Sireece Bass started out her high school career in impressive fashion. As a freshman in 2002-03 she averaged 18.0 points, 10.0 assists, and 5.0 rebounds per game while leading Pershing to a 16-6 record. She did just as well the next year, averaging 15.0 points, 11.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.0 steals in leading Pershing to a 16-5 record. She was selected to the Nike All-American camp that summer, but while in Indianapolis she became very sick. Soon afterward she was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal tissue. Her problems were compounded when the lupus led to a bout with nephritic syndrome, a severe kidney ailment. The illnesses put her in so much pain that she could not play basketball during her junior year.
Life altering health troubles like those are a lot for anyone to take, but they were particularly tough for a 16-year-old star athlete. And that wasn't the only tragic event she had to deal with. In March her father, Timothy, died of cancer at age 42. "I was ready to quit everything," Bass told the Detroit News back in August. "My dad taught me a lot about basketball. Now, I dedicate everything I do to him."
What makes Sireece special is she didn't quit. With her lupus in remission and medication to help her deal with her kidney ailment, she went on to have a fantastic summer on the AAU circuit. She was also selected for the U.S. Junior Olympic Camp, and the Adidas All-American Camp. She did so well at Adidas that she was selected as one of the top 10 players in attendance.
"I didn't think I'd ever be able to come back and play at that level again," she said to the News. "I feel if I can make it though last year, then I can make it through anything."
Pershing stars Deshawn Sims & Sireece Bass
Michigan Women's basketball coach Cheryl Burnett set Michigan apart from the other schools on Bass' list by showing she cared just as much about the young athlete off of the court as she did on it. "While I was sick [the Michigan coaches] would call to see how I was doing," Bass recalled. "Back then I hadn't played a game at all, but Coach Burnett was still checking up on me to see if everything was alright. That meant that she cared more about me as a person then just a basketball player. Coach Burnett is the best coach I have ever met. There is never a time when she is not for her players. She is there for the ups and downs in your life, win or lose."
When looking at Bass' game you see a lightning quick point guard that can get to the bucket with the best of them, but is also capable of sticking the three. But when she talks about what she wants to do for the Michigan basketball team, she doesn't mention points, rebounds or steals. She feels her best asset is her ability to lead.
"My leadership skills are what separate me from other players," she explained. "Just to give a player a look to let them know we are in this together. That is what it is all about. I fear no one! It doesn't matter who we are playing. I just go out there and compete, and I don't back down from no one. That is how I want my teammates to be."
That Sireece still picked Michigan in spite of their disappointing season last year was surprising to some, but it shouldn't have been. When she entered high school she could have gone to Detroit King or any of the other top schools in the area, but she decided to lowly Pershing. There was a very good reason for that. "I am not afraid to fail," she said. "I am not afraid to go to a losing program. When I came to Pershing they had a losing program, but we turned it around and won a city championship. It is easy to go play with all-state girls and go out there and just dominate. The tough part is to get a group of regular girls to go out, play hard, and win. It just takes hard work. I hate to go to the gym and see someone not working hard or be in a game and a player doesn't want to dive on the floor for the ball. That makes me upset. I picked Michigan because I want to bring a program up. I want it to be said that Sireece Bass went to Michigan and helped them win a Big Ten championship. I could have gone to Purdue, Oklahoma or Temple, but I want to help build Michigan's program up."
All coaches fearlessness and toughness in their program, and in Sireece Bass, Cheryl Burnett has both. Determination is what drives her to continue to fight through the pain that she endures everyday. Her road may be tough, but with her will, she will reach her goals. She is everything that is right about high school basketball and collegiate athletics.