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THE HOUSTON-AREA GIRLS BASKETBALL SCENE IS RICH IN TRADITION. MAYBE THE RICHEST IN THE COUNTRY.
What other city has had four WNBA No. 1 overall draft picks — Nneke Ogwumike (Cy-Fair), Chiney Ogwumike (Cy-Fair), Brittney Griner (Nimitz) and Charli Collier (Barbers Hill) — dating back to the beginning of the WNBA in 1997? None. The Houston Comets won the first four Championships in league history.
Houston is the epicenter of girls basketball.
As Rori Harmon and Kyndall Hunter of Cypress Creek head to the University of Texas this fall, the question begs...who is the next big thing?
Houston Christian combo- guard D'Asia Thomas is currently a nationally-ranked star in the Class of 2023 with college coaches all vying for her signature a year from now.
"When I was younger, I was always overlooked," the 6-foot-3 Thomas said. "If you would have told me I would be where I am today back then, I would have thought you were crazy. But I've put the work in from running hills, on the track, in the weight room and in the gym for countless of hours. It's all paid off."
When not dominating the SPC for the Mustangs, she plays in the summer with Cy- Fair Elite.
"I was pretty good in middle school and then I joined Cy-Fair Elite. They opened up my game tremendously and made me so much better. They put me on a much bigger platform." What makes Thomas special, is her versatility.
"In school ball, I play all five positions," she said. "If I need to play the point, I'll play the point. It's really helped me improve on my guard skills from shooting the three-pointer to seeing the open man to getting to the basket. I can always get a bucket.
"What I really need to concentrate on now is my defense," she laughs. "I don't love defense but that is going to take me where I need to go. I watch a lot of DiDi Richards (Cy Ranch, Baylor and New York Liberty). I play her position and she made her name playing defense."
The offers have begun piling up as she starts to whittle down her list of favorites.
"I like to watch Baylor and I've been to a few UH games, but it's starting to get really busy," she said. "I'm looking for a place where I can build a great relationship with the coaches and players, and is big on God. I'm looking for a second family."
For now, she's just a kid doing TikToks, fishing with her father, hanging with friends and family, watching Outer Banks and listening to 'Lil Baby.
On the court, however, Thomas can see her future.
"I want to be the best girls basketball player to ever come out of Houston Christian and get drafted in to the WNBA in five years," she said. "It will take more work, but I know I can get there."
Much like the ones before her.
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No. 7 Cypress Creek Cougars
It is a blank slate at Cypress Creek for Jennifer Alexander as she turns the page to the 2022 season.
The program that Alexander has built – entering her 13th season leading the Cougars – has been impressive. In the past four years, Cy Creek has been to the State Tournament three times and the last two finished as the Class 6A State Runner-Up.
Now, with zero starters returning as they lose Rori Harmon and Kyndall Hunter to the University of Texas, it is a new start.
But their motto says it all for 2022 - #CreekStillHere. The Cougars return first-team, all-district picks Krishawn Lee and Jasmyn Jackson off a squad that went 32-1 a year ago. Also back is second-teamer Danielle Ruffin.
Other names to remember includes Trinity Santasiero and Amari Chambers.
The keys to success for Alexander's crew include "Play as a unit – get the job done by committee" and "defend and rebound". They may have some new faces but by season's end, they could be the Cypress Creek we have all come to know.