Chasity Clayton part of Florida State’s balancing act

March 24, 2013

Headed into the ACC tournament, Florida State was the only team, among the 343 in Division I women’s basketball, with five double-figure scorers, among them senior forward Chasity Clayton, who played her first two high school seasons at O’Connell and her second two at Edison.

Chasity Clayton
Florida State forward Chasity Clayton was named the ACC’s sixth player of the season. (Chuck Burton/Associated Press)

This season Clayton, with 1,005 career points, became the first Seminole to be chosen the ACC sixth player of the year. She’s averaging 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and is shooting 50 percent from the floor.

Eighth-seeded Florida State (22-9), in the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in nine years, will face ninth-seeded Princeton (22-6) at 4:10 p.m. Sunday in Waco, Texas. If the Seminoles win, they likely will face Brittney Griner and Baylor in the second round.

I caught up with Clayton, a 2008 Edison grad, on the phone recently to run her through a series of questions related to her high school career.

Best high school basketball memory: “Making it to the [2007] state championship even though we lost by one [to Hampton]. Just the group of girls that I played with, how determined we were to get there again and win, how we wanted it for each other.” Edison lost by one to Forest Park in the 2006 state final.

Favorite high school gym other than Edison’s:T.C. Williams. It was almost like a rivalry game, and since they had Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and we had a bunch of Division I players, it was like everybody came to those games. The gym was full, the energy from our parents, family and friends.” Ruffin-Pratt was the two-time All-Met player of the year.

Favorite high school victory: “I forget the team, but we won like 120-20. What we focused on in practice we carried over and translated that onto the court for that game and it worked.”

Best player you faced in high school: “[Teammate] Doreena Campbell. Very knowledgeable. Not only was she very skilled but she knew how to put other people in successful positions.”

Best piece of basketball advice you got in high school: “Play hard or go home, from [assistant coach] Marcus McKinney. We understood it in a different language. When he said that, we all had to set goals not only individually but as a team.”

High school loss that stung the most: “I would say the state championship, Doreena Campbell’s senior year. We lost at the buzzer and my senior year losing against T.C. [58-48] was a big sting. Just the rivarly games you don’t want to lose, period.”

Piece of advice for high school players: “I would tell them to work on their skill development and make sure they individually have everything accurate from ball-handling to shooting to being disciplined in the fundamental things of basketball and being able to be a team player.”

What do you miss most about high school basketball: “I miss the love. I miss how much our coaches put into us not only as individuals but as a team to make sure we could be the best we could be, put us in a position to be successful. Just those little small things go a long way.”

The best thing about college basketball: “The places you get to travel, especially Thanksgiving tournaments, Christmas tournaments, experiencing other people’s cultures, sometimes maybe even a culture shock for some of us. We went to South Africa my freshman year and you would not know how blessed we are here in the United States.”

The worst thing about college basketball: “Managing your time. If you don’t manage your time well you’ll be behind in class, you’ll be behind in anything you have to get done.”

When you hear the words March Madness, what springs to mind: “Championship ring.”

Locals in NCAA tourney: Women | Men

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Eric Detweiler | March 23, 2013