Lindy La Rocque this past winter enjoyed her best ever season of high school basketball, individually and as a team. The Las Vegas (Nev.) Durango High School junior was just a shade off averaging a triple-double, and the Trailblazers blazed to a nearly perfect season and path headed deep into the state tournament. Then it all came crashing down.
"It was kind of a weird season," La Rocque begins. "We had a good team. We were 27-3. Except, we had to forfeit every single game that we won. We didn't even end up making the playoffs because that happened the week before playoffs. Our state has these rules, and a couple of girls were out of our [attendance] zone. They were playing illegally, but no one knew. We didn't even know."
"It was devastating because we had a really good team," she laments. "If we had a chance to win state, it was probably this year. We had some senior girls who were really good, and they really wanted it. We had a couple sophomores who were really good and a freshman who's good. It was really disappointing. That kind of sucked."
Despite the sudden ending for her school, La Rocque still earned acclaim for her play. She was named region MVP and First-Team All-State. The 5'8" point guard averaged 24.5 points, 8 assists and 9 rebounds per game, also setting the all-time career scoring record for boys or girls basketball at Durango. A prolific shooter and scorer throughout her high school career, La Rocque has hit 10 three-pointers in a single game. But she is more proud of her other stats that left her on the brink of a season average triple-double.
"I was really proud of that," she says. "My school has never been good at girls basketball, and my freshman year we turned the program around. I've been able to score and do all that kind of stuff since my freshman year. My sophomore year I brought up my assists... This year I really wanted to get into the rebounding category. I think that's what I did this year. I became more of an all-around player and not just a scorer and passer. I became like a Jason Kidd type of player. That's what I took pride in. There were games where I had more assists than points, or more rebounds than assists."
As a breakout freshman, La Rocque averaged a clip of 19 points per game as a one-dimensional scorer. Her sophomore year, she added passing skill to her game and averaged eight assists while scoring 22 ppg. This winter she notched nine rebounds per game, while still dishing eight assists and scoring 24.5 ppg.
La Rocque has a sweet shooting stroke, both from the perimeter and standing at the free throw line. She piled up a lot of points at the charity stripe, fouled on drives to the basket and hitting 91 percent free throw shooting. Most of her scoring came outside the three-point arc, where she ripped the nets at a 42 percent clip.
"It's my greatest asset," La Rocque comments on her three-point shooting. "It's not the only thing I can do, but it's what I do best."
That ability is a big reason why the California-based West Coast Elite travel club has added the Las Vegas shooter to their arsenal this season. La Rocque played previous summers with the Las Vegas Stars and TBA Sharks, both lower profile AAU teams whose talent, exposure and opportunities paled in comparison to what La Rocque now has playing as part of the high-octane outfit with the likes of Kelsey Bone, Monique Oliver and Briana Gilbreath.
"I'm the token white girl, I guess you could say," La Rocque laughs. "They're all athletic black girls who can do a lot of things that I can't do, but I can do some things that no one on the team can do. That's shoot it. I love all the girls to death, but they can barely make a free throw. I'm not knocking them or anything because they'll probably tell you that, too. So I am kind of like a designated shooter."
With the departure of one of West Coast Elite's point guards, La Rocque has also added duties as a combo guard/second point guard. The Las Vegas standout and her new teammates played their first tournament of the April evaluation period in Virginia at the famed Boo Williams Invitational. Like her high school season, misfortune again struck La Rocque when she broke the thumb on her right (shooting) hand. The play took place directly in front of Stanford assistant coach Charmin Smith, sitting on the front row to take in the action.
"At the moment, I knew it was hurt kind of bad," the recruit remembers. "I'm pretty good with pain. If it's bruised, if it's sore or whatever, I just tape it up and play. It happened at the last minute of our second game that day. It immediately was swollen and black and blue. I was like, 'Whatever. It hurts. Something is wrong with it, but I came all the way out here to play.' I taped it up and played the next two games. Coach Tara [VanDerveer] was actually at those next two games. I didn't play as much because of my thumb, but I still played and did fairly well. It was a fun tournament, but I haven't played since then."
"Those next two games I taped it up and played, it was kind of sad not really being able to do the thing I love to do: shoot," she bemoans. "I still shot, kind of an adrenaline thing. I tried to play through it, but it hurt so bad that it was hard to do well."
The injury could not have come at a worse time. On the biggest stage of April, when college coaches from across the country were in attendance to watch, La Rocque was marginalized as a one-handed guard. Moreover, she missed the rest of the evaluation period. The upbeat youngster, however, found a silver lining in the injury.
"From the coaches who I talked to who were there, it's known that I broke my thumb," La Rocque explains. "It's kind of weird because it kind of helped me. I've had so many coaches tell me, 'I can't believe you played through it. That just shows us how tough you are.'"
"At this point in the whole recruiting process, they kind of know how good you are," she adds. "So I don't think it was too bad."
College coaches cannot watch La Rocque again until the July period, but she is anxious to return to the court as soon as possible with her new AAU team. After her doctor gave her the go-ahead Wednesday morning to resume shooting and handling a basketball, she hit the gym that evening for an extended shooting session
"It was the first day I can shoot, so that's what I did," she says. "Even from shooting the first day, my whole arm is weak because I haven't done that shooting motion in three weeks. But I'd rather that happen now than in July, when every week is recruiting. I'd rather it happen now and get rested up and be good by July."
Up next: the college recruiting story of Lindy La Rocque...
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