It hasn’t always been easy for La Jolla Bishop’s senior Destiny Littleton on her way to the state career scoring record. She just makes it look that way. As she now moves up on the national career scoring list, Littleton and head coach Marlon Wells gave the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan exclusive access and first-time revelations during a visit when she broke the 4,000-point barrier.
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Prior to Saturday, February 4, only 13 girls basketball players in the country had ever registered 4,000 career points.
Now, after senior McDonald’s All-American Destiny Littleton from The Bishop’s School of La Jolla dropped in 35 points in a 75-41 win over San Diego Lincoln two Saturdays ago, California’s all-time scoring queen joined them to become No. 14 at the time on a list that is compiled by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Very befittingly, and in a game in which Littleton made a real effort to get her teammates involved, point No. 29 came on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter that came from 12 feet beyond the half court line or around 54 feet out.
Besides all the fanfare around her record-setting performance, Littleton also triple-doubled by adding 14 rebounds and 10 assists with five steals.
The Cal-Hi Sports State Freshman, Sophomore and Junior of the Year, and leading candidate for this season’s Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year came into the game with 3,993 points. She had already passed Charde Houston (3,837 points at San Diego from 2001-04) to claim California’s top spot on January 14 against Ramona, and had already gone by Haley Fowler (3,852 points at Smyer, Texas from 2009-12), Jaime Walz (3,872 points at Ft. Thomas Highlands, Kentucky from 1993-96) and Kristen Somogyi (3,899 points at New Brunswick St. Peters, New Jersey from 1989-92) on the national list.
With her effort against Lincoln at the Coaches versus Cancer event at Mira Mesa (San Diego), not only did Littleton get to 4K but at 4,028 points she put herself in a position to move past several others on the list. A week later that’s exactly what happened.
The next Tuesday she went for a blazing 62 points in a 92-60 win over San Diego Horizon Christian. That put her at 4,090, which moved her past Brittany Johnson (4,031 points at Olney East Richland, Illinois from 2004-07), Kendra Neal (4,044 points at Pelican, Louisiana from 1989-92) and current Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey. She had 4,075 points from 1977-80 at Hammond, Louisiana.
Three days later, the USC-bound standout had another triple-double against Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, but held tight in the No. 11 spot on the national list with 4,122 points.
Then last Saturday in the President’s Day Shootout at Chula Vista Mater Dei, Littleton went to the No. 10 spot on the NFHS all-time list after netting 30 points (nine rebounds, four assists) in limited action of a running clock win over El Cajon Granite Hills. That effort got her past current Vanderbilt junior guard Rebekah Dahlman. She had 4,131 points from 2010-13 at Braham, Minnesota.
With one game remaining in the regular season this week and four to five games in the playoffs depending on how well the Knights due in the CIF San Diego Section Open Division, and then in the CIF Southern Regional playoffs, Littleton may very well get as high as No. 7 on the NFHS list. She did not play in Tuesday night’s game at the Rock Academy of San Diego but will certainly play Friday at crosstown arch-rival La Jolla Country Day. At 4,152 points, she needs 168 points to pass No. 8 Katie Anthony and her 4,319 points from 2000-03 at Anacoco, Louisiana.
“Looking at it, 4,000 points is a lot of points,” Littleton reflected. “Some people would say who did you score it against? What difference does it make?”
“When I hit 3,000 I was like – wow! That was a lot for me,” Littleton continued. “Now, to be up there on that list is a milestone.”
Indeed, when you look at Destiny, her career high is only 68 points compared to some players even on California’s list like Cheryl Miller (3,446 points at Riverside Poly from 1979-82) and Lisa Leslie (2,896 points from 1987-90 at Inglewood Morningside). Both reached 100 points or more as career highs. Houston had a 71-point career-high game.
A lot of it has to do with Bishop’s head coach Marlon Wells. He coached Houston during his time at San Diego and knows what it’s like to have a player chasing a scoring record.
Not only is there a running clock mercy rule that didn’t exist for Houston, Miller and Leslie and a significant number of the other names on the 4,000 national list, but Wells usually takes her out before any of the games goes to a running clock or unless she has to play to the end.
In the Ramona game that was stopped for a ceremony with Houston present, it was just after halftime and out of respect for the situation that Wells took Littleton out after a 30-point effort in a season that has her averaging nearly 50 points per game.
“I sat her right there and then,” Wells remarked.
According to MaxPreps, Littleton is the leading scorer (46.8 ppg) and has made the most baskets (394) of any player in the nation, and she’s over 300 points ahead of the second-leading scorer in that category. She’s also currently first in 3-pointers with 139, and third in free-throw percentage at 90 percent.
Other records in sight
Littleton has now missed two games due to nagging injuries but she still had 1,217 points so far this season entering this week, and the all-time California record according to the Cal-Hi Sports Most Points (Season) list is 1,300 by Danielle Viglione in 1992 at Fair Oaks Del Campo. That means last Saturday Littleton passed Miller (1,197 in 1982) for No. 2 all time and the top spot is in serious jeopardy.
Before she is done, Littleton could very well have a whole slew of slots on various Cal-Hi Sports record lists.
After dropping in three 3-pointers against Granite Hills, her 139 treys passed Viglione and her 137 in 1993. She now claims the No. 3 spot on the Most Three-Point Field Goals Made (Season) list. Besides topping the Most Points (Career) list her 1,146 points as a sophomore and 1,178 points as a junior are already way up on the Most Points (Season) list.
Other places on Cal-Hi Sports record lists she’s chasing include free-throw percentage for a season and career, plus others.
In her first season as a freshman, Destiny was the second Littleton on the team as current St. John’s junior Imani Littleton (no relation) was getting a lot of the spotlight and demanded the ball. In that freshman season, Littleton still averaged 20.3 points a game and scored 610 points. For most girls that’s an incredible season regardless of grade class, but Destiny sees it a bit different.
“It wasn’t just Imani,” Littleton remarked. “At that time I wasn’t the player I am today. I didn’t have that killer mindset like I have today. I wish I could have done more my freshman year.”
Taking its toll
The amazing thing about this season is Littleton has been coming into games cold because she hasn’t been practicing for many weeks due to extreme soreness on the outside of her left foot, a problem with the big toe on her right foot, and her right wrist was recently tweaked as well.
Besides the injuries, she’s playing through the double- and triple-teaming that the opposition is useing against her.
“Teams like to beat on me but I understand,” said Littleton, who didn’t play in this week’s game vs. Rock Academy due to all the injuries. “When you’re a scorer, it’s part of the game.”
Stats in the Classroom
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.
Teammate chasing a record
and friends off the court
While Littleton chases scoring records, her Yale-bound senior teammate Alex Aguirre recently went over 400 3-pointers for her career and currently sits at 116 this season and 423 for her career after dropping in five last Saturday afternoon then seven more to go with 36 points this week vs. Rock Academy. The career total is currently good for No. 4 on the career 3-point list. This season’s final total will make that list just like her 142 treys last year did.
Speaking of teammates, Littleton is a total team player as is exhibited by her assists and leadership of a young Knights squad, but off the court she has her own set of friends.
“Our team is mostly underclass and my friends are mostly seniors,” Littleton. “A lot of my friends are guys on the football team.”
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.
Basketball was her outlet
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 in Spring Valley that began around sixth-grade.
That’s when she found basketball and Wells through his EBO club program and now she has a new life with basketball as an outlet.
“There were drugs and things as a smart kid I didn’t want to know about,” reflected Littleton, who is no longer living at home but resides in La Jolla. “Very few people know about what I call my second life, but now my life is normal.”
Knowing his own background, Wells has taken great pride in the strides Littleton has made.
“Destiny is a kid that wants to be great,” Wells said. “Her work ethic made it easy to coach her but the best part was it was fun seeing her develop both on and off the court from where she was.”
Other sports and outside activities
Littleton has done track and field but will forego it this upcoming season.
“I was going to do track for conditioning but I’m so beat up from the season I’m passing on it this year.”
Music and movies
With everything Littleton has going on it doesn’t leave her much free time.
“Mostly hoops and a passion for kids but when I have free time I like to hang out with friends and go to movies,” was her response about outside interests.
“Will Smith is my favorite actor and for music I listen to a majority of Rap but I like Hip-Hop, R&B and even Country once in a while,” continued Littleton.
Career beyond basketball
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. However, because of the rigors of college basketball she’ll study business at USC rather than taking pre-med courses.
“I’ve talked to a lot of advisors about how long it takes to become a doctor. I can’t be the player I want to be and go pre-med, so based on their advice I’m pursuing a course of study to get into medical school without pre-med.”
Advice for young girls like she once was
“Trust your dreams and never let outsiders or your history make you change your dreams and goals. That’s what helped me get past things. It was my love of basketball.”
We have a feeling you may be reading more details about Destiny Littleton’s life in early April.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend