Deja Strother was told to aim high when it came to setting personal goals for the 2014-15 basketball season.
Like being selected to the elite McDonald’s All-American girls basketball team.
Strother, a 6-foot-4 senior at Inglemoor in Kenmore who has committed to Washington, achieved that goal Wednesday as one of only 24 girls nation-wide named to play in the 14th annual game.
“It’s kind of shocking to me,” Strother said Thursday, noting she heard about the selection on Twitter Wednesday as she missed the live television broadcast while in a tutoring session. “It’s really exciting. I’m so happy. It’s really nice.”
Strother is the only player from the state of Washington – girl or boy – to make the cut and she is in rare company. She is only the fifth Washington girl to earn the honor since the girls game was added in 2002 and first since Katie Collier of Seattle Christian High School in 2012. The others are Kirsten Thompson of Monroe (2005), Angie Bjorklund of University of Spokane (2007) and Ashley Corral of Prairie (2008).
This is the 38th anniversary of the McDonald’s All-American boys game.
Strother averages 17.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks for Inglemoor, which is ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 4A.
She exploded onto the national AAU scene last summer with Tree of Hope and it was coach Damien Young who told her she should set her sights on earning the All-American honors.
“That’s what I really strived for that whole summer season,” Strother said. “I pushed for that.”
She led Tree of Hope to the championship game of the Nike Nationals and was named MVP, even though the team wound up second.
Strother said Inglemoor coach John Augustavo also encouraged her to strive for the honor during the high-school season.
“I knew it was a really big deal and a really high honor, one of the highest achievements you could achieve,” she said.
Strother said was pleased to simply be nominated. Augustavo said her selection is justified.
“It’s a heck of an honor, it really is,” Augustavo said Wednesday. “She’s been dominant out there.”
The girls and boys games will be played April 1 at the United Center in Chicago.
Washington posted a story about it with comments from women’s coach Mike Neighbors, which you can read here.
Find the full list of players selected (girls and boys) here.
For the complete list of former McDonald’s All-Americans, go here.
You can read about the selection process here.