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She Got Game

Played in the Adidas Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas, one of
prep basketball's leading summer events, Charde Houston, the
first female player in the tournament's nine-year history. The
6-foot guard, who was a second-team Parade All-America as a
junior at San Diego High last year, suited up for the EBO/EA
Sports team alongside stars such as DeMarcus Nelson (committed to
Duke) of Vallejo (Calif.) High, Dwight O'Neil (Fresno State) of
Washington Union High in Fresno and Lorenzo Wade (Louisville) of
Cheyenne High in Las Vegas. "I was surprised when she first
walked into the gym," said Nelson, "but I knew who she was. I
heard she can play."

So had EBO/EA coach Darren Matsubara, who consulted with
Houston's high school coach before inviting her to join some
5,000 other players in the 400-team tournament. Houston averaged
35.6 points per game last season and needs 771 points to break
Cheryl Miller's state record of 3,446 in a career. The week
before the Big Time, Houston was named MVP of the Adidas Top 10
Camp in Atlanta, the top summer camp for female players. And with
a 3.8 GPA and an 1,080 SAT score, she has a wealth of future
options. Coaches from UConn, Tennessee, UCLA, Texas, Kentucky and
Cincinnati attended her games at Big Time, as did a scout from
the WNBA's Indiana Fever. "In Atlanta I was a superstar," said
Houston. "Here I am just a player."

Wearing her lucky red patent-leather Tracy McGrady Adidas
shoes--which she only breaks out for big games--Houston played 28
minutes over four games and scored five points before her team
was eliminated. She was forced to play on the perimeter more than
she's accustomed to, but her quickness enabled her to hold her
own defensively. "It was something I wanted to try, and I'm happy
I did it," she said. "I know this is going to help me as I move
on to college. But it will also be nice to get back to playing
against girls." --George Dohrmann

COLOR PHOTO: ETHAN MILLER/LAS VEGAS SUN (HOUSTON) ONE OF A KIND Houston (dribbling) held her own as the only girlin a field of 5,000.