A left-hander for the Kamiak High School boys basketball team showed up on Curtis’ film.
“Lefty,” Curtis coach Tim Kelly announced as his team continued to break down the film.
“You got to push him opposite of where he wants to go,” Kelly said. “Make him go right.”
But what’s the big deal with being left-handed? Is there an advantage or disadvantage?
Either way, Curtis High School has plenty of love for lefty hoopsters. The school has become somewhat of a pipeline for them, even if only 10 percent of all people are left-handed.
Aushanti Potts-Woods is one of them. The two-time 4A South Puget Sound League most valuable player leads the boys team in scoring at more than 24 points per game.
So is Jalaiya Frederick, who is tied with Kaelin Williams-Kennedy at a little more than 11 points per game for the girls team. She is a short-statured (4-foot-11), southpaw point guard who wears No. 2.
Sound sort of familiar?
Isaiah Thomas wasn’t a bad little left-hander for Curtis, either.
Neither was Dom Robinson, a lefty point guard for Curtis’ 2013 state title team.
So what’s the secret behind these southpaws?
“It’s more so when you’re trying to guard them off of the dribble. Not so much the shot,” Kelly said. “It just confuses defenders.
I think there’s advantages to being left-handed, just because you don’t see that many.
Curtis boys basketball coach Tim Kelly
JALAIYA AND ISAIAH
Too often defenders will force Frederick to her left. It’s just natural.
“She’s like, ‘Thank you,’” girls coach Jackie Thomas said. “Then I’ll hear this shout from the other team’s coach: ‘She’s left handed!’ Then finally they start pushing her to her right.”
Isaiah Thomas set the example for Frederick, who said she sometimes converses with the NBA All-Star before or after games.
“I look up to him a lot,” said Frederick, a sophomore who also started on last year’s team, which lost to eventual state champion Gonzaga Prep in the regional round. “He showed that just because you’re short, (that) doesn’t mean you can’t go to state and be productive.
“People underestimate me because I’m so short. But I want to lead like Isaiah led.”
Curtis will play No. 4 Bothell at 8 p.m. Friday at Bellevue College in the 4A state regionals. It’s the Vikings’ second consecutive state tournament appearance after having just one appearance from 1986-2014.
Frederick has more in common with Isaiah than just stature and their dominant hand.
Jackie Thomas was a senior at Curtis when Isaiah Thomas was a freshman.
“She and I talk about him often. Like, he is her go-to,” Jackie Thomas said. “I say, ‘Think about I.T. What would I.T. do?’
The biggest thing between them is confidence. I remember when Isaiah was in the sixth or seventh grade and he was playing with the big boys at the YMCA, and he just had that confidence and swag. She has that confidence and swag on the court, too. She gives everything she has.
Curtis girls basketball coach Jackie Thomas
Kelly never had a player average more than 20 points per game before Potts-Woods.
DaVonté Lacy averaged 19.7 in his final season at Curtis before heading to Washington State University.
Kelly said Potts-Woods, with his quick trigger, is the best scorer he’s ever coached.
“He can score from a lot of places on the floor,” Kelly said. “When he takes shots, you think they are going in.”
Potts-Woods has scored 1,464 points in his three years of varsity (the school district didn’t use to allow freshmen to play varsity sports). He said he spent this past offseason studying, modeling parts of his game after Houston Rockets lefty James Harden.
Potts-Woods played the post during his sophomore year at Curtis, but the 6-foot-2 guard said he’s grown only about an inch since the seventh grade.
1,464Number of career points senior guard Aushanti Potts-Woods has scored at Curtis entering Saturday’s 4A state regional. He’s the only player Kelly has ever coached who has averaged more than 20 points per game in a season, the coach said.
“I stopped growing, and everybody caught up to me, so I had to work on my guard skills,” Potts-Woods said. “So I’ve added that on top of my post game. But I’ve played a lot of different positions.”
Potts-Woods was a freshman when Curtis won the state title in 2013.
He was out with an injury the following year when Curtis lost to Wenatchee, 59-58, in the regional round. Last year, Curtis lost to Union, 62-50, after leading by 10 points with less than 8 minutes remaining. Kelly still has that score and the time remaining (7:11) written on a sticky note on his classroom computer.
But the difference between the past two years and this year — Curtis plays Kamiak at 8 p.m. Saturday at Rogers High School — is that Curtis will have at least one senior for the first time since that state title team.
That includes Potts-Woods.
“I talk to my teammates about it all of the time — we have to win,” he said. “For a lot of us, this is our last year. So let’s make it our best year.”
So expect him and Frederick to play like they’d have nothing left this weekend – except, of course, for their dominant hand.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677