Posted On: 04/11/19 10:35 PM

True point guards are few and far between in today’s game, as more and more players are hunting their own shot on a consistent basis. The term “combo guard” more oftentimes than not, means a shooting guard in a point guard’s sized body. Washington does have some pure point guards and junior Dayla Ballena just so happens to be one of the very best. The 5’7 floor general has made some major strides in her game in the last year and the accolades and college attention is starting to resonate as a result.

Kentridge High School has been home to a lot of talent in recent years and Dayla Ballena is apart of the talent surge in Kent. In her freshman and sophomore seasons, she received zero accolades acknowledging her contributions on the court. Scoring 30 points and displaying pure domination with size is not necessarily her strong point, but the 5’7 point guard found her niche just before the winter of her junior season. As apart of her maturation process as a player, Dayla mentioned, “my experiences throughout last summer not only made me more of a leader, but it brought me closer to my goal of being a confident, aggressive and mature point guard.” Attending camps and running the point for her former club team, the Seattle Stars, helped her gain the edge that she felt was missing. She made her presence felt this winter, being voted onto the NPSL First Team All-League and All-Defense rosters. When asked how she would describe her own game she says, “I would describe myself generally as a true point guard. I find joy in assisting my teammates. I am a floor general. I create for teammates and myself. I would say that I am quick, but at my quickest on defense . I can get to the hoop when I need to and knock down shots from the arc and beyond.” 

Dayla has a strong work ethic and has spent her entire life working in the gym to ultimately play basketball at the highest level she can and gain a scholarship. It has been a pleasure to watch Dayla play for the last 7-8 years and track her progress. Prep Girls Hoops caught up with the pure point to see what she needs to work on and how the recruitment process has been going so far.

Interview:

1) What are the top two things you are working on at this stage of your career?
One thing I’ve always worked on and will continue to work on is being aggressive consistently. I feel that, that is part of the reason I was overlooked during my earlier years in high school. I  wasn’t constantly being aggressive and attacking my opponent, but now I believe that it is only right that I take an opportunity when I see one. Another thing that I will continue to develop is my patience and maturity on the floor. At higher levels, as a smaller point guard, I am going to have to stay poised and make the right decisions as much as possible. As I grow and work my way into my last year of aau, I have a chance to play at the highest level (the adidas Gauntlet/NW Blazers) and be able to prepare myself even more for collegiate level basketball. 
2) Take us through the Eastern Washington offer. How did it go down and what did that feel like?
At the beginning of my junior year, I visited Eastern for a day. It is was an amazing experience and it made me really excited for college. They made me feel at home and welcomed me with open arms. After a day of touring the campus and during the tailgate party, Head Coach Wendy Schuller offered me a position on their basketball team. At that moment, I felt a huge weight drop off my shoulders. I knew that everything I worked for would soon pay off. I’m still extremely grateful and happy that I’ve been given the opportunity to play basketball at the Division 1 level. Nevertheless, I know I still have work to do. 
3) How has the recruitment process been for you?

The recruitment process in September was crazy! September 1st (the first day I could be contacted directly) was very exciting! Several schools from the Big Sky conference, Pac 12, Ivy League and multiple others were and have been in contact with me since. This experience has pushed me to work even harder. I knew that if colleges showed this much interest after one summer, It would make my goal even closer to reach.

Recruitment Update:

As mentioned, Dayla is being recruited to the Division 1 level. As of right now, Dayla has said that she will stay in touch with all of the schools that have been recruiting her headed into her final club season, competing with Steve Klees’ Northwest Blazers club. She loves her home state, but she is willing to travel far for school if it is the best fit for what she is looking for. So, what is she looking for? “I take pride in my education and what happens in the classroom. Any school that makes education a priority is high on my list.” Dayla hopes to take multiple unofficial visits this club season, then cut her list down. When she is down to a short list of schools her plan is to take some officials and make her final decision following the summer. “Until then, you’ll find me working hard in the lab!” 

Dayla’s Club Season Schedule: 

May 17-19
Phoenix, Arizona
AZ Elite Spring Fling

July 6-9
Indianapolis, Indiana
Hoosier Heat Classic

July 10-12
Indianapolis, Ind.
Adidas Gauntlet

July 21-25
Atlanta, Georgia
Adidas Gauntlet Nationals