Jana Van Gytenbeek has been one of Colorado's top girls basketball players for the past two seasons, and the Cherry Creek junior continues to get better.
The 5-foot-7 point guard who has verbally committed to play at Stanford has been a member of the Colorado Community Media All-South Metro girls team for the past two seasons and came into this season with the goal of improving after banner freshman and sophomore campaigns.
Clint Evans is the new Bruins coach this season and Van Gytenbeek credits Evans with some of her improvement.
“It's different this year,” she explained. “I think this year I've improved the most since I got to high school because he (Evans) is such a good coach and he is so tough on us and makes us work on all the little details, which only helps us improve. My biggest growth has been this year."
Van Gytenbeek ran cross country last fall and seems to also be smiling and having fun during warm-ups, but is focused during basketball practice and games.
“I'm pretty happy,” she admitted. “I try to keep it like that. Obviously little things make me mad, like if I'm not doing my job or not doing what I'm supposed to. Coach will let me know. It makes me a little mad on the inside because you want to get better and that will make me grow. I try to find joy in the game.”
In statistics for games prior to Jan. 30, Van Gytenbeek was the Centennial League leader in scoring average (18.6 points per game), assists (4.8) and field goals (109).
“She is probably the fastest kid with the ball that I've ever seen. She can really shoot it, plays hard, and a really defining characteristic of her is she is so strong. She is so much stronger than a lot of kids her size. She can pass the ball with both hands. She can do a lot of things on the basketball court.”
Cherry Creek girls basketball coach
Q&A with Jana Van Gytenbeek
Who is your favorite athlete and why?
Sue Bird, because of the way she sees the floor, and her shot is really nice.
What or who motivates you most to excel in sports?
Probably my dad, Tony.
What would be a perfect performance in your sport?
No turnovers and getting the feel. I love the feel and assists.
What is your favorite class in school and why?
English. I just like writing.
What do you like to do away from sports and school?
I love going to church. My faith is really strong.
What are your plans after high school?
Going to Stanford, contributing and trying to win a national title there.
What goes into the decision to pass or shoot the basketball?
What I try to do is get my teammates wide-open shots, and they are usually pretty good about knocking them down. I pass first most of the time. I rather my teammate get a bucket, that's just how I think.
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