Crowd pleaser

River Hill's Keisha Eaddy has been dazzling basketball audiences since she was 9.

December 07, 2005|By ALEJANDRO DANOIS | ALEJANDRO DANOIS,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Keisha Eaddy spent much of her childhood sitting in the stands, cheering on her brother, Davon Smith. Seven years younger than Smith, Eaddy watched hundreds of his basketball games, from recreation leagues through his varsity career at Oakland Mills.

She was more than just another face in the crowd, however. Eaddy internalized every pass, screen, drive to the basket, box-out and half-court trap.

It wasn't long before she was applying what she learned. When she was 9, in her first year of organized competition, Eaddy displayed skills beyond her years, as spectators quickly learned not to take their eyes off the diminutive playmaker.

"When we saw her play for the first time, everyone could see that she really stood out," said her mother, LaShavio Nas.

Now a senior at River Hill, Eaddy continues to dazzle crowds. The point guard is coming off a junior season in which she was named Howard County Player of the Year and first-team All-Metro after averaging 22 points, nine steals and four assists per game. She led the Hawks to an undefeated regular season and a 25-1 record.

Eaddy, 5 feet 6, already is the school's all-time steals leader, and she needs just nine assists to take over that record as well. She swiped a career-high 18 steals in her signature defensive performance last year against Long Reach.

"I enjoy every aspect of the game, but I'm a big fan of defense," Eaddy said. "My defense has always been the key to my offense."

That was especially true in games against Mount Hebron and Woodlawn last season. She scored 32 and 31 points, respectively, in those contests, often converting steals into easy layups.

During those games, Eaddy also scored by driving to the basket, hitting three-pointers and pulling up for mid-range jumpers.

"She controls the game like a coach on the floor," Woodlawn coach DeWayne Burroughs said. "Offensively, she drives to the basket with a lot of confidence and runs the offense the way it's supposed to be run with the passes she makes. As a defender, she anticipates the next pass and gets into the passing lane. She plays a complete game."

Eaddy, who has committed to Temple, has been making an impact at River Hill since she was a freshman. That year, the upperclassmen on the varsity welcomed Eaddy, nicknamed "Little Bit," with open arms.

"Keisha always gave us a spark during her freshman year," River Hill coach Teresa Waters said. "She came off the bench but played the rest of the game. We knew she was unique as a freshman, but her sophomore and junior years it all came to fruition."

One of Eaddy's best performances came in the Hawks' sole loss last season, to Milford Mill in the Class 3A state championship game. She was one assist shy of a quadruple double, but what the stat sheet did not convey was her fire and competitiveness.

"She gave her absolute all, maintained her composure and did so many things in that game," Waters said. "I felt like I could literally see her heart pounding."

Away from the gym, Eaddy is an introvert - quiet, shy and reserved. But when she laces up her sneakers and hits the court, her voice fills the gym.

She remains a student of the game, and has no use for a television unless a basketball game is on.

"Ivory Latta at the University of North Carolina is one of my favorite players," she said. "Her game is very similar to mine. She can create, shoot the shot and carry a team on her back."

She also names Nikki Teasley, Allen Iverson and Dawn Staley as favorites.

When Eaddy was being recruited, big-time programs in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten and Southeastern Conference did not stand a chance once Staley, the head coach at Temple, started appearing at her games.

Eaddy could not resist the opportunity to play for the former Olympian and WNBA star point guard, whose game she has admired for years.

"It means that I'm going to be learning a lot," Eaddy said of playing point guard for Staley's Owls. "There's nothing I can do but listen. She's done what I want to do. She's been where I want to go."

Before heading off to college, however, Eaddy has more work to do at River Hill. She said she will unveil new aspects of her game that she has been polishing since the Hawks' heartbreaking loss to Milford Mill.

Eaddy prepared for her senior year by competing against some of the best talent in the country this summer, including a few memorable duels with Towson Catholic's Marah Strickland, one of the top junior guards in the nation.

"When you work with a kid like Keisha, who eats, lives and breathes basketball, a kid with passion, respect and work ethic, it makes coaching so much more rewarding," Waters said. "Her talent is a gift from God."

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