By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight once said that "Good basketball always starts with good defense." This holds true today in the realm of collegiate women's basketball when five of the nation's top 10 ranked teams also ranked in the top 20 of field-goal percentage defense last season and another two teams ranked inside the top 50.
If teams want to beat the best, they need to have players who can lock down opposing attackers in order to force turnovers and give their offense more opportunities to get points on the board. As the Penn State Lady Lions aspire to get their program to the next level, they bring aboard a freshman in Siyeh Frazier who looks to provide a spark on the defensive side of the ball.
Frazier hails from the motor city of Detroit, Mich. where she attended Renaissance High School. In her four years with the Renaissance, Frazier was a four-year letter winner and put up big numbers on the court. In her high school career, she tallied over 1,200 points, 300 steals and 200 assists, all the while maintaining a 3.2 GPA. As a captain, Frazier embodied her leadership role and made sure she was vocal in her efforts to help make the team better through both direction and support.
She capped it all off with an incredibly impressive senior season that saw her average 20.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.5 steals per game. Her incredible play in her final season of high school made her a well-deserving finalist for the title of Michigan Miss Basketball as well as a First Team All-State selection in both her junior and senior years.
ESPN ranked her as the No. 22 prospect at her respective position of guard in the 2016 recruiting class. The sports media outlet evaluated her from her participation in the 2015 Nike Midwest Showdown and touted her as an "athletic off-guard with quick 1st-step attack" who also is "physical" on the drive and on defense.
It was almost a full year ago when Frazier announced her commitment to Penn State amongst her peers at her high school. Amongst her many reasons for deciding to make the trip all the way to Happy Valley, the guard said the coaches were a big reason why she decided to wear the Blue and White.
"One thing that made me really want to come here was the coaching staff. They're amazing, especially coach [Coquese Washington], she cares more about us than actually playing."
Coach Washington was struck by Frazier's level of overall athletic ability coming out of high school and saw her as a player who could make a lasting impact for the Lady Lions. She announced at media day that she expects an immediate impact from both Frazier and fellow freshman Jaida Travascio-Green. Frazier says that coach expects her to play hard, play good defense and do her best all the time.
"Siyeh Frazier is an incredible athlete, she's a defensive dynamo," Washington said on what made her want to bring Frazier into the program. "She really gets after it on the defensive end of the floor and is able to get to the basket and be explosive in that respect."
The freshman now is in the process of taking her talents and transitioning them into the college game. The next level can sometimes be demanding for new players since it demands a lot more from the student-athletes than at the high school level where athleticism is often enough for athletic players to get by.
Frazier says her transition, while challenging, has been rather smooth. Not only has she had a solid level of support from her teammates and coaching staff, but for the first time over the summer, the program was able to hold full-length practices. Coach Washington says she believes the practices were able to help the freshmen like Frazier out the most as a way to ease into this next level.
"They got to kind of get thrown into the fire in terms of understanding how much information it is on the college level," Washington said. "How many plays we have, thinking about all the defenses, all the out-of-bounds plays; so being able for them to be able to have that experience in the summer just made it easier for them to transition to the college game."
Being able to comfortably adapt to her new environment has given the freshman the ability to focus on what she does best, and that's leaving it all out on the floor.
When asked what she expects to contribute to the team this season, her response was, "Bringing energy, playing hard and doing anything they need me to do."
Last year in an interview with MLive.com, the then-senior said she finds her game to also be very "versatile" and even "clutch."
"I'm able to adjust very well, play through a lot of adversities and do things when it's needed," Frazier said.
Next Friday will mark the official start to the season for Frazier and the Penn State, where she will look to pick up where she left off at Renaissance by leaving an impression out on the hardwood, all the while beginning a new chapter in her young career as one of the newest members of the Lady Lions.