The old adage in basketball is that you can't win the big games without great guards, and that is certainly true in women's collegiate hoops where great guard play on both ends of the floor can be the difference between a good and great team. If your guards are good in the women's game, you can put so much pressure on an opponents' offense or make it so difficult for a defense to defend, which can greatly affect the outcome of the game.
Whitney Hand, a 6-foot-1 guard from Argyle Liberty Christian, Texas, is considered one of the top players in the country for 2008 and many feel she is the best shooting guard in the country. Hand says despite her length she has always been a guard.
"My dad has kind of kept me at the guard position. He doesn't want me to get stuck underneath," said Hand. "I have been kind of raised playing guard and I didn't play post until I got into high school actually. I have to admit it is nice being a tall guard. It is different and you don't see it very often, but it is going to help me in the long run when I get to college."
Hand has been a known commodity for some time in prep women's hoops, but even now when she is told she is one of the top preps in the country she finds it hard to believe.
"It is encouraging," said Hand. "I don't feel that way, so it is very encouraging and humbling just to know that I still have a lot of work to do before I get to the next level. It is just nice to know that people understand that I am working hard and I am getting better, but I am far from what I am going to be in the future."
Hand has led her two to a 32-2 mark at this point in the season. She has three more district games and she hopes four games in the playoffs, which would win her squad a state championship. Currently, Hand is averaging 23 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists per game. She set her career-high (45) during her sophomore year.
"I think my game is versatile and I have different strengths to take advantage of who is guarding me," said Hand. "I play the point right now and we get a lot of mismatches because there are not a lot of big players in high school ball anyway, and certainly not a lot of big guards in high school ball. I love basketball and I try to play it as hard as I can all the time. I like to shoot 3's, but who doesn't? When I am not hitting outside, I take it to the rim hard so it just comes down to the type of defense that I am playing against and what is working for me offensively."
Hand is a 47 percent shoot from 3-point range and and is hitting 81 percent percent of her free throws. At this point, Hand has received 25 offers and she wants to wait until after the season to announce her six finalists. You can bet that Oklahoma is going to be among the top six and one of her favorites.
"Oklahoma is definitely high up there," said Hand. "I respect the people at Oklahoma so much, and everything that the program stands for. Out of all the people that I have met from the various programs, they are probably my favorite group because it is just like a family there. I think that is very important."
What is most important to Hand about the schools as she works to make her decision?
"I think the normal things you think about in a program are important like — strength of the program, support from the fans. Style of offense is important, but maybe with me not the most important," said Hand. "I think when you look at the long run of your life it is the quality of education that I am going to get. School is not looked at as a job, but it is like a job. I want to be a doctor and I look at my situation as an honor to have that opportunity to pursue that dream.
"My academics are going to be a way for me to have success in my life. I am a family person and I have two little sisters, so I don't want to go too far away from home. But God will take me where he wants me to go. The people at each program will play a big part in my decision because I love people and I love relationships."
Hand admits she will major in pre-med and she wants to be some kind of surgeon. You can bet every school in the Big 12 has offered her and Stanford and USC are also expected to be players for Hands' services. However, one school that we know for sure that will have a chance to sign her is Oklahoma.
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