There's an Asian-American basketball player causing quite a stir in New York, but unlike Jeremy Lin, she's no two-week wonder.
has been lighting up gyms in and around Ossining (N.Y.)
– about 25 minutes north of Madison Square Garden – for the last three seasons, and she currently ranks sixth in the nation at 32.1 points per game.
The 5-foot-9 junior point guard also averages a gaudy 9.4 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 4.9 steals per game, leading Ossining to a 21-0 record and No. 1 spot in the state and No. 35 nationally,
according to the MaxPreps Freeman computer rankings.
This comes after she averaged 33.8 points, 5.2 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 6 steals for her 20-4 team as a sophomore. Though her numbers are off the charts and she'll likely break numerous state and section marks, Ossining coach Dan Ricci said she's so much more than a scorer.
"She's truly a remarkable offensive player – I've never seen anyone more explosive," he said. "She's extremely quick, she has long arms, can use either hand, she gets to the basket and has long range on her jumper (200 career 3-pointers).
"But what makes her so great is that she makes everyone around her so much better, sort of like Magic Johnson."
Or like Lin, who has taken over the Big Apple and dominated the headlines.
Though she admires the spirit and spunk Lin has displayed while taking the NBA by storm, Chong is definitely not caught up in the insanity - or any other pun that includes his name.
"It's a really nice comeback story," Chong said. "He's a great player and worked hard to be where he's at."
She doesn't attach herself to his ethnic background either. Chong's father Andrew is Chinese and her mother Leslie is African-American. To her, Lin is simply a superb NBA player to admire and emulate like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin or Dwyane Wade, she said.
But as far as Lin being the first breakthrough American-Asian NBA star, Chong said: "That's good and cool, but it's not really why I like him as a player." Jaw-Dropper
That doesn't surprise Ricci, who said Chong, a quiet, thoughtful sort, is no follower or stargazer.
"She has the smallest ego of any big-time athlete I've ever known," he said. "She doesn't read all the press clippings, doesn't watch the NBA or college much. She's more of a doer. She doesn't like to sit and watch. She just plays with her heart."
And when she does, hearts stop and jaws drop.
As a freshman she scored 38 in a season-ending loss to state power Mount Vernon. Last year in the playoffs, she put up pinball numbers, scoring 32, 61, 39, 42, 35 and 43 points. The Pride avenged the loss to Mount Vernon and reached the state quarterfinals.
"I've been playing with her for three years and she still boggles my mind," said 5-4 junior off-guard Danielle Gervacio
. "Every time she takes the court, she does something different. Her moves, her handles, crazy stuff."
But what makes her so popular with her teammates – Ricci said Chong is the most popular girl at school – is her unselfishness.
"She somehow stays so humble," Gervacio said. "She doesn't let all the attention go to her head. She honestly gets more satisfaction out of handing out an assist than scoring."
That has played out in the first two rounds of the playoffs, both lopsided wins. She had a career-high 14 assists along with 17 points in a 73-34 win
over Mahopac on Friday and then bettered that with 15 assists and 22
points in an 82-47 victory over Greeley on Tuesday.
"There's something about helping my teammate score that's way more satisfying than me scoring myself," Chong said. "It's hard to explain."
It's easy to understand why every school in the east – including UConn and Rutgers – have been by the gym to watch her play and practice. But she's not leaning any particular way yet.
"The recruiting is kind of fun and kind of stressful at the same time," she said. "My recruiting is still wide open."All the way to the WNBA
She started playing at age 6 and constantly battled her brother Andre, who is five years older. He helped push her athletically while the family grew up in the Bronx.
A tragedy led the family out of New York to North Carolina for three years, but when they returned three years ago, they picked Ossining and coach Ricci, who graduated from the school in 1983.
Ricci led the Pride to the state finals in 2004 and they have made regular visits to the section and regional playoffs.
Playing in the state's largest AA division, Ossining needs to win four more games to reach the state finals. The Pride will likely need to go through Cicero-North Syracuse (Cicero, N.Y.)
and arguably the nation's top player, Breanna Stewart
, a 6-3 forward who has signed to UConn.
Cicero was ranked fourth nationally before losing last week to Christ the King, 66-60.
"Breanna is a remarkable player for sure," Ricci said. "But right now I think our team is a little better than them. We'll see."
With only two 6-footers, the Pride aren't really big but instead rely on quickness, full-court pressure and flat-out scoring. Their 88 points per game leads the nation. Freshman
, a 5-10 guard, and Jalay Knowles
, a 6-foot post, also average in double-digit scoring at 14.5 and 12.6 points per game, respectively.
The scary part for the rest of New York is that there isn't a senior on Ricci's roster.
"We have all the potential in the world," Chong said. "Our goal is to go all the way. If we don't get there this year, then certainly next."
And what about Chong's future?
"It's pretty amazing to see how far girls have come in basketball over the years," she said. "Sure, I think about playing at the next level and getting all the way to the WNBA. That would be amazing.
"But I just have to take it one step at a time."