By Robert Wilson
First-year East Rankin coach Brooke Rhodes believes her 6-foot-2 sophomore forward Abigail Stevens has the potential to play college basketball.
Rhodes should know. She is considered one the best guards in MAIS history and played and coached college basketball before coming back to her alma mater this season.
Stevens showed her potential last week when she scored 26 points and grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds in a 61-54 victory at Lamar School in a key MAIS Class 5A, District 2 game in Meridian.
For her outstanding performance, Stevens has been named the Performance Therapy/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Girls Basketball Player of the Week.
Stevens, who scored a career-high 30 points against Canton Academy earlier this season, is averaging 15.1 points and 10.9 rebounds for East Rankin, which entered this week with a 12-8 overall record and 3-2 in district play.
Stevens might become the best player at East Rankin since Rhodes, who averaged 21.4 points and led East Rankin to a 35-2 record and the MAIS Overall championship for the first time in school history in 2010. She scored 35 points in the Overall championship win over Pillow and averaged 32 in three Overall games. Rhodes scored 2,568 points in her high school career. Rhodes played at Delta State and Southern Miss. She was an All-South Region selection in 2012 at DSU and 36.7 percent from 3-point range and 81.3 percent from the free throw line. As a team captain at Southern Miss, Rhodes helped the Lady Eagles to a 25-win season and a WNIT Elite Eight finish. She finished ranked second in Conference USA in 3-point percentage.
Rhodes coached at Central Arkansas, Jones Junior College, Presbyterian College and Western Carolina for a combined six years before deciding to come home.
Rhodes believes Stevens could follow in her footsteps and have success at the next level. She already has an offer from Mississippi College.
“I was proud of her performance against Lamar. Abigail played hard and really did a good job on the glass on both ends. Her teammates also did a great job on finding her on the block. She’s been good for us all year, but Tuesday night she was locked in on both ends of the floor and helped us to a good road win.”
“Abigail is a super athlete and you don’t see kids at her size being able to move and jump like she can and for a sophomore, she really has a good knack for knowing where the ball is,” Rhodes said. “She can really elevate over people on the block and has great hands, which is a huge thing for a post player. Abigail has really worked and started to develop her outside shot too. With her only being a sophomore, the sky is the limit for her on how she will be able to score. She works hard on her own and will just continue to get better. Abigail has and will have really good teammates around her to keep pushing her.
In addition to having potential on the basketball court, Stevens is an outstanding softball player. A pitcher, she plays for East Rankin and select ball for the Tennessee Mojo. Rhodes said she has potential to play college softball as well. Stevens has been to several camps at SEC schools.
East Rankin plays host to Simpson in a Class 5A, District 2 game tonight at Pelahatchie.