Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village has produced some of the city’s best and brightest basketball stars.
NCAA National Champion Tina Charles, three-time Olympic gold medalist Sue Bird and current college phenom Bria Smith were all Royals in their teenage years.
Now, it’s Sierra Calhoun’s time to shine.
Calhoun, a senior at Christ the King who will be attending Duke University in the fall, was named to the McDonald’s All-American team on Jan. 29, the highest honor a high school basketball player can receive.
The All-American game will be played on April 2 in Chicago and air on ESPN.
Entering play against The Mary Louis Academy on Tuesday, Calhoun, the 10th-ranked female high school basketball player in the country by ESPN, was averaging a stellar 23 points per game, along with eight rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks per contest. She has led the Royals to a 14-4 record and her team is ranked second in the tri-state area by high school sports television network MSG Varsity.
The Royals are favorites to win the Catholic High School Athletic Association city championship and are contenders to capture the state title in March.
After scoring 16 points, grabbing seven rebounds and leading her team to a blowout 82-56 win on Tuesday, Calhoun, a Park Slope resident, blushed at the notion of being named a McDonald’s All-American.
“It’s something I’ve always dreamed of from the beginning,” Calhoun said in between giggles. “It’s definitely an honor.”
It’s no surprise that Calhoun is on the precipice of collegiate stardom; basketball has always been in the 17-year-old’s blood.
She still remembers the first time she touched a basketball at 6 years old and her older brother Omar, a skilled sophomore forward for the University of Connecticut, was her workout partner growing up.
When it was time to choose a college, Calhoun’s choice wasn’t easy. She was offered scholarships from UConn, Duke and Notre Dame, arguably the three best women’s college basketball programs, as well as more local options in St. John’s and Rutgers.
Instead of following in the footsteps of her brother and Christ the King alumni Bird and Charles in calling Connecticut home, she wanted to blaze her own trail.
“I really wanted to make my own path,” she said. “At Duke, I gelled with the coaching staff and it felt like home,”
Royals coach Bob Mackey doesn’t need to wait to see how Calhoun transitions to the much more difficult level of play, he already knows she’s going to shine.
“I think she’ll have a great career at Duke,” Mackey said. “You miss everybody but I’ve already told her she can stay another year if she wants.”
Even though Calhoun is entering her final few weeks as a high school basketball player, she doesn’t think it’s the right time to reflect on her illustrious career. She’ll be playing for an NCAA championship in just a few months, but there’s still a title or two to bring home to Christ the King first.
“I’m looking to go out with a bang by winning state,” she said. “We’re definitely looking to come out victorious.”