PHILADELPHIA — Adrien LaMora doesn’t follow much professional basketball, but she follows Breanna Stewart, the former Cicero-North Syracuse star that went on to win four national championships at the University of Connecticut before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Seattle Storm in 2016.
As a kid, watching Stewart’s rise to stardom showed LaMora the value in versatility, a trait that is quickly becoming the sophomore’s trademark.
As a freshman, she led the Warriors in points per game (15.2), rebounds per game (8.2) and assists per game (4) — statistics good enough to land her on the Times All-North girls basketball first team as a freshman last April.
This success came as a point guard, but that’s not necessarily where LaMora needs to play. With former post player Nia Gray graduated and sophomore forward McKenna House most likely out for the season with a torn ACL — an injury she suffered over the summer — there’s an opening in the post for the nearly 6-foot tall LaMora.
“I know where this is going,” Whitley said with a smirk when asked about this possibility.
“I would love to be able to have Adrien play the post, I would really love to have her play the post,” Whitley said. “We have really three other guards that can possibly be point guards, I think against some teams they can be ready, but against the better teams it might have to be back to Adrien.”
Whitley hopes that LaKaiya Butcher, a ninth grader with good size and speed, can assume the point guard role. But until he feels comfortable moving her into the role full time, it’s LaMora’s job.
Let’s be clear, this isn’t a bad thing. LaMora has quickly become one of the more dynamic girls basketball players in Section 3.
She dominated at the point guard position last season and played a big role for the Warriors, who finished 15-6 and won the Frontier League “A” Division tournament.
Granted, she benefited from Gray’s presence in the paint, which often attracted opponents’ No. 1 defender. But with Gray gone, it opens up opportunities for LaMora to display her talents in new spots.
“I think, depending on who we’re playing, if we’re playing a real small team like Lowville, we might put her down low, if we’re playing a really quick team like South Jeff, again we might play her down low,” Whitley said.
Despite playing more of a versatile role, Whitley doesn’t see LaMora’s game changing all too much.
“I think she has to make better decisions at the point, there were times last year where she tried to force the issue, she has to let the game come to her,” Whitley said. “But, we have some girls that are very quick and could finish, that she could get the ball out to, also our seniors are very good shooters.”
Despite a fantastic freshman year where LaMora broke onto the scene as an excellent scorer and rebounder, this is still the infancy of her high school career.
And while she’s expected to still primarily play a point guard role, playing AAU with the Syracuse Royals over the summer gave her the valuable experience of playing in the post against stiff competition.
LaMora continues to make herself more versatile, which only makes her a better basketball player.
“You see different options on the court when you play multiple positions,” LaMora said. “Like post player, you see things that the point may not because they’re heavily guarded. You see just different options for different people.”
Having the ability to effectively switch between post player and guard isn’t very common in the Frontier League, which gives LaMora a significant advantage.
Her talents down low, particularly, can be a huge advantage for the Warriors in the future.
“If I were coaching against our team, I would want Adrien as far away from the basket as I could get her,” Whitley said. “Therefore, being her coach, I want her as close to the basket as she can be. Now, a lot