Shoni Schimmel: Native American Superstar
It's safe to say that University of Louisiville freshmen superstar point guard Shoni Schimmel is one of the best female basketball players in the country. Period. The above video is of Schimmel in high school, when she was being written about by EPSN, who likened her exploits on the court to basketball legend Pistol Pete Maravich, and was heavily recruited by major basketball powerhouses. This is the typical refrain from a sports writer who has watched Shoni ply her trade, and again, this was an ESPN writer, Glenn Nelson, writing about a high school basketball player: She conjures visions of Pistol Pete -- that's what everyone says about Shoni Schimmel. Just watch her come cold off the Hermiston High School bench, spin off the dribble and cause a pair of defenders to tumble like bowling pins. Then, with the defenders sprawling, watch Schimmel raise up, five feet beyond the 3-point line, and bury a jumper. Pistol, all right. Pistol with a ponytail. And the thing is, Nelson's not blowing this out of proportion. She really is that good. She's so good, in fact, even her teammates cop to being in awe of her. “We'll be sitting in the team computer lab looking at Shoni YouTube clips, and she'll walk in,” junior Becky Burke said to the Courier-Journal . “It's a little embarrassing that we're YouTubing one of our teammates." The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, who covers the U. of Louisville team, recently published the gushing, three page profile of the no-look, behind-the-back passing, three-point bombing basketball wizard. She is one of only a few Native American female basketball players in the college ranks, yet she says growing up on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in eastern Oregon (Cayuse, Umatilla, Walla Walla) provided her with the best possible basketball apprenticeship one could ask for. “There's so many Native Americans that coulda-shoulda-woulda but didn't do anything,” she said. “It's almost sickening how much talent is (on the reservation)," she told the Courier-Journal. “I am very proud of who I am and where I came from, but I wanted to be one of the ones that made it out. My job is to play basketball, and I love doing it." Rez-ball inspires creativity and passion on the court, something Schimmel displays now on the college ranks, against top flight competition who wear Kentucky blue or Ohio State scarlet and gray. All the freshmen has done this season is come in at second on the team in scoring at 15.8 points a game and lead the Big East Conference in assists with 5.7 per game. Her free-wheeling, no-look dealing style is putting her Louisville team on the national map, raising awareness of female college basketball, and challenging anyone who believes that woman's basketball isn't as exciting as men's. This past December, Schimmel's Louisville Cardinals team upset perennial powerhouse Kentucky, with Schimmel dropping 26 points on them. She's attracting casual fans to the sport, people who never cared much for basketball until they saw her court. She was recently named the Big East Freshmen of the Week for her efforts. We're going to be following Schimmel-the-lady-pistol from here on out. You can read about Shoni's insane talent here, here, and here, and watch her story on video over at ESPN here. Oh and there's a documentary that features her going on Discovery's TLC network that you can read about here.