The last time I played organized basketball was at the middle school I attended in Southeast Portland. It was sort of a rough school, located right off 82nd Avenue. It wasn't Compton or West Baltimore or anything, but we did have a stabbing between 6th graders while I was there. My brother went there after me, and I'd get home from picking him up from school and ask my mom, "Was it that bad when I went there?"
"Pretty much," she'd tell me.
There were two great basketball players in my class. The first was Chris Sutton, who went on to become a star quarterback at Benson High before he was shot and killed in 1998.
The second was Shaquala Williams.
Advocates for women's basketball hail the superior fundamentals and team play. Maybe that's true, but Shaquala Williams didn't beat you that way. She was stronger, smoother, quicker and better. She wasn't particularly tall, shorter than me even, but she'd slash through three dudes and finish with a nice finger roll. Chris Sutton was the only kid who matched her athleticism, but she had the skills and she was a beautiful player to watch.
Shaquala had some behavioral issues, and bounced around some Portland-area high schools. After she graduated, she played at the University of Oregon for a while, but was kicked off her senior year. Still, she was drafted into the WNBA, and had a mediocre career.
Oregon has produced some great female ballers, but it looks like the best is yet to come. In particular, Jaime Nared, a twelve-year-old prodigy from Beaverton who was kicked off her boy's team for being too good. Awesome.