In the previous 16 installments of the McDonald’s All-American Girls Basketball Game, only 10 players came from North Carolina, and none were from the Triangle.
Only one player – Jessica Breland of Bertie – was east of Winston-Salem, with the rest scattered around Charlotte and western North Carolina.
But Neuse Christian’s Isabela Leite Nicoletti has the Triangle on the board at last.
The senior and Florida State recruit was picked for this year’s game, which will be March 28 in Atlanta.
Leite, teammate Izabel DeAngelo Verajao and former teammate Maria Albiero, now at BYU, moved to the Triangle in the summer of 2015, hoping that staying in the United States year-round would give them a better opportunity to play college basketball. All three, along with two other Brazillian players who later enrolled at Friendship Christian, played for the Carolina Waves basketball program.
They found a home at Neuse Christian, which was the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1A runner-up last year, going 27-1. The Lions also won the National Christian Schools Athletic Association title.
Leite, a 5-foot-9 shooting guard, is averaging 19.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals for the 14-3 Lions this season.
The first girls’ McDonald’s All-American Game was in 2002. Leite joins the likes of Rashanda McCants (Asheville/UNC), Joy Cheek (South Mecklenburg/Duke) and Jatarie White (Providence Day/South Carolina) as previous selections from the Old North State.
Several area boys’ basketball players have been selected during that time, including this year when Coby White of Greenfield School in Wilson was chosen.
Previous girls’ selections from N.C.
2003: Camille Little (Carver)
2004: Chante’ Black (East Forsyth)
2005: Rashanda McCants (Asheville)
2006: Jessica Breland (Bertie), Joy Cheek (South Mecklenburg)
2007: Cetera DeGraffenreid (Smoky Mountain)
2011: Cierra Burdick (Butler)
2014: Jatarie White (Providence Day)
2015: Stephanie Watts (Weddington)
2017: Janelle Bailey (Providence Day)
2018: Isabela Leite Nicoletti (Neuse Christian)