When Deon Monroe arrived at Truman High School as a freshman, she was accustomed to playing under the basket because of her size and strength.
That was three years ago.
Fast forward to 2018 and the Patriots 5-foot-7 breakout Class 5 all-state star has to be ready to play every position on the court – post, forward, guard, point guard – you name it.
And it was that versatility that helped her claim The Examiner’s 2018-19 Girls Basketball Player of the Year Award.
Monroe averaged a double-double – 17 points and just over 10 rebounds per game – along with two steals, three assists while shooting a radar-like 51 percent from the floor.
“She is one of those rare players who can do it all – and she can do it all in one game or one quarter,” said a grinning coach Steve Cassity, who was thrilled when he found out that his junior star had earned the honor. “As a coach, you want your best players to get the ball as often as possible, and with Deon, she is going to get a lot of touches because she can play anywhere on the court.
“Early in her career, and by early, I mean before she arrived at Truman, she could just muscle her way in against most opponents and do whatever she wanted. She came here as a post player and I believe that is probably what she thought she would be playing all four years here.”
As Cassity talked about her development, Monroe nodded in agreement.
“But we saw so much potential in Deon. She really can do just about anything we ask of her.”
She played all five positions on the court in last year’s 53-46 Class 5 sectional loss to Lee’s Summit West.
She led all scorers with 23 points and dominated on both ends of the court as the Patriots wrapped up a 15-13 campaign.
“That loss taught me something,” Monroe said. “I wanted to win that game so much because it was the last game for our seniors. And they have meant so much to me over the years.
“Next year, I’m going to be a senior and I can’t wait – and I hope everyone works as hard as I did last season to make sure our seniors have a lot of good things to remember.”
She has certainly provided a wealth of memories.
“I want to work hard and do all I can to help our team win,” Monroe said. “I still can’t believe I am your player of the year. That is just so special. I never even thought about an honor like that.
“I couldn’t even imagine it back when I was a freshman and Coach Cassity told me he was going to use to bring the ball up the court, and at forward and the post. I was like, ‘Really?’
“He had more confidence in me than I had in myself, but it’s all worked out. He has helped me become a better player, and more important, a more confident player and a better person.
“I work hard in practice at every part of the game to be ready for my senior season because I want it to be special – for our coaches, my teammates and everyone."