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With Speed, Smarts And Spahn, Success Is In The Cards For Mikayla Pivec

Mikayla Pivec was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Washington after averaging 20.4 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. Courtesy Scott Williams Photography

Tucked neatly in boxes and stored underneath Mikayla Pivec's bed is a collection of nearly 40,000 player cards -- mostly featuring players from Major League Baseball and the NBA.

Pivec, a 5-foot-10 guard for Lynnwood (Bothell, Washington), said her favorite card is Kevin Durant's from his 2007-08 NBA rookie season when he played in her home state for the Seattle Sonics.

"But I also have a Warren Spahn 1963 card I bought on eBay," Pivec said of the ex-MLB pitcher. "My dad has a lot of old ones that are more renowned. Hopefully I will get his collection one day."

Pivec, the savvy card investor -- that's just one side of this talented 17-year-old who was the 2015 Gatorade Player of the Year for Washington and is No. 49 in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 for the 2016 class.

She's also known as Pivec the Prankster, and her playful antics include the time she and her teammates -- at around midnight -- filled the deck outside her high school coach's house with dozens of cups of soda. When Everett Edwards and his wife opened their front door the next morning, they found a major surprise.

"My mom had to pick up the cups one by one and stuff them into a trash bag," said Jordyn Edwards, the coach's daughter and a Lynwood player who was in on the prank with Pivec. "My parents weren't that mad. They're used to it -- Mikayla is a really good prankster."

Truth be told, there's not much Pivec isn't really good at, including academics, where she is a 4.0 student and hopes to one day become a dermatologist.

She also led Lynnwood, which opened in 1970, to its first state title in girls' basketball this past season, averaging 20.4 points and 12.1 rebounds. She scored 31 of her team's 54 points in the Class 3A state final.

After basketball season was over, she won a 4X400 relay state title in track and field, the first time Lynnwood had ever taken gold in that event.

Named The Seattle Times' 2015 Female Athlete of the Year, Pivec holds school records for the 800, 1600 and the javelin. As a sophomore, she placed seventh in the state in the javelin but gave it up late this past season because of a sore arm.

Brent Merritt, who coaches Pivec in AAU for Emerald City Basketball Academy, was a 400-meter All-American sprinter at the University of Washington, and he said he is "amazed" by her athletic ability.

"You can't run the 4x400 and then run the 1600 -- that makes no sense," he said. "And, oh by the way, you throw the javelin, too.

"If she decided she wanted play softball, she'd get a scholarship in that sport as well."

Pivec, though, is focused on basketball, and she will announce what school she will attend on Nov. 18, which is her 18th birthday. Her three finalists are Oregon State, Stanford and Washington.

It's fun to run

Pivec became an athlete as if by osmosis.

Her mom, Pam, who is 5-7, won two state track and field titles as a high school senior in 1982 at Redmond (Washington), beating the Class 3A competition in the 1600 and the 3200. She went on run cross-country and track at the University of Idaho.

Pivec's dad, Mike, who is 6-2, was a soccer standout, starting at right fullback for the University of Washington.

The couple has two daughters, Mikayla and Malia, a junior soccer standout who joined her sister on the relay team that won state last season.

Running, it seems, has always been part of the Pivecs' life.

"For Pam and I, part of our regular activity was going to the health club and going on organized fun runs," Mike said. "At the end of the runs, there was always all-you-can eat food and drinks. The girls saw it, and liked it, especially the celebration at the end.

"Mikayla was probably 6 when she starting doing the runs. It was a 5K for the adults and 100 yards for the kids. That hooked her on running, and it's always been one of her advantages in basketball. She can run forever."

Pivec started playing organized basketball in fourth grade. By seventh grade, when she broke her middle school's single-game scoring record with 45 points, her parents noticed she had some special skills.

That was right around the time Merritt first met Pivec, and he could tell right away that she stood out.

"She always made the right play," he said. "She knew how to penetrate and kick. It was like a college player in the sixth grade."

Colleges come calling

As a freshman at Lynnwood, Pivec averaged 10.6 points and led the state in rebounding (14.9). As a sophomore, she improved to 15.1 points and again led the state in rebounding (14.9).

In January of her sophomore year, she got her first college scholarship offer, from Seattle University.

Early in her junior year, she narrowed her list to six: Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, Seattle, Nebraska and Washington State.

"That was one of best decisions we made," Mike said of limiting the number of schools she was seriously considering. "It was our attempt to control the process."

On the court, Pivec believes she is only getting better.

As she has gotten older, she has started lifting weights. At 5-10 -- and she believes she is much closer to 5-11 -- Pivec is powerful at 157 pounds.

She and Jordyn Edwards, a 5-10 senior guard who has committed to Colorado State, form a potent 1-2 punch for Lynnwood as the Royals look to repeat as state champs.

Pivec, although she is a guard, said her favorite thing to do on the court is rebound, especially on the offensive glass.

"It's deflating to the other team when they play good defense, force a miss, and then I can come in and hopefully get my team another possession," she said.

Merritt said Pivec averaged about 15 rebounds a game for him on the AAU circuit this past summer.

"She's like a point center," Merritt said of Pivec, who will likely focus on shooting guard and some point guard in college.

Merritt said college coaches love how hard Pivec plays and have noted her killer instinct, especially late in games. "She is probably the sweetest and nicest kid you'll ever meet," Merritt said. "But don't test her."