Amanda Muse Continues A Family Legacy Of Basketball Success — And It May Lead Brentwood’s Heritage High To New Heights In 2023 •
If ever a girl was born to play basketball, it’s Heritage High’s Amanda Muse.
Her father Doug is 6-foot-10, and was a basketball star at UC Santa Barbara before playing professionally overseas.
Her mother Amy is 6-3, and was also a star at UCSB, and also played professionally overseas.
Her older sister Abigail is 6-3, and is a junior starter for Boise State, averaging 10.8 points and 7.8 rebounds a game for the Mountain West school.
And Amanda is the best of the bunch.
“Her athleticism at her height (6-4) is what makes her stand out,” said Mark Hurtado, her new coach at Heritage in Brentwood. “She’s one of the fastest girls on the team, but she’s also super-competitive. She doesn’t like to lose.”
Kelly Sopak, her coach with Cal Stars, a summer Nike powerhouse, adds: “She has a terrific basketball IQ, but more important, a natural feel for the game. Amanda can have a huge impact on a game without ever touching the ball.
“Her ability to defend and rim protect is at a pro level right now,” continued Sopak, who coached New York Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu at Miramonte-Orinda. “She is a willing passer and does not need a ton of touches — she is a team player.”
And though Muse has been the focal point of her high school team, she’s just as happy playing a role that helps her team win.
“It’s more fun not to be the star,” she says. “At Cal Stars, I love playing in a system where even if the ball doesn’t come to me all the time, I can still make a difference.”
But this coming season at Heritage, avoiding the spotlight will be much tougher.
“She pretty much has to touch the ball every time down the floor,” Hurtado said – and he should know, since he started coaching her when she was in second grade.
Hurtado had both Amanda and Abigail on his CYO teams, and it didn’t take long for him to realize Amanda was something special. Oddly, though, it was playing with boys at recess that really lit her competitive fire.
“When I was four or five, my parents forced me to try basketball. But after that, they let me decide,” she said. “In elementary school, I’d play with the boys at recess, and that’s when I began to love basketball.”
And that, if nothing else, should tell you that she doesn’t mind contact.
“I love being a post,” she said, which is unusual these days when everyone wants to be a wing and rain 3-pointers like Steph Curry. “I love how physical it is.”
But Muse may not be banging on the block for long, because her long-term future is as a stretch four.
“She is saddled with being the five in both club and high school,” says Sopak, “but she has the ability to play the four and the five in college and beyond. She also is a great passer, and more important, a willing passer.”
“I’m guessing she’ll lead us in assists,” the Patriots coach said, which is something Muse would enjoy.
“One of my favorite parts of offense is passing,” she says. “It’s so rewarding — sometimes I like to pass more than I like to score.”
But at 6-4, Muse also is death to flying things around the rim. “I love a good block,” she quipped, and with her agility and anticipation, she’ll get plenty.
Muse is also coming into the season fresh and excited. Unlike many players, she spent the fall playing water polo, and she says it did nothing but help her.
“We get so strong in the water,” she said, “but it takes the impact out of it.”
Water polo is also surprisingly similar to basketball strategically, with zones and man-to-man coverages, transitions and fast breaks. And of course, college coaches appreciate multi-sport athletes.
Certainly Cori Close of UCLA wasn’t put off by Muse’s second sport, and got an early commitment. Even though both of her parents and her older sister had been recruited and had prepared her for the process, it was still difficult to go through.
“About this time last year I was feeling overwhelmed,” Amanda said. “I wanted to figure it out sooner rather than later.”
So after her visit to UCLA, she was sold.
“A lot of the boxes were checked,” she said, “but when I was immersed in the team dynamic, it was so fun.”
Yes, a high school senior tossed off the phrase “immersed in the team dynamic” without a hitch in mid-interview. Clearly, Muse has more than just a high basketball IQ.
“She is very mature and cerebral,” Sopak said. “That maturity and intelligence really helped her during the recruiting process.”
But before she heads to UCLA and maybe the WNBA, Muse has some unfinished business at Heritage.
She and three senior teammates, Caitlyn Smith, Alissyia Petroni and Juliette Fajeau, have been playing together since their days on Hurtado’s CYO teams. They want to make a statement this year after not quite matching expectations in the past.
“I’ve watched their teams during the time I coached at Deer Valley (Antioch),” Hurtado said. “And I always was disappointed at how much they left on the table.”
The Patriots will begin the season ranked No. 12 in SportStars Preseason NorCal Top 20. They will test themselves immediately by hosting No. 1 Archbishop Mitty-San Jose in a 1 p.m. matinee season-opener on Nov. 26.
“This season we have a lot of opportunity,” Muse said, who is in serious pursuit of postseason success and ready to lead Heritage deep into the playoffs. “My sense of urgency is high.”
The girl who was born to play basketball is ready to realize her potential.