STORRS -- Imagine the kismet of the moment for Mater Dei girls basketball coach Kevin Kiernan on his first day on the job four summers ago.
The Santa Ana, Calif., school was known for spawning college quarterbacks; some good, like Matt Barkley and Colt Brennan, some great, like Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart and John Huarte.
But Kiernan, a former sports writer who once covered the NFL, knew that wouldn't help his program.
Where would his quarterback come from?
As it turned out, she walked through the front door of the gym. She was just 14 years old.
"It didn't take a genius to figure out that Kaleena was going to be pretty good," Kiernan said.
That would be Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the kid who loves scrapbooking and cooking breakfast. She's also the kid who didn't like basketball when she was in third grade but nine years later is one of the greatest in California history.
"We were fortunate to have a player of that caliber for four years," Kiernan said. "It's rare for a player to come to a program in the ninth grade, mature physically and be prepared to play, already 6 feet and strong.
"She's likely the best shooter I have ever seen, incredible accuracy from three-point range. She can play inside and out and is faster than she may look.
She's one of those players that you rarely get in high school."
During her high school career, Mosqueda-Lewis, a team captain as a sophomore, led her team in scoring each year she played. Mater Dei won state championships in her junior and senior seasons.
The program was ranked No. 1 last season by USA Today and she was the consensus 2011 national high school player of the year, in addition to winning the Naismith Award and being called player of the year by WBCA/State Farm, Gatorade, Parade, USA Today and ESPN HoopGurlz.
Her forte is outside shooting.
"I would hope so," KML said, "because I practice it every day."
She made a school-record nine threes against Fairfax on March 8 and made 337 career threes, more than anyone in her school's history. Mosqueda-Lewis also holds the school record for points (2,744) and rebounds (876).
She averaged 22.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a senior, setting a career high with 33 points in the state championship game.
And from the time she was in ninth grade, she knew where she wanted to go to college.
"Ever since I was a little girl, my dad [stepfather Khairi Ali] has been telling me that if I wanted to do something great I needed to go for it full throttle," KML said. "You can't go halfway, it's all or nothing. So if you want to play basketball, go to UConn and do it all the way."
She offered UConn an oral commitment as a sophomore, a very rare but pleasant surprise.
"Some kids just know," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "They come [to campus] to see what they think it will be like after growing up imagining what UConn may be like.
Then they get here, watch a couple practices, watch a game, get a feel for the campus and the players.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Freshman Forward
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis: California Player Of Year Knew She'd End Up At UConn
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