FORT WAYNE – The ball was nearly as big as she was, back there at the beginning. But Sydney Buck always knew where it belonged.
Yeah, ever since I can remember, I was pretty good at shooting, says Homestead’s lights-out shooting guard.
And ever since would be?
Organized (basketball)? Like, kindergarten or first grade, Buck says.
So she’s been doing this awhile, in other words. And it shows.
A year ago she came to her junior season as the dependable wingman for senior Emily Bley, who’d wrecked her knee and was sitting out the first half of the season. Then she hurt it again and was gone for good – and into the void stepped Buck, who, because she had to, went from streaky shooter to supernova shooter in the span of one season.
I worked really hard in the offseason and stuff, just trying to get better at stuff I was struggling with, Buck recalls. Then I played really well the first couple games, and after that I just kind of took off, I guess.
Her coach, Rod Parker, seconds that.
Last year I think Sydney just grew up a lot just in overall confidence, Parker says. She shot the ball well, took a leadership role for our team. We did a lot to get Sydney shots, and she really capitalized on that last year. She shot the ball well for us all season.
And she comes to her senior season as the No. 1 option for a loaded team that has a wealth of options. All five starters are back. The record-setting point guard (Josie Fisher) and defensive stopper (Buck’s sister Savannah) are back. A pair of skilled freshmen, Karissa McLaughlin and Parker’s daughter Madisen, will only add to the arsenal.
As for Buck, all she brings to the table is a fistful of records and postseason honors. Her 547 points last season is a school record. Her 119 3-pointers and nine 3s in one game are school records. Her 90 percent free-throw percentage is a school record. And she was named first-team All-NHC and a junior Indiana All-Star.
And here’s the thing: It’s not like any of this was a big surprise, breakout season or not.
When she was in middle school, she was a very good shooter and good scorer, Parker says. The potential was there. And what people probably don’t realize is she had a really good sophomore season as well. So you could really see the evolution of Sydney’s game and how she has grown. She really has progressed each year.
It’s not as if she hasn’t worked at it. She plays AAU and league ball in the summer. And when she’s not doing that, she’s in the gym, hoisting 250 to 500 shots a day, sharpening her already considerable skills.
Now Buck, who’s headed for Butler next fall, has another full summer of work under belt. And a player who shot 46.6 percent and 44.5 percent on 3-pointers last year might be even more potent a weapon as a result.
She’s really working hard on her game to score off dribble as well, Parker says. That’s going to be something we’re gonna see this year.
Call it fair warning.