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Wednesday, February 20, 2013
No. 1 sophomore Asia Durr is a born leader

By Walter Villa

Asia Durr has always been advanced, whether it was entering the world just minutes after her mother went into labor or showing off her fancy dribbling at age 3.

The No. 1 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Terrific 25 for the 2015 class, Durr was born a month early, weighing just 4 pounds, 5 ounces. She remained in the hospital for five days before her father, Terry, and her mother, Audrey, could bring her home.

"It had been a difficult pregnancy," Audrey said. "But on the day I delivered, the doctor was still scrubbing up when Asia came out full-force.

"A baby born that quickly was so unheard of that a lot of the medical staff came by to see the 17-minute baby."

The doctors, though, would not let Asia go home until she weighed 5 pounds, which they thought would take two weeks. But within days, Asia was drinking a full 3-ounce bottle, twice the appetite of most newborns.

"When I saw that, all my fears were calmed," Audrey said. "She was a hungry baby."

Durr has grown into a 5-foot-10 star guard at St. Pius X (Atlanta). She is averaging 18.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals on a team that is hopeful of improving on last season's regional-final finish.

Just a sophomore, Durr already has more than 30 scholarship offers, including from most of the ACC and SEC schools as well as powerhouses Connecticut, Baylor, and Notre Dame.

"I will probably decide on a college toward the end of my junior year," said Durr, who has a 3.2 GPA and an interest in studying sports management. "Staying home or going away doesn't matter to me. I just want to pick the school that fits me."

Durr, who is shooting 50 percent from the field, 35 percent from 3-point range and 86 percent on free throws, seems destined to become the first in her family to play sports in college. The family's previous claim to athletic fame was her maternal grandfather, Willie Matthews, who played in the Negro Leagues.

Snipes said Durr is nothing if not serious and mature on the court. She started several games as a freshman on a 24-5 team that otherwise featured all seniors.

Durr was actually more comfortable at that time coming off the bench and learning from the veterans, even though her 13-point scoring average led the team.

"She is a student of the game," Snipes said. "She understands the nuance, and she has the ability to adapt to how the game is being called. If the game is physical, she can play that way. If it's up-tempo or she needs to choke it back, she can do that, too. She is mature beyond her years."

She is also versatile.

"She's the classic combo guard," Snipes said. "She has the vision to play point guard, and she could do that at the next level if that is what her college coach needs. But I think she will be more a wing who can really score."

Durr is ambidextrous -- she writes and eats with her right hand, but shoots with her left. Snipes said Durr can dribble to her right but needs to develop more confidence to showcase that in games.

That's all part of the learning process for Durr. Her shot selection, Snipes reasons, will get better. So will her ability to recognize when it's best to pass to shift the defense and get a better opportunity somewhere else on the floor.

One of the best things about Durr, Snipes said, is her ability to rise up to challenges. When St. Pius played Decatur (Conyers, Ga.) earlier this season, Durr stood tall against 6-foot senior guard Jordan Dillard, a Villanova recruit. Durr had game-highs in points (20), rebounds (9) and assists (3) as St. Pius, ranked third in the state, beat 10th-ranked Decatur 50-37. Dillard was held to four points.

"Asia doesn't play down against lesser opponents," Snipes said. "Asia plays to her own level, and then she gears up a little extra when it's more of a challenge.

"What I love is that she has started to take a more businesslike approach to the game, asking questions about our opponents, wanting to know when they press and who she will be guarding. She's very advanced as a prospect."

But it's also important to remember that she's still a 15-year-old kid.

" 'SpongeBob' always gets me laughing," she said of her favorite television show. "You never get too old for 'SpongeBob.' "

And the story of her driveway exploits as a 3-year-old never gets old to her father.

"I saw her do a crossover move where she took it between her legs and behind her back," Terry said. "I knew I had something special right then."