Déja Strother has Inglemoor thinking big | Girls Basketball
At 6 feet 4, sophomore Déja Strother of Inglemoor is already head and shoulders above most high-school opponents, with room for her game to grow.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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KENMORE — Déja Strother stands tall. Really tall.
There's no slouch in her posture, no slink to her walk.
Strother embraces every inch of her 6-foot-4 frame on and off the basketball court, where she has fourth-ranked Inglemoor High School dreaming big this season.
"I like being tall," she said.
Except, of course, when it comes to buying clothes. With a 39-inch inseam, jeans and dresses are impossible to find at the mall.
"I do a lot of online shopping," Strother said.
Her mother, Michelle Leonard, has become an expert at it. Her daughter's jeans come from Afghanistan. The Homecoming dress was sent from China. Déja will buy petite yoga pants, roll them up and wear them as capris.
"She's lucky she has a creative mom," said Michelle, an executive assistant at Boeing who stands 5-11.
And fortunate that her father is a 6-5 former player who taught her the importance of rebounding, and free throws, at a young age.
"Déja was always born to be a post player," Mark Strother said. "She's a female version of Shaq, with free throws. She can shoot 80 percent from the free-throw line."
And she's touted as the next big thing in girls basketball — and not just because of her height.
"In the next year or two, she'll be one of the top-20 kids in the country in her class," said Damian Young, who coached her with the top Tree of Hope club team last summer.
Several years ago, Young helped groom 6-3 Regina Rogers, who went on to play at Washington.
"Déja's every bit as talented as Regina, if not more," he said. "She just hasn't reached it yet. When she puts her mind to it, the kid can play. ... She's incredibly strong and has the best hands. Her hands are incredible. Throw it anywhere in the vicinity, and she's going to catch it."
Young raves about Strother's rebounding and blocking abilities as well as her rocket outlet passes that can fly the length of the court.
Strother started playing organized basketball at age 5 and the following year began working with Wes Williams, an AAU coach who also heads the Kamiak High School girls program.
"She's the real deal," Williams said. "For the next three years, she's going to be a force around here."
In Inglemoor's first two games, Strother averaged 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks despite a foot injury that will cause her to sit out this week's games.
Inglemoor coach John Augustavo calls her a "program changer."
Strother said she likes being tall in part because it gives her confidence.
"I think basketball played a huge role in that," her mother said. "Being a 6-4 girl is not easy."
Strother insists she wouldn't want it any other way.
"I'm proud of who I am," she said, sitting tall in a chair. "I don't see any reason I shouldn't be."
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