It seems like yesterday, when I first laid eyes on this kid with the money shot. The sweet jumper from about 15 feet away from the basket, would hit nothing but net.
She would dribble from the top of the key, change direction, switch hands, and then she was gone. Her competition did not know what hit them.
She was 11 years old at the time and playing at the Hylton Boys and Girls Club in Dale City, VA.
This dynamic performer is none other than current Lady Cavaliers star guard Monica Wright.
And now she has reached the collegiate ranks to proudly represent a distinguished women’s college basketball program.
Ms. Wright was heavily recruited coming out of Forest Park High School.
The list of the accolades she earned is well-deserved.
She made the varsity squad in her freshman year and led the Bruins in scoring in each of her four seasons.
Wright was the 2006 All-Met player of the year.
Her team played in three straight state championships, winning two of them, and she scored more than 10 points in 113 career games.
Every team she has played for has been the benefactor of her extreme talent. But what coaches revel in most is not her athletic ability alone. They also associate her success on the court with her tireless work ethic.
Former Forest Park Head Coach Chrissy Kelly (now coaching for South County) recalls how Monica reacted after a difficult loss, and was convinced she was the real deal.
During Monica’s senior season, she and her teammate missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity, and the Bruins ended up surrendering a late three-point shot to St. Mary’s (CA).
Forest Park lost 62-60.
“I remember after the game, that was the very first time Monica showed emotion,” said Kelly. “She understood the responsibility. From that point on, anytime she had a free moment at practice, she never sat down and chatted. She was at the line to shoot free throws.”
A coach can teach the fundamentals, but a coach cannot channel into a player’s desire. Wright is a hungry woman, and she needs to feed the animal that she has inside of her. She is not listening to her iPod or texting relatives before games.
She is out practicing that patented post up jump shot. It is her signature shot. Lady Cavaliers Coach Debbie Ryan still has to tell her to dial it down a notch. Wright is no rookie.
Even as a junior in college, she gives the game its maximum respect. Basketball, in its simplest terms, can be a mundane activity. It is not always a sexy sport to watch either.
Monica Wright makes the game of basketball fun to follow. You want to root for her, even if you do not care about Virginia women’s basketball.
Tonight’s game versus the No. 8 Maryland Lady Terrapins is going to be a showcase of how the Atlantic Coast Conference possesses the best quality of women players in the nation.
Wright is putting her 22 points per game scoring average to the test, as Maryland will counter with feisty senior guard Kristi Tolliver.
Tolliver averages 17.4 points per game respectively to lead her team. Maryland’s record is 16-3 (4-1 ACC). Virginia’s record is 16-4 (2-3 ACC).
Whoever wins gets the bragging rights in this battle in the beltway.
As a Terps fan, I will wish for a great game, a turtle victory, and that Monica scores 25 points.
See you in the stands.
Maryland forward Lonetta Kizer (Potomac VA High School) was a four starter, and earned player of the year honors in two straight seasons.
She is currently a freshman, averaging 12.1 points and 25.7 minutes a game for the Lady Terps.