Most likely to succeed: Washington’s Kelsey Plum nears NCAA scoring record

SEATTLE — The phone rang at the Plum household in Poway, Calif., on a late July day in 2012. Katie Plum picked it up, and the caller identified herself as Jackie Stiles.

“I don’t know if you know who I am,” Stiles said before Plum interjected.

“I know exactly who you are,” Plum said.

At the time, every adult member of the Plum family had played Division I college sports, and Katie Plum had talked to plenty of recruiters who pursued her two oldest daughters as well as her youngest, Kelsey. Recruiting didn’t do much for the girls’ parents, Katie and Jim Plum. Katie used recruiting letters as fire starters on the family’s frequent camping trips.

But this recruiting call was different. It was coming from a person whom the family, after filling out their men’s and women’s NCAA brackets in 2001, watched carry Southwest Missouri State to the Women’s Final Four. A person who set the NCAA women’s scoring record that still stands. A person who earned all-America honors after becoming the first woman to net a 1,000-point college season. A person who was making her first recruiting call of her first coaching job, an assistant position at Loyola Marymount.

“We watched that whole run,” Katie Plum said this week. “I did tell Kelsey that. I said, Kels, you don’t have to talk to everybody, but you gotta talk to Jackie Stiles.”

Katie Plum said her family found inspiration in Stiles’ modest stature for a basketball player (5-8) was captivated by Stiles’ well-chronicled work ethic of coming early and staying late for practice and tacking on a one-hour Stairmaster session for good measure.

Stiles, meanwhile, recalls her first live scouting assignment and being captivated by Kelsey Plum’s play. “I was mesmerized by her game,” Stiles told USA TODAY Sports. “I knew she was going to be special, and I knew LMU was a big-time long shot, but I didn’t care. I told my head coach, I’ve gotta call her.”

Then and now, Stiles intentionally avoids identifying herself as women’s college basketball’s all-time leading scorer when talking to prospects. But she saw much of her own game in Plum’s game, she made an exception. “I said, I know you probably don’t know who I am,” Stiles said, “but I’m the all-time leading scorer, and I would love to help you break my record.”

Sometime in the next 10 days, if Plum maintains her current average, the University of Washington senior will become the leading scorer in the history of women’s college basketball, surpassing Stiles’ record of 3,393. Plum is 79 points behind Stiles’ mark entering Thursday night, her penultimate regular-season home game for the Huskies and one that is being branded “Kelsey Plum Night.”

Read More (via USA Today)

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