Desert Dessert

Arguably the most skilled "big" in the nation, Kayla Pedersen prepares for a critical summer during which she'll be one of the country's most recruited players. The 2007 forward from Arizona already has a narrowed list of 10 schools she is examining...


Kayla Pedersen of Mesa, Ariz.

Kayla Pedersen, the 6'4" forward from Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Ariz. is arguably the most skilled "big" in all of high school basketball. She shoots, handles, passes, defends, rebounds, leads and is an altogether gym rat.

After a season during which the 2007 Top 10 prospect led her team to the Arizona 5A State Championship game and won the state's MVP award from both major newspapers she finally took a break, albeit a week, before joining her club team the Arizona Elite in preparation for what could be the most important club season of her young basketball career.

Pedersen has narrowed her list of schools down to 10: Arizona State, Duke, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA and USC. She's been on unofficial visits to all but three - LSU, Ohio State and Tennessee. That should change this offseason and she's made a trip already this spring out to Duke, visiting just before the start of the NCAA tournament.

Kayla Pedersen
"(The visit) was just great," said Pedersen. "I got to hang out with the girls, talk with the coaches and go on a tour of the campus."

Pedersen loves to be challenged and is a tireless worker. One thing she was keyed into on the visit was the intensity in which the Blue Devils practiced and played.

"I got to see one practice. It was way different than high school," said Pedersen. "I like the intensity and how tough the coaches were on the players."

Growing up in the desert, it's easy to assume that she'd prefer to be in a hot climate but that's not necessarily the case. "(Durham) was beautiful and the campus," added Pedersen, "It's actually green there."

Last spring Pedersen was focused on adding range and shooting off the dribble. She's a legitimate three-point shooter now and her confidence is growing with every rep shooting off the dribble. She's still deadly from the low box with great pivots and a sweet turn around jumper so it seems that the sky's the limit for Pedersen.

Pedersen has been invited to the 2006 Nike Girls Skill Academy; she'll be playing this month in Tempe at the Arizona Elite Classic in the first viewing period of the year. After that she'll be playing in the End of the Trail Tournament (Oregon City, Ore.), one of the nation's top viewing tournaments, in early July, as well as several other tournaments.

Chris Hansen is the National Director of Scouting for Women's Basketball at and Chris leads the panel that evaluates and ranks girl's basketball prospects nationally for HoopGurlz, and Full Court Press ( Chris has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. He can be reached at

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