Monday, November 2, 2015

Books And Buckets With: Maya Klein, St. Luke's (CT)

Coursing through St. Luke High sophomore guard Maya Klein's veins is a steady supply of adrenaline-fueled competitive juices.

Her competitive nature has always been there.

 By age six, Klein rifled through competition with such ease, the only choice was to have her play against the boys.

With Klein being the lone girl in all-boys recreation leagues and pickup games, many made the mistake of freezing her out.

Rather than shying away or becoming frustrated, Klein got open and demanded the ball--without a hint of hesitation.

 All it took was a couple of swishes and back-to-back straight-away three-pointers, now her forte, to garner respect.

Since then, the gritty and sharpshooting guard has made hoops her heart, livelihood, and true labor of love.

"The most intriguing quality of her game is definitely her set shot and Maya can stick it from 3-point territory and deeper," explained Aldo Redendo, the founder and head player development director of New York Pride AAU.

"Her ball-handling has increased tremendously. Now she can score off the dribble, she can drill the pull-up jumper. She can shoot over multiple defenders.

She's responsive to everything. You tell her to work on something, she's in the gym the next day 20 minutes before practice working on it. She's a kid who really has a natural desire to succeed."

At St. Luke's, Klein grew up before her profile blew up. Since St. Luke's runs from fifth to 12th grade, Klein had the freedom to play meaningful minutes as an eighth grader.

Seizing the reins of the offense as a freshman, she averaged 16.3 points while piloting the perimeter game.

Softball was initially one of Klein's favorite sports, once even on the same plane as hoops.

Once she bought into the philosophy of "ball is life," an oft-repeated mantra of hers, her mentality changed.

Klein On Her Game And Identity As A Player

I think most people think of me first as a shooter, because I developed into a good shooter at an early age. But I have been working hard on being able to score from anywhere on the floor. 

The midrange step back has become a strong aspect of my game because it creates the space to get my shot off. And I'm becoming much more aggressive driving the lane.

On Team Goals And Her Role

Last year we were a step away from winning the FAA (Fairchester Athletic Association) championship, and we were excited to make it to the finals, but this year we would be disappointed if we don't win it all. As for me, because of the lack of upperclassmen on my team, I think my teammates and coach will expect me to step up as a leader and mentor the rookies on the team.

On Finding Basketball And Her Influences

 As a kid I basically played every sport you could imagine, but basketball always stuck with me.

 I liked the speed of the game and the way it's played as a team, and this passion never left me. Like every kid, growing up, I wanted to be Lebron James. 

He's a powerhouse in every aspect of the game. But as I got older i started to really admire Steph Curry, not because he's a great shooter, but because he is a dynamic player who can create shots for himself and his teammates by creating space.

On Academics

My current gpa is a 3.6 out of 4.0. This year, I'm trying to get my gpa up to a 3.7 or 3.8. Hopefully chemistry won't stop me from achieving that! My favorite class at St. Luke's is definitely Algebra 2 with Mrs. Cortes. She's such an amazing teacher.

 She is so passionate about every problem we do and it makes me excited as well.

On Activities, Community Service

I volunteer as a youth basketball coach, where I work with young girls that are interested in developing basic basketball skills.

 I really enjoy working with young kids, and teaching them basketball skills, but also sportsmanship and how to work as a team. For this reason, I work as a basketball specialist during the summer at Long Ridge Camp. I also play softball on the varsity team at my school, and I really enjoy that as well. 

Of course, I have all the other interests of a teenage, like watching Friends reruns, American Horror Story, Gossip Girl and hanging out with friends.

On The Most Influential Figure In Her Career

There has been no one person that been the most influential, because there are so many people that have helped me and supported me along the way. 

My family has always been there for me and helped me out, and many coaches including my school coach Greg Thomas, my AAU coach Brian Kriftcher and my trainers Craig Austrie and Aldo Redendo.

 They have all added different skill sets to my game, and I cannot thank them enough for their efforts and support.

On Three People She’d Love To Take To Dinner

Tough question. I would have to say Steph Curry, Nicki Minaj and Drake. There would never be a dull moment!