Not Even Mother Nature Can Keep Destiny Slocum Away From The Basket
One day, when she was in fourth grade, Destiny Slocum was playing in her driveway when it started to rain. Her parents were watching from the kitchen window of their Idaho home, and what they saw amazed them. Slocum's clothes were drenched and the ball kept landing in a giant puddle after every made basket. But she just picked up the ball and kept on playing.
"There's nothing that can stop me from shooting baskets -- whether it's snowing or raining or whatever," said Slocum, a 5-foot-7 point guard and the No. 4 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Super 60 for the 2016 class. "If there's not a rim, I'll make one." In February, the 17 year old showed just what an unstoppable force she has become by leading Mountain View (Meridian, Idaho) to the first state title in program history. She was named Idaho's Gatorade Player of the Year after powering Mountain View to a 26-1 record.
Slocum, who recently reopened her recruitment after originally committing to Washington (one place she won't be going is UConn, but more on that later), averaged 26.3 points in three games at state, including 25 points and 10 rebounds in the championship game, a 66-53 win over Boise.
Mountain View coach Connie Skogrand said Slocum's talents go way beyond her numbers, which include season averages of 25.1 points, 5.6 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 2.9 steals as a junior.
"One of the [University of] South Carolina coaches told me that Destiny can take an average team and make them great," Skogrand said. "I told her, 'I know. That's what she did with us.' "
Jon Slocum, Destiny's father and a Mountain View assistant coach, noticed his daughter's basketball skill when she was 5. The second of five children, Destiny was beating her older brother, who was then 7, quite decisively in a game of one-on-one.
The coaches at the Hoop Dreams basketball club team were the next to notice. They saw Slocum, who was a third-grader at the time, throwing a football better, farther and with more accuracy than the boys she was competing against. They quickly approached her father and invited her to join their basketball club.
"She didn't pay play like an ordinary girl," said Shambric Williams, who was there for her initial tryout and still coaches Slocum today. "The way she controlled her body ... she could do things other kids couldn't."
Skogrand, who has been Mountain View's coach since the school opened a dozen years ago, first heard of Slocum when she was in seventh grade. Skeptical at first, Skogrand was quickly convinced when she saw Slocum play.
"She had upper-body strength that was very unusual for a girl her age," Skogrand said. "She was strong enough to penetrate and then whip that ball out to the 3-point shooters."
Slocum had the talent -- and the maturity -- to start on varsity as a freshman, averaging 15.5 points and earning conference player of the year honors. Mountain View finished 19-7 -- the best record in school history at the time -- and ended up sixth at state.
Mountain View improved to third in the state the next year, as Slocum averaged 22 points to set up the team's triumphant and recently concluded season.
Through it all, Skogrand has been wowed by Slocum's knowledge of the game.
"When she was a freshman, it was like talking to a senior," Skogrand said. "Now, it's like talking to a coach. You can ask her about the history of the game, and she can tell you many national titles John Wooden or Pat Summitt won. She's a historian, I guess."
Slocum, who has a 3.7 GPA, has been known to rattle off quotes from basketball movies such as "Coach Carter" and "Hoosiers."
She hangs out at the house of teammate Kayla Anderson, and they -- along with the rest of the team -- can usually be found in the basement watching movies.
If not, they're in the backyard, where they lower the rim to seven feet and put on a dunking exhibition.
On long bus rides, such as the seven-hour trip the girls made from Boise to Portland for the End of the Trail AAU tournament, Slocum takes center stage again, singing the entire time.
"She's a pretty good singer and dancer," Anderson concedes.
Slocum, it seems, never stops.
She admits she talks in her sleep, often about basketball. Her mother once overheard her talk about her defensive slides while still asleep. Teammate Alyssa Case once heard Slocum sleep-talking about the Rubik's Cube.
"I have an active mind," Slocum said.
It was that active mind that made a big decision earlier this month, when she called the Washington coaches and told them she was reopening her recruitment after pledging to them in September.
Williams, her club coach, said Slocum had been known mostly to Pac-12 coaches before breaking out with a big 2014 AAU season. She was especially good in a tournament in Nashville, Tennessee, that Hoop Dreams won.
Once that happened, coaches from the eastern half of the nation were intrigued and started to pursue her.
"A lot of coaches had not had the opportunity to see her until Tennessee," Williams said. "They were amazed at how fearless she is -- she attacks the rim like [NBA star Russell] Westbrook. "Defensively, she gets in her stance, and she makes it tough on you. If she goes to play pickup ball with the guys, she would be one of the first picks. She's that good and that intense."
Williams has been telling Slocum how unique she is, and her 6-foot-1 father -- who turned down a basketball scholarship from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette because he and his now-wife had started a family in Idaho -- has been saying the same thing.
Jon Slocum said he wanted his daughter to be open to the idea of playing for one of national powers from the other side of the country, such as Connecticut.
Destiny, who wants to be a coach one day, has taken her father's advice -- sort of.
"If I stay out west, I will play for Washington," said Slocum, who plans on signing in November's early period. "But I think I might have a better chance at developing on the East Coast.
"I've never given UConn a thought -- that's not the school for me. I want to make a name for myself and my team and do something that's never been done before. That would be fun."
One thing is for sure: The college that signs Slocum will get a player who loves the game. She recently had her photo taken while lying on the grass, embracing a basketball. She jokes that "Nike" is her boyfriend.
"To me, it's more than just a game," she said. "I couldn't go one day without basketball."