By Robert Wilson
Leake Academy rising senior point guard Miriam Prince, considered the top returning point guard in the MAIS and one of the best shooters in Mississippi, is known as one of the hardest working gym rats around, working on all phases of her game from shooting to ball handling to defense practically every day.
Prince’s improvement and constant drills has been put on hold for about six to eight weeks.
The 5-foot-8 Prince had surgery this week to repair a fracture in one of her lower legs, Leake coach Amanda Hatch said.
Prince is expected back mid-September. Leake starts full practices in late September and its season opener is in the Canton Academy Tournament in late October.
“Miriam was out a lot early this summer to rest her injuries but returned late June and showed out at the University of Alabama team camp, had a visit to Mississippi State, played well at the Jackson Academy camp until Wednesday (a week and a half ago),” Hatch said. “We could tell then she was in a lot of pain. After a visit with the doctor, surgery was scheduled this past week and it went great. She jokes about being bionic (after doctors put a rod in her leg during surgery). I know that as hard as Miriam works at everything else, she’ll really work at her recovery as well to be better than she’s ever been. Miriam knows what it will take for us to get back to the state and Overall championships with a chance to win, and she had her teammates have the desire to get there despite any obstacles, surgery included. She is surrounded by family and teammates who will support and encourage her as she recovers over the next several weeks.”
Prince – who was named the MAIS Class 5A Player of the Year – averaged 19.2 points, 4.9 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 0.5 blocked shots and led Leake to a 37-4 record last season. She shot 53.8 percent from the field, 33.5 percent from 3-point range and 71.6 percent from the free throw line. Prince scored a career-high 40 points against Simpson last season. It was the most points at Leake since Susan Byrd scored 56 in 1989.
Prince has scored 2,167 career points. If she matches last year’s point total of 787, she will finish with 2,954 career points. That would be put second in Leake history in career points, behind Susan Byrd, who scored 3,187 from 1986-90. Byrd ranks fourth among Mississippians in MAIS history in career scoring. A repeat performance this year by Prince in points would put her sixth in MAIS career points behind Teresa Hayman, who scored 3,006 points for Mississippi Baptist from 1979-1983 and is fifth.
“The sky is the limit for Miriam,” Hatch said. “She has the ball handling skills, scoring ability, court vision, defensive awareness, understanding of the game, and incredible work ethic that will really make her a great college player at one of the highest levels. Because of the time spends in the gym and the quality of work she puts in, Miriam has greatly improved each season, and I know she will only continue to get better and better.”
“Miriam is one of the best I’ve ever seen,” said Simpson coach Linda Dear, who has been coaching in public and private schools for a combined 27 seasons. “You take away the 3 and she kills you on the drive. I really enjoy watching her play…when she’s not playing against us. The thing I like best about her is her personality – always smiling. I love the kid. I know that I’m going to get a big hug before and after the game.”