Crenshaw Magnet High School senior Avrie Blackwell really wants to play college hoops in the Ivy League. No recruiters have pursued the point guard so far, but her high SAT scores; a 4.32 grade-point average and success in more than a dozen Advance Placement courses may lead to the perfect opportunity on the court and in the classroom as she studies to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.
“Avrie has an incredible ability to take on new challenges and not quit,” her coach, Valerie Agee, said. By coincidence, Agee who is credentialed in biology, has known Avrie since she moved six years ago from a suburb in Georgia to South L.A. “I was her homeroom teacher at John Muir Middle School.”
At Crenshaw, the coach said, “Every day, Avrie has the opportunity to get better, to practice, to endure frustration, to learn new things, and overcome things that could be fear-based. She does just that. Her attention to detail, work ethic, ability to ask the right questions and love of learning will make her an asset to any institution. It is a pleasure coaching her.”
In a recent 64-28 blowout of Fremont High School, she was the Lady Cougars’ top scorer. On the court, she hustled, blocked shots, passed, stole the ball and shot over, under and around opponents.
Her father, Cory Blackwell, once played professional basketball player for the Seattle SuperSonics as well as overseas. “He never wanted me to play,” said Avrie, who is 17, and 5 feet-9 inches tall. “He wanted me to stay academically focused. He has come to terms with it now, but he always thought I was going to be the smart kid.”
In classes at Crenshaw’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math magnet, she also is a top scorer. “I came to Crenshaw because I wanted to take high-level science and math,” Avrie said.
Her routine: “Every day, I come to school, I go to class, I take rigorous notes. I come to practice (except Tuesday due to professional development for teachers.) I go home, I do homework, I study. I don’t watch TV. I don’t sleep a lot. I dismantled my Xbox during my sophomore year. I may watch a movie on Netflix on Saturday, or if I have extra time, read a book.”
To explore what college is like, she took calculus, economics and political science courses at West L.A. College last semester, after her high schools classes.
At Crenshaw, her current course load includes eight AP classes: biology, calculus, chemistry, economics, government, statistics, physics and psychology. She has taken Advanced Placement courses since her freshman year, including Russian.
I’ve visited many countries, and my favorite is Russia,” Avrie said.
She travels because her father is a missionary with the nondenominational International Churches of Christ. He is based in South Central L.A, which is how Avrie got here. “At Crenshaw, I love the family atmosphere and how everybody supports each other.”
Today, she is waiting for more college acceptances.
“I have applied to four Ivy League schools; three non-Ivies and seven state schools. I have been accepted to NYU, University of Oregon, Seton Hall and the University of Florida.”
Her top choices include: Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Cornell and Stanford.
“I really want to go to Columbia,” she said. “It’s D2 (a Division 2 school); I could play basketball.”
-Gayle Pollard Terry
Thursday: Read about a high school teacher who started at Verdugo Hills High School in 1965 and never left.