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Queen of the "Court": The Story of Courtney Vandersloot, Part I

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There's an old adage that simply states, "There's two sides to everyone."

And two pre-draft interview questions revealed two sides of Courtney Vandersloot, one the best point guards to enter the WNBA in quite some time.

"What can the team that drafts you expect out of Courtney Vandersloot?" I asked, perhaps expecting a standard response to a simple question.

"They can expect that I'm going to compete," the admittedly shy Vandersloot replied with a standard answer. "I'm really competitive and I really just love to play basketball. I love to win and I will just put everything into it and I'm a great teammate. I just want to be a part of team."

Although generic, it was a response truly becoming of someone who is known to be very humble, shy and modest. But to be honest with you, I expected a somewhat similar type of modest response to my follow-up question.

"Can they still expect the no look passes?"

"Oh yeah!" she responded with a passionate confidence.

To my pleasant surprise, there was no pausing, no indecisiveness, and no coyness that might otherwise characterize Vandersloot; in that reply she truly exhibited what makes her so great, so unique, and such a special basketball player.

Growing up in Kent, Washington, Vandersloot's love of the game was evident early on as her father Bill had to sign her up for a co-ed youth league because she was always playing with the guys.

"Well I started playing in first grade because the boys always played and I was always there with them," said Vandersloot. "So my dad signed me up for the YMCA, the co-ed league, and he was our coach and I was kind of pretty good right off the start. I was right up there with the boys and I kind of just kept going and my dad coached me until 7th grade.

"At that point, he had never played basketball or anything before. And he'll tell you, I kind of outgrew him and his knowledge of the game and he wanted me to get better coaching from people that knew better."

Even though she started playing basketball at an early age, basketball was not the sport that was her primary focus.

"I didn't even know about AAU [basketball] because I was into soccer - soccer was my thing, I was pretty good," said a laughing Vandersloot. "I always thought I was going to play soccer."

But the days of becoming the next Mia Hamm would be put on hold. As the self-described "skinny" girl in high school started to hone in her skills, success soon followed. After building a strong relationship with her high school coach, Keith Hennig, Vandersloot's ability soon took off.

"I had a really good relationship with him, he's a great coach, he and his wife were the head and the assistant [coaches]," said Vandersloot. "And I just kind of connected with him and a couple of young players and we were pretty good, I think especially our junior and senior year. I played with a lot of talent and it helped me develop my game and it helped make me get better."

Pretty good is an understatement, her junior year; Vandersloot led Kentwood High to a 24-5 record and was named First Team All State. And while that's impressive, she did even better her senior year as she led Kentwood to a 28-1 record and a number 14 ranking in the country.

With that type of success, you might figure that many of the top programs in the country - especially in the Pac-10 - would have been fighting tooth and nail to sign her.

"A PAC 10 coach thought I was too small [to play in the PAC 10] but it didn't really bother me for some reason," said Vandersloot. "I was not really hurt by it or anything; I didn't have any negative feelings towards them, that's their opinion. I knew and I felt like if I was going to play college basketball, I would find somewhere that fit me, which I did."