The question, when posed to Trinity Catholic boys basketball standout Dominic Pugh, was a simple one.
What does Sydney James do best?
The answer given was even simpler.
“Sydney does everything,” Pugh said.
The numbers back him up.
A 6-foot sophomore forward, James averaged 20.3 points, 12.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 4.8 steals in the 2017-18 season for the District 5-5A champion Celtics, who finished 15-8. Those gaudy statistics helped earn her the Florida Dairy Farmers’ Class 5A player of the year award, as well as the nod for the Star-Banner’s girls basketball player of the year after a close race with Vanguard freshman guard Nasia Powell.
But Pugh said there is much more to what his friend brings to her team than what can be found in a box score, calling James “a great leader” and “a coach on the floor.” Someone who likely would know better than anyone else agreed.
“Sydney is an amazing talent who continues to get better because of her hard work and dedication,” Trinity coach Leroy Sims said. “The thing that sets her apart is she thinks like a coach, and, therefore, she is a great fit for any program and a blessing to ours.”
A big fan of Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, James spent the first 14 years of her life in Bergen County, NJ.
She went to a basketball camp as a kindergartner and began playing in her local CYO league as a third-grader. By the time she was in the seventh grade, an AAU coach saw her talent and asked her to play for a team with kids two years older.
Upon moving to Ocala in 2016, she continued playing basketball and running track, where she was a standout in the 100, 200, 4×100 relay and 4×400 relay.
But this spring for reasons partially medical (she has been dealing with a high left ankle sprain since Jan. 25) and partially because she wanted to narrow her focus to just basketball, she gave up track.
James said one of her biggest goals is to play in college, and last August, Quinnipiac extended her the first of what likely will be many scholarship offers. Since then, Wisconsin and Princeton have let her know their interest in her is high.
That doesn’t mean she is content in any way.
With the Celtics’ season completed, James said she will play AAU basketball with the Tampa Thunder and will spend time in the weight room, looking to improve the strength in her arms and legs.
And, oh yeah, she hopes to add a little more Steph to her game.
“I’m going to work on my ball-handling skills and the range on my jump shot,” James said. ”(Right now, I’m comfortable up to) two or three feet behind the 3-point line. I want to expand that.”
In other words, doing “everything” is just a start point.
ALL COUNTY GIRLS BASKETBALL
Sydney James, Trinity Catholic, sophomore — Class 5A Florida Dairy Farmers player of the year. Averaged 20 PPG, 12 RPG, 5 APG, 5 SPG, 2 BPG. District 7 player of the year.
Nasia Powell, Vanguard, freshman — Class 7A Florida Dairy Farmers runner up for POY. Averaged 24.7 PPG (led the state class 7A in scoring), tallied five 30-point games and one 40 point game. 3.2 SPG, 2.7 APG. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
Essence Bell, Vanguard, junior — All-around court leader, makes the players around better. 14.1 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 4.4 APG, 3.2 SPG. Tallied three triple-doubles and nine double-doubles. County’s leading rebounding guard. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
Jada Freeman, West Port, senior — Averaged 12.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.5 SPG, shot 63 percent from the floor and 66 percent from free throw line. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
Gabriella Lora, West Port, senior — Tallied 11.6 PPG, county-high 5.4 APG, 2.8 SPG, shot 75 percent from free throw line. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
Annie Cate Fitzpatrick, Trinity Catholic, sophomore — County rebound leader (14.3 RPG), and blocks leader (3.1 BPG). Averaged 12.3 PPG, 2.3 APG.
Lexie Osborne, Belleview, senior — Strong-willed inside player averaged team-high 9.8 PPG. 3.8 RPG, 2.5 SPG. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
Kim Kohlmaier, Forest, junior — Has chalked up 803 points over the last two seasons for the ’Cats. Highest scoring game was 31 this season. MCIAC all-athletic selection. MCIAC all-academic selection.
Kandei’a Towns, Belleview, junior — Aggressive scorer and rebounder. 9.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.3 SPG. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
Beijing Ferguson, Vanguard, senior — Athletic, top county defender, was assigned to opponent’s best player. 5.7 PPG, 2.8 SPG.
Landyn Tucker, Ocala Christian, junior — Averaged 16.1 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 2.9 SPG for Crusaders.
Emaria Williams, North Marion, senior — Averaged 10.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG for Colts. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
Danisha Wilson, West Port, junior — Tallied 8.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, shot 62 percent from the floor.
Megan Miller, Trinity Catholic, junior — Accurate shooter. 10 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.6 APG.
Abby Kohlmaier, Forest, junior — Scored 332 points with 44 assists and 105 rebounds this season. MCIAC all-athletic selection. MCIAC all-academic selection.
Zacaya Collins, North Marion, junior — 7.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG. MCIAC all-academic selection.
Aubrey Griffin, St. John, freshman — Averaged 9.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG and shot 35% from 3-point line.
Leiana Buie, West Port, freshman — Averaged 6.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, shot 73 percent from free throw line. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
Tay Riche, Belleview, junior — Speedy guard averaged 9.0 PPG, 3.6 APG, 4.4 SPG, 3.8 RPG. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
Re’na Ashley, Vanguard, sophomore — 5.7 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 2.3 SPG. 1.9 BPG. Controlled the boards down low.
Diamond Pino, Forest, sophomore — Wildcats’ top defender collected 123 rebounds and 122 points this season. MCIAC all-academic selection.
BELLEVIEW — Kelsey Clifford, Ta’Shyra Johnson, Miracle Fletcher, Quay Riche. DUNNELLON — Alliah Laylor, Alexa Hastings. FOREST — Ta’Taneisha Williams, Deashia Brown, Elijuanz Heard. LAKE WEIR — Nikaejah Green, Jalisa Ricketts, Janee Ricketts. NORTH MARION — Erianna Williams, Victoria Wilson. OCALA CHRISTIAN — Makayla Smith, Havan Artman, Alexis Stewart, Lexia Thomas. ST. JOHN — Katie Tagliaferro, Zoey Trawick, Gia Vitale. TRINITY CATHOLIC — Natasha Morales, Raine Lynch. VANGUARD — Tomiya Brown, Shakira Preston. WEST PORT — Jennifer Marquez.