SHS senior makes history, earns All-American nod

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SHS senior makes history, earns All-American nod

Myers is one of two players, boy or girl, to represent Ohio in the 2018 McDonald's All-American Game.

Myers is one of two players, boy or girl, to represent Ohio in the 2018 McDonald's All-American Game.

Courtesy of @LadyComets on Twitter

Myers is one of two players, boy or girl, to represent Ohio in the 2018 McDonald's All-American Game.

Courtesy of @LadyComets on Twitter

Courtesy of @LadyComets on Twitter

Myers is one of two players, boy or girl, to represent Ohio in the 2018 McDonald's All-American Game.

Jake Novack, Writing Editor

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Solon High School girls basketball phenom Valencia Myers made history on Jan. 16, becoming the first ever SHS Comet to be named a McDonald’s All-American. On March 28, Myers, along with 23 other high school standouts from across the nation, will head to Atlanta to compete in the McDonald’s All-American Game on national television. The All-American award, which was first awarded to girls in 2002, is possibly the most prestigious accolade a high school basketball player can receive. Past girls recipients have included multiple WNBA players, and past boys winners include NBA legends Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

For Myers, her reception of the honor came through a Twitter post. According to Myers, the McDonald’s All-American account initially posted the list of nominated players, and then the Ohio Girls Basketball Report (OGBR) account added her on Twitter with a congratulatory message.

“It all happened on my phone,” Myers said with a chuckle.

If anyone deserves the award, it’s Myers. Given the heralded “five-star” designation for standout high school athletic prospects, Myers is ranked as the sixth overall player at her position in the nation by ESPN, and the 40th overall prospect. Standing at 6-foot-3, Myers dominates the paint, which is one of the reason’s she’s graded a 97 out of 100 by ESPN. Even with these accolades, Myers said she’s still focused on expanding her game.

“I started off as a post player, but now I’m learning to run the floor better and shoot more and extend from a four into a five,” Myers said.

High-level competition, like she’ll face in March, is nothing new for Myers. She’s been playing top-level Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) ball for years, and she also represented the United States as a member of the U-16 team in 2015. In fact, Myers said that through AAU, she’s been facing top recruits since middle school.

“In the eighth grade, I was playing against juniors who were going to places like UConn, Baylor and Texas,” Myers said. “My whole life, I’ve been preparing for the opportunity to play for the USA and become a McDonald’s All-American.”

Myers has been a part of the national girls basketball scene for a while now, but her success as a Comet is undeniable. With Myers as a member of the squad since her freshman year, Solon has reached the state Final Four in two of the past three seasons. SHS assistant girls basketball coach Sean Fisher attested to Myers’ impact on the team’s success.

“Obviously, we’ve had a lot of good players over the last several years, and we have a lot of good players on this year’s team, but it always helps when you have a center of [Myers’] size and ability,” Fisher said. “She’s a very unique player, and you don’t get to coach somebody like her very often. Every team has to gameplan for her, and she makes everybody else’s job a lot easier.”

Besides displaying her prowess on the hardwood, Fisher said that he thinks Myers has adjusted to the attention she’s received throughout her career and used it to become a leader for Solon.

“When you’re as good and as big as [Myers] is, everyone knows who you are from the time you’re very young,” Fisher said. “It presents some unique challenges to her, but I think that she’s finally grown into the role of a leader on our team. I’ve seen her progress quite a bit over the last four years, to the point where she’s somebody that’s very much a leader for our team and plays a big role in helping the younger kids see the right way to do things.”

Off the floor, Myers has also helped to build strong chemistry within the team. Senior teammate Gabby Brown-Mitchell explained that Myers is quick to bond with her teammates.

“She’s very fun, she’s very sociable and she’s very loud,” Brown-Mitchell said. “She’s definitely energetic and outgoing and someone that’s just very fun to be around.”

Beyond her sheer talent, Brown-Mitchell said that she thinks Myers also deserves to be recognized for her large presence on the Solon team.

“She’s worked very hard, and I know she’s been there for me through difficult times,” Brown-Mitchell said. “She’s just a great teammate and a great leader. Even though at times she needs to be picked up, she’s still someone that’s an amazing person to have as a teammate.”

When her high school career comes to a close, Myers will take her talents to Tallahassee and join the Florida State University Seminoles. At FSU, she’ll join a recruiting class that ranks in the top five nationwide and includes star players such as sixth overall ESPN prospect (and fellow McDonald’s All-American) Izabela Nicoletti. For Myers, the opportunity to play for head coach Sue Semrau sealed the deal.

“It was between Florida State and UCLA, and I found out I wasn’t sure if the coach was really for me at UCLA,” Myers said. “I found out that I loved the head coach [at FSU] and that everything would be fine.”

As Myers puts the finishing touches on a decorated high school career, she stresses the importance of mental toughness to girls looking to follow her lead.

“You always have to have a good attitude,” Myers said. “For me personally, if I miss layups or my teammates make bad passes to me I shut down, but you can’t do that. You have to continue to push through, and if you’re missing layups, keep shooting. Eventually, it will go in the basket.”

The 2018 McDonald’s All-American Game will be held in Philips Arena in Atlanta on March 28. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

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