Life’s moving fast for Analyss Benally. Her senior year of high school recently started and she’s already committed to play Division I ball at San Jose State. She catches herself dreaming of playing in the NCAA Tournament for a coach who compares her ability to reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Steph Curry, of the Golden State Warriors.
Before that, however, the 17-year-old wants to earn First Team All-State honors and win a Kansas State 5A girls’ basketball championship.
No joke on the court, Benally is making a splash - Photo courtesy of Brian Benally
The Navajo, who stars at 5-1 Wichita Heights, knows what will be expected from her now and in the future.
"The thought of being a role-model excites me," Benally said. "I just hope I don't let my people down."
Benally leads the City League in scoring at 18.7 points per game for the Falcons, a dynasty in the state, having won four of the last 10 girls basketball championships.
Entering the season, her coach, Kip Pulliam, told Benally she needed to attack more. She has, scoring more than 8 points more per game than last season. And scouts have taken notice. She had recruiting offers from the three of the highest-profile programs closest to her hometowns of Shiprock, N.M. and Wichita, Kan. San Jose head coach Jamie Craghead said Benally possesses “NBA-range three-point ability,” in a press release.
"She can come off screens and shoot it, pull up in transition and get to the rim," Craighead said. "She scores many different ways. Some people can just shoot the ball and she is one of them."
Having an older sibling who’s played at the college ranks has been a great advantage, Benally told ICTMN. The reason her family relocated from Shiprock, N.M. was to support older sister Patience, who played at Kansas Wesleyan in Salina, Kan. The younger sister began attending Wichita Heights in high school, selecting No. 5 after Donovan McNabb, her father’s favorite football player.
The biggest key to Analyss Benally’s success, she says, is to never get too comfortable with any of your abilities, because, “If you're satisfied, you stop working at it.”
Follow ICTMN's Cary Rosenbaum on twitter @CaryRosenbaum