PALM HARBOR — The hoop in her Florida driveway is a long way from Provo, Utah, but to a young Kristine Fuller it was just like being at the Marriott Center. That’s where Brigham Young University plays its home basketball games, and that’s where Fuller hoped she would end up one day.
She would take thousands of shots at that driveway basket, sometimes imagining she was hitting the game winner for the Cougars. Her mother, Lori, is a BYU alum. She has aunts, uncles and cousins in Utah.
Fuller’s rise through recreational and AAU leagues was fueled by possibly playing in college. And with a little luck and a lot of persistence, it was going to be at BYU.
“Ever since I was little I was telling people, ‘I’m going to play basketball on the BYU girls team,’ ” Fuller said. “It’s always been my dream.
In my sophomore year, that’s when I got really serious about it.’’
By that time, Fuller was a big-time talent at Palm Harbor University. She continued to improve in her junior year, when she averaged 24 points per game.
As a 6-foot ball handling guard who can score from anywhere on the floor, Fuller is certainly a Division I-A talent. She sent letters and e-mails to BYU coach Jeff Judkins, as well as to Utah State, where her brother, Chad, graduated. She hired a recruiting service to get the word out, hoping for a response from the Cougars.
When an offer came before the start of the season, Fuller was elated. All those shots in the driveway paid off. She was heading to Utah with no reservations.
Well, except for maybe one.
“I’m still kind of nervous about the snow,’’ Fuller said.
Her immediate future secure, Fuller now has one more goal. PHU has not won a district title since she joined the team as a freshman.
The Hurricanes are 19-2 this season and poised to win the district championship.
They have not won a PCAC championship during her tenure, but are a virtual lock to play Lakewood later this month for the title.
Fuller is averaging 23 points with a season-high 41 last week against East Lake. She has scored 1,637 points in her PHU career.
She is the Hurricanes’ go-to player, and opponents know it.
“It’s brought a lot more pressure,’’ Fuller said. “I’ve seen a lot more box-and-ones and double teams. It’s actually been really good. It’s helped me improve as a player.’’
Coach Darian Dublin, in his seventh year as ’Canes coach, said he could tell from Fuller’s first practice that she was going to have an outstanding high school career.
“After watching so many kids play, when I first saw Kristine I knew she was going to be a player,’’ he said. “I knew she was eventually going to take over this team. She hasn’t let me down.’’
While Fuller has one eye on college, she said she is still focused on her senior year at PHU. She wants to lead the Hurricanes as far as she can before heading off to Utah.
“Since I have a scholarship to BYU I want people to realize I have a scholarship to BYU,’’ Fuller said. “I want to go out with a bang, leave my mark.’’
Rodney Page can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org