Only a sophomore yet averaging close to 30 points per game, there seems to be little that gives McGuffey’s Sammie Weiss trouble on the basketball court.
Unless, of course, she happens to be standing on one when forced to talk about herself and explain why she’s already been so good, so successful, at such a young age.
“I really don’t think I’m anything special,” Weiss said. “I think we’re all the same. We’re all basketball players.”
Weiss may be a basketball player and may want to blend in with her teammates, but there’s nothing ordinary about McGuffey’s sophomore scoring sensation, who has been gaining a reputation around Western Pennsylvania as one of the WPIAL’s best.
A 5-10 guard who’s more comfortable slashing to the hoop than spotting up for jumpers, Weiss is averaging 28.3 points, 4.3 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game for the Highlanders.
Enough, apparently, to have McGuffey (6-0, 12-1) winning games by an average of 35.9 points and challenging for the program’s first section title since 1990 and fourth overall.
“That’s our goal,” Weiss said. “We’ve worked hard, and we just have that goal. It hasn’t been (done) for 20 years. We just want to be the first in a long time to do that.”
Weiss grew up in an athletic household, her mom playing softball, her dad football and basketball. By second grade, Weiss would “host little things in my driveway,” which is basically nerve-speak for playing pickup games by herself. She’d create a hypothetical situation in her head and practice making buzzer-beaters.
Only Weiss, struggling to explain this, counted the clock a little differently: 2 … 3 … 1 … game point., she said. Hey, maybe others should start playing by Weiss’ rules.
“She’s a very humble girl,” McGuffey coach Amanda Burchett said. “She will never tell you how good she is. I think she doesn’t realize how good and how naturally talented she is. She just goes out and works as hard as she can in any situation.”
And sometimes that work can look awful pretty.
During one particular instance at Tuesday’s practice, Weiss stole the ball on defense – she’s averaging 7.3 steals per game – dribbled up the right side of court, avoided a defender by flipping the ball behind her back, dished left when she got to the foul line, cut to the hoop and finished the give-and-go with her left hand, no need to dribble.
“She gives 100 percent, no matter what drill it is, what game it is, no matter what we’re doing,” Burchett said.
That much was evident this summer when Burchett would work with Weiss on driving to the basket – with the help of resistance bands.
“My coach would pull me, and I would drive through people, just get faster,” said Weiss, who plays AAU ball for the Washington Impact. “I would run halfway down the court, and she would pull me back. I just get stronger if there’s people on me.”
For all of her success on the court, Weiss isn’t completely comfortable with what to do off of it.
Instead of worrying how she looks or yapping about how she can do this or that, Weiss secretly hopes the only question she has to answer is that of her favorite color, just because she says that’s the only one she knows the answer to. (The color is green, by the way.)
Her teammates, of course, laugh, ribbing Weiss for her awkward stab at fame. Especially older sister Cassie, a junior guard/forward who essentially plays Sammie’s role as precocious star on McGuffey’s softball team.
She especially gets a kick out of Sammie’s shyness.
“I always joke with her because she’s so quiet with other people sometimes,” Cassie Weiss said.
Is that a problem? You know, to follow someone who would rather leader by example?
Hardly, Cassie says.
“We actually gravitate to her, not because of all the points she scores, but because of how she acts,” Cassie Weiss explained. “She’s just herself.”
With 788 career points, there’s little doubt Weiss will get to 1,000, perhaps by the end of the season. At this rate, even 2,000 seems attainable, which would thrust her into the discussion of the area’s greatest players.
But neither Weiss nor Burchett can think about that now. Not with a section title to win and team goals still to accomplish.
“I think she’s probably the best player in our section,” Burchett said. “As far as the WPIAL, I’m not real familiar with the other teams, but I know around this area she’s probably one of the best players that I’ve seen in a long time.”