Being 6-foot-5 can have advantages. Especially when you're a 16-year-old female who loves basketball.
, who plays for Discovery Canyon (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
, is starting to make a name for herself on the national scene. The junior is the 25th-ranked player in the Class of 2019 by ESPN.com, No. 5 in the post position.
Prechtel has been primarily a perimeter player in the past, but she's been working hard to improve her all-around game and possess a post presence.
"I hate when people say the only reason I'm good at basketball is because I'm tall, so that's one reason why I've tried to work on other skills," Prechtel said.
Prechtel, who is a three-year starter, has had a solid start to this season. She's averaging 17.8 points, 12 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game.
"I'm been working on my inside game a lot, especially this year," Prechtel said. "And it also helps me with a new high school coach and he has had me working on that a lot more. I think I have improved a ton just since the season started."
What's really helped Prechtel's game has been working with Keith Van Horn. The former No. 2 overall draft pick in 1997 played 10 years in the NBA. He's now the executive director of the Premier Basketball Club out of Denver. Learn more about the MaxPreps US Marines program at www.maxpreps.com/marines
Prechtel has been able to relate to Van Horn, who was a 6-foot-10 lanky player.
"I really kind of understood where she was in her development," Van Horn said. "I had similar situations where I grew really fast and was trying to develop my game at the same time as getting control of my body. I think it's been helpful for me to have patience with her and understand she's still a developing kid, and when kids grow at that speed sometimes it takes a little longer for them to develop that coordination and for things to come together. I really think that things have come together for her and she's really starting to flourish, and that's great to see."
The biggest things Van Horn has been working on with Prechtel is balance, technique and finishing around the basket.
"I think it's awesome to be coached by him and I think there were so many aspects to his game that all tall people weren't really expected to do — like he could go outside and shoot," Prechtel said. "I like to do that, too, and so I think there are some similarities. I'd like to get as close to how good as he was he was obviously a super good player."
It helps that Prechtel has a great deal of natural ability on the court. Van Horn doesn't have to try and mold a player who doesn't know the ins and outs of basketball.
"There's certain kids that have more natural, innate gifts than others, but I think you can always improve and get better and become a solid player," Van Horn said. "But in terms of going from just being tall and becoming a top 50 player in the country, there's a certain level of natural gifts that play into that and being able to develop those natural gifts is really important. I think she just has some things that I as a coach can't teach. She moves so well, she has a little bit of an innate sense of passing and court vision."
The hardest aspect for Prechtel to get used to is finishing with contact around the rim.
"When other girls are in there and not necessarily fouling you but being there, that's the hardest, finishing while getting hit and drawing fouls," Prechtel said. "That's what I've been working on the most, and I can still can work on that."
When Prechtel started playing for Colorado Premier on the AAU circuit and facing and playing with top-notch talent from around the country, it was an eye-opening experience.
"I think initially it was a little bit of a shock to her and I think it forced her to realize where she is, where she wants to be and how hard she has to work in order to get to the level and achieve the goals that she wants to achieve," Van Horn said.
Playing on the national scene through Nike EYBL tournaments have also helped Prechtel attract college interest. Prechtel has a laundry list of schools after her from the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12 and Bog 12 conferences.
"It's awesome, especially when you see how well those schools are doing," Prechtel said. "It's exciting to know that you could be part of the program."
Another benefit of having Van Horn as a coach and mentor, Prechtel can get top-notch recruiting advice since Van Horn went through that stage 25 years ago.
"I speak with her and her parents on a consistent basis regarding recruiting," Van Horn said. "I'm obviously in touch with a lot of the coaches that are recruiting her and I do my best to kind of give them my feedback on the process and help them in the situations where most parents don't have a ton of experience."
For the third straight year, Prechtel is hoping to compete in the USA Basketball trials in May to make the roster for the FIFA World Championships in the summer. Last year, Prechtel was one of the final 37 players for the USA Basketball U16 National Team.
Along with being one of the nation's best basketball players, Prechtel is a standout volleyball player. She recently wrapped up her second season starting and registered 249 kills and 105 blocks as a middle blocker.
In the classroom, Prechtel holds a 3.8 grade point average, which ranked her in the top 10 percent of her class. Her schedule is packed with either Advanced Placement or honors courses.
"I like to keep good grades," Prechtel said "I try to balance it pretty well with basketball."
Prechtel is also active in the community, mentoring youth basketball players. She used a year-long International Baccalaureate project to empower young girls to find a love for basketball and show them how skills on the court transfer to things away from the game. She taught them about perseverance, overcoming adversity and learning determination.
Prechtel knows kids idolize her and she strives to be a role model.
"I think it's pretty cool, it motivates me for sure," Prechtel said. "It's exciting for me to play when they're watching because you know they're looking up to you. I used to look up to girls when I was younger, and so that know they are looking up to me is pretty cool."Know an incredible student-athlete who stands out in sports and in life away from competition? Click here to nominate them for a chance to be featured on MaxPreps.