. The Monarchs were 123-7 during her four years, including 98-3 the last three. All the while, they played all over the country, adopting one of the toughest schedules of any team.
Though they won at similar rates and scored at similar clips, Moore and Mosqueda-Lewis are very different players.
A true Southerner, Moore drips with humility and reveals her claws when the moments are most tense and the stakes are highest. A Southern California girl, Mosqueda-Lewis becomes unflappable on the floor, but has more of the kind of edge you'd expect from a superstar-level presence.
Moore is elastic and long, explosive and has that uncanny balance. Mosqueda-Lewis is powerfully built, stronger inside and a more natural shooter from distance.
Will they in four years be considered equals, or nearly so? They will be defined in terms of winning. Moore joined another No. 1 ranked prospect in Tina Charles. Mosqueda-Lewis will gain one in Breanna Stewart, a 2012 prospect from Syracuse, N.Y.
It's difficult to tell what the chemistry will be like. Moore and Charles battled, to the death, it sometimes seemed, during an epic championship game at the Nike Tournament of Champions. Mosqueda-Lewis and Stewart have been USA Basketball teammates.
It certainly will be another interesting ride.
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Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A graduate of Seattle University and Columbia University, he formerly coached girls' club basketball, was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of an online sports network, authored a basketball book for kids, has had his photography displayed at the Smithsonian Institute, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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