As injuries were mounting at the end of the season, Destiny Littleton powered on and although that game vs. Clovis West was ugly she still did more than enough during a record-breaking season to earn California’s highest individual and longest-running girls hoops accolade. Littleton is just the fifth winner from the CIF San Diego Section, but the second from La Jolla in five years following new NCAA all-time scoring leader Kelsey Plum of La Jolla Country Day for 2013.
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The top individual honor for girls’ basketball in California this past season wasn’t a total slam dunk, but ever since she laced up her sneakers as a freshman it seems the award has somewhat fittingly been the destiny of Destiny Littleton from The Bishop’s School of La Jolla.
Now, after a season and career in which one would almost need an abacus to add up all the records she set, including career and single-season all-time top marks for scoring in California, Littleton has been named the 2016-17 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports.
With the award, Littleton makes it a clean sweep after previously claiming the State Freshman, Sophomore and Junior of the Year honors.
Littleton is also the fifth player from the CIF San Diego Section to be named Ms. Basketball. Sharon Turner from El Camino of Oceanside was the first when she was the 1985 winner. She was followed by Terri Mann of San Diego Point Loma, who won in 1986 and 1987. Candice Wiggins of La Jolla Country Day was the 2004 honoree, and the last winner from San Diego before Littleton was all-time NCAA scoring leader Kelsey Plum when she won it in 2013 at La Jolla Country Day.
“All the other awards I’ve won have been special but Ms. Basketball was my number one goal,” said Littleton on Tuesday while at the University of Texas for an official visit.
“Coming out of San Diego, which doesn’t get a lot of love, and knowing Kelsey (Plum) got this award, and everything she’s accomplished, puts it at the next level for me. My hard work finally paid off,” Littleton continued.
As it came down to making the inevitable selection there were still some that doubted her prowess, but Littleton shook them off, and although way below her season average, she led the eight-girl roster Knights into North Hollywood to face Harvard-Westlake in the CIF Southern California Open Division playoffs. Despite being double-teamed and playing the No. 4 seed on the road, she had 26 points and three assists to lead No. 5 seed Bishop’s to an opening round 63-60 upset win.
In the SoCal Open semifinals at eventual state champion Clovis West of Fresno, the hosts blanketed Littleton with everything but the kitchen sink, but she still had 15 points with six rebounds and two assists in 73-32 loss in a game no one gave Bishop’s a prayer. Even so, the 15 points she tallied was more than anyone scored against Clovis West from Long Beach Poly in the regional final or any Archbishop Mitty of San Jose player could register in the CIF Open Division state championship.
That last game being a loss by such a wide margin and Littleton not being able to do much did create at least the possibility that someone could reach up and steal the Ms. Basketball honor from her. Others were considered, but no one from any of the top Open Division teams in the state went bonkers enough to do that.
Never mind Littleton played the final six weeks of the season pretty much coming into games cold because she wasn’t able to practice regularly due to extreme soreness on the outside of her left foot, a problem with the big toe on her right foot, and soreness in her wrist. She wasn’t close to being in the condition she was earlier in the season.
Besides the nagging injuries, Littleton had to play through the double and triple-teaming opponents used against her, and that wore her down physically in other areas.
“Teams liked to beat on me but I understand,” Littleton said. “When you’re a scorer, it’s part of the game.”
Still, after all was said and done, Littleton finished the season with 1,366 points and a 42.7 point per game average. According to the Cal-Hi Sports state records, she broke the previous record of 1,300 points set in 1992 by 1993 Ms. Basketball Danielle Viglione of Fair Oaks Del Campo. Littleton is also the first girl to ever average more than 40 points per game in a season. Other Ms. Basketball honorees on the all-time state list for that category include Jacki Gemelos of Stockton St. Mary’s (37.9 ppg in 2006) and Cheryl Miller of Riverside Poly (37.5 ppg in 1981).
Littleton also actually averaged a double-double after finishing with 350 rebounds for a 10.9 per game average. She also averaged 5.0 assists and 3.4 steals per game.
According to MaxPreps, Littleton finished first in the nation in scoring, field goals and free-throw percentage, and second in 3-point shooting this past season.
All the records – a statistician’s dream
If Cal-Hi Sports founder and master statistician Nelson Tennis were still alive he would be beside himself with all the places on the Cal-Hi Sports record lists Littleton has stamped her name on at or near the top.
For her career, Littleton finished with an even 4,300 points, and that pretty much obliterated the record of Charde Houston. Houston, who was nosed out by her friend Wiggins for the 2004 Ms. Basketball award, was also from the CIF San Diego Section and another pupil of Bishop’s head coach Marlon Wells when he coached her at San Diego High where she scored 3,837 points from 2001-04.
Littleton’s 33.3 career per game scoring average is second on that Cal-Hi Sports record list only to the great Miller, who averaged 33.8 points per game from 1979-1982 at Riverside Poly.
Nationally, Littleton finished No. 9 all time in career scoring on the list compiled by the National Federation of High School Associations.
Besides being the California scoring queen and top 10 finisher nationally, and a deadly long-range shooter, she’s also the top free throw shooter in state history for both a season and career. This past season Littleton made 344-of-382 free-throws for a 90.05-percent mark. The 344 made free-throws is also the most ever in a single season while the 22 free throws Littleton made in a game last season should also make that record list.
For her career, Littleton made 1,153 free-throws and that totally shattered the reported record of fellow CIF San Diego Section star Brandi Collato, who had 772 from 1998 to 2001 at Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach.
This past season, Littleton also made 150 three-point shots and while that is not the all-time mark for a season it’s second to the 169 Viglione made in 1992. In addition, her high water mark of 68 points in a game and 18 straight free-throws made in a game will get her spots on those record lists as well.
“Destiny had all the numbers in high school but it’s hard to compare her to (Kelsey) Plum, Charde (Houston) or Candice (Wiggins),” Wells remarked. “One thing, though, is her work ethic and skill set will take her to a higher level.”
In addition to the the Ms. Basketball honor, Littleton was the CIF San Diego Section Player of the Year, she was chosen as the Gatorade State Player of the Year, was a McDonald’s All-American, and she recently participated as a member of the victorious West team at the Jordan Brand game in Brooklyn (NY) at the Barclays Center.
Despite still not being totally healed from the season’s nagging injuries that limited her production at the McDonald’s game, she was 2-for-3 on 3-pointers and had six points, three rebounds and three assists in a surprisingly lopsided 122-81 West win in Brooklyn.
In early April, and along with Aquira DeCosta of Stockton St. Mary’s, Littleton was a member of the victorious Bounce Back team that won the 2017 USA Basketball 3×3 U18 National Tournament in Colorado Springs. Plus, she was named the tournament’s MVP. That earns her and Bounce Back a trip to Chengdu, China on June 28-July 2 for the FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup 2017.
Besides being in Austin for an official visit to Texas when this week’s Ms. Basketball honor was announced, Littleton has still not ruled out Southern California, where she de-committed, plus Cal is in the picture, and she’s also considering Arizona State.
More than just a student athlete
Not only does Littleton have numbers on the court and in the classroom, but she volunteers at the RADY Children’s Hospital in San Diego visiting seriously ill kids, collects sweaters, shoes, socks and other clothes for the homeless, and helps coach hoops for Bishop’s middle-schoolers.
“My passion is working with kids,” she remarked.
Wanting to help and work with kids would seem a natural for Littleton since as a youth she had to overcome family difficulties at home that began around sixth-grade.
That’s when she found basketball and Wells at EBO and basketball became her outlet.
“There were drugs and things and as a smart kid I didn’t want to know about,” reflected Littleton.
Knowing his own background, Wells has taken great pride in the strides Littleton has made.
“Destiny has come a long way,” Wells remarked. “When she first came in, she was a little defiant and rough around the edges, but she wanted to be coached and to get better. Now, it’s a complete 360-degree turnaround. She’s always happy, always encouraging to others.”
Whether or not Littleton makes a living playing basketball in the WNBA or overseas there is little doubt she will be a success in life in whatever she undertakes.
With the same or maybe even greater kind of work ethic in the classroom as on the hardwood, Littleton has a 4.1 weighted GPA at Bishop’s, and there is no more challenging academic atmosphere than at the nationally No. 26 ranked (academics) historic and picturesque downtown La Jolla campus that in some ways looks a lot like it did in 1909 when the school was founded.
“Even in the beginning the one place where she was smart was in the books, the academics,” Wells said.
Littleton wants to play professionally after college as a first goal but with her smarts it’s not surprising her ultimate goal is to be a doctor in the OB/GYN or pediatric fields.
Some day, she may be Dr. Littleton but for now the title Destiny Littleton bears with great pride is Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year.
MS. BASKETBALL STATE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
ALL-TIME HONOREES LIST
(All selections by Cal-Hi Sports)
Note: All-time list before 1980 compiled by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis, based on research.
2017 Destiny Littleton, La Jolla Bishop’s, 5-9
2016 Sabrina Ionescu, Orinda Miramonte, 6-0
2015 Katie Lou Samuelson, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-3
2014 Jordin Canada, Los Angeles Windward, 5-7
2013 Kelsey Plum, La Jolla Country Day, 5-10
2012 Nirra Fields, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 5-8
2011 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-0
2010 Chelsea Gray, Stockton St. Mary’s, 5-11
2009 Layshia Clarendon, San Bernardino Cajon, 5-9
2008 Jasmine Dixon, Long Beach Poly, 5-11
2007 Jeanette Pohlen, Brea Olinda, 6-1
2006 Jacki Gemelos, Stockton St. Mary’s, 6-0
2005 Courtney Paris, Piedmont, 6-4
2004 Candice Wiggins, La Jolla Country Day, 5-11
2003 Dominique Banks, Stockton St. Mary’s, 5-8
2002 Sa’de Wiley-Gatewood, Lynwood, 5-7 Soph.
2001 Loree Moore, Harbor City Narbonne, 5-8
2000 Diana Taurasi, Chino Don Lugo, 5-11
1999 Diana Taurasi, Chino Don Lugo, 5-11 Jr.
1998 Michelle Greco, La Crescenta Crescenta Valley, 5-10
1997 Erin Buescher, Santa Rosa Rincon Valley Christian, 6-2
1996 Maylana Martin, Perris, 6-3
1995 Renee Robinson, Atherton Sacred Heart Prep, 5-10
1994 Nicole Erickson, Brea Olinda, 5-7
1993 Danielle Viglione, Fair Oaks Del Campo, 5-10
1992 Charisse Sampson, Los Angeles Washington, 5-11
1991 Tanda Rucker, Berkeley, 507
1990 Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside, 6-5
1989 Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside, 6-5 Jr.
1988 Trise Jackson, Lynwood, 507
1987 Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma, 6-2
1986 Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma, 6-2 Jr.
1985 Sharon Turner, Oceanside El Camino, 5-9
1984 Doretha Conwell, Los Angeles Locke, 6-3
1983 Doretha Conwell, Los Angeles Locke, 6-3 Jr.
1982 Cheryl Miller, Riverside Poly, 6-2
1981 Cheryl Miller, Riverside Poly, 6-2 Jr.
1980 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8
1979 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8 Jr.
1978 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8 Soph.
1977 Denise Curry, Davis, 6-1
1976 Denise Curry, Davis, 6-1 Jr.
1975 Anita Ortega, Los Angeles, 5-9
1974 Ann Meyers, La Habra Sonora, 5-9
1973 Ann Meyers, Anaheim Connelly, 5-8 Jr.
1972 Ann Meyers, La Habra Sonora, 5-8 Soph.
Note: List also extends back with assorted years back to 1905 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book and Almanac.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend