DISTRICT HEIGHTS, Md. - Since Sierra Calhoun entered high school as a promising freshman at perennail Northeast power and national contender Christ the King in the Middle Village section of Queens last fall, her career has largely been an anomaly.
You only need the fingers on one hand to count how many freshmen have played on the varsity for the Royals in the last two decades. Yet Calhoun, the younger sister of highly-touted UConn recruit Omar Calhoun, saw time on the varsity team that advanced to New York State's CHSAA final, where it fell to eventual state Class AA champion Nazareth.
Speed ahead to now and Calhoun's game is advanced enough to the point where the Philadelphia Belles 17U Nike Elite team has the 15-year old criss-crossing the country playing some of the best AAU teams around.
As a point of reference, the Belles have brought up girls to the Nike Elite team in prior years, but it certainly is not a common practice. With that said, Calhoun appears perfectly comfortable with and against older players simply because it really isn't that new to her anymore after her first high school season.
"A lot of these girls are going high D1, so it's a nice experience playing up because you always get a lot of competition at these Nike tournaments," Calhoun said. "I think I'm getting more out of this level (of AAU) because of that competition. If I was playing with a lower group, it would be easier and I don't know if I'd be getting any better."
Calhoun has gotten a good amount of minutes for the Belles, who have simply rolled over the competition in Pool A of the Platinum bracket at the U.S. Junior Nationals in Washington, D.C. In three lopsided wins to this point, she has played her role of athletic pivot very well. She has used her 6-foot-1 frame and long wingspan to explode to the basket on a shot and haul in rebounds. She has also proven herself this weekend as a solid finisher inside of five feet.
Things will get interesting and maybe a little more difficult for Calhoun if and when the Belles finally do get tested. That may not come until the Platinum bracket playoffs open on Sunday evening with the Belles as the likely Pool A winner.
If nothing else, one thing is continuing to come into focus this weekend in D.C. While Calhoun may very well be the future of girls basketball at Christ the King, she may be steering towards the same fate with the Belles.