Grace under fire: Grain Valley's Slaughter endures rough summer before heading to Chile

By Bill Althaus
The Examiner
Grain Valley guard Grace Slaughter (33) drives to the hoop against Raytown's Kaylani Hoskin in a game last season. Slaughter, who led the metro area in scoring last season, is enjoying a successful – and physical – summer of AAU ball before heading to Chile next month for the FIBA Americas 16U championship.

The next time someone laughs when you mention that basketball is a contact sport, have them spend a few minutes with Grace Slaughter. 

The Grain Valley junior and Mizzou commit, who has won or shared The Examiner’s Girls Basketball Player of the Year her first two seasons in high school, is enjoying a sensational summer of AAU basketball. 

But sometimes, the game can get a bit out of hand. 

At The Best of the Best AAU tournament last week in Des Moines, Iowa, Slaughter caught an elbow above her right eye and, despite her pleading to stay on the court, had to leave the game. 

“Luckily for me we have some doctor and nurse moms who were there, and they used some kind of glue to close the cut above my eye,” Slaughter said. 

“It looked worse than it was.”

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In a photo taken by her mother Becky, Grain Valley junior Grace Slaughter shows the injuries she suffered in an AAU tournament in Iowa this month. Slaughter quickly recovered to return to the court and will travel to Chile next month to play for the U.S. national team in the FIBA Americas 16U championships.

And that was not the worst thing that happened to Slaughter, one of the top 16U players in the nation who has been named to the team that will represent the United States next month (Aug. 16-22) in the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Santiago, Chile. 

After the elbow to the eye, Slaughter nearly had her nose wiped off her face as an elbow smacked her – accidentally – causing another scare. 

“I’m watching this,” said her mother, Becky, a former standout basketball player at Truman High School, “and thinking, ‘What’s happening to my kid?’ 

“She never goes to the training room, and now she has to go twice.” 

And Mom had to suppress a laugh when Grace returned to the court. 

Grace Slaughter

“Well, she had the butterfly tape over her right eye and two big swabs of cotton in each nostril,” Becky said. “I called here over because I had to take a picture – it wasn’t funny, but it was.” 

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Grace, who was relieved to find that there were no broken bones in her nose, agreed. 

“I did look pretty funny,” Grace said, “but I wasn’t going to come out of the game, and they had to put the cotton in there to stop the bleeding. 

“But it all turned out all right.” 

It must have, because Grace and Becky left Iowa and drove to Chicago for another showcase tournament. 

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“I’m so lucky to have the parents I have,” said Slaughter, who averaged a metro area-best 27.3 points per game, 7.1 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.8 assists in her sophomore season at Grain Valley this past winter. “Either my mom or my dad (Brian) travel everywhere with me and my sister Olivia (who plays competitive softball) and that means so much to us. 

“When Mom and I hit the road, it’s just like two best friends going on a road trip, and it’s so much fun.” 

Slaughter actually has some time off this week, before getting ready for the 16U FIBA Americas tournament in Chile. 

“I can’t wait to put on a uniform with USA across the front,” Slaughter said. “It’s really been an unbelievable summer, and the best is yet to come.”