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UCLA-bound Zaidi at home in Burbank

Jeff Tully

The blacktops and city park courts of Burbank is where Shaina

Zaidi first learned to love the sport of basketball.

Beginning in the Burbank Park, Recreation and Community Services


leagues, Zaidi also developed a taste for competition, along with a

flair for a game that has become an extension of her being.

With basketball such a big part of her life, it’s not surprising

that Zaidi has become a successful girls’ player for L.A. Marlborough


School. And it’s also not hard to believe the senior will be roaming

the floor next season for UCLA.

“Burbank feels like home for Shaina,” Nasir Zaidi said of his

daughter, who attended Roosevelt Elementary and Luther Burbank Middle

School. “She played a lot of ball here in the park leagues, and at

school, and she hasn’t forgot about it.”

Zaidi -- who played at Burroughs High as a freshman -- was back in

the city Saturday, showing off the talent and skills that have made


her a high school standout.

In a Sunshine League game against host Bellarmine-Jefferson, Zaidi

scored 13 of her game-high 24 points in the second half to lead the

Mustangs to a 55-45 victory. She also tallied four rebounds and four


Zaidi sliced and weaved her way through the Bell-Jeff defense,

setting up offensive chances for the Mustangs. She seemed most at

ease shooting the mid-range jump-shot at the top of the key.


Zaidi has helped Marlborough (11-4) thrive, as the team is ranked

No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division IVAA.

Although Zaidi was impressive as a scorer against the Guards, she

was brilliant as a passer. Throughout the game, the 5-foot-8 point

guard dished out no-look passes and crisp offerings that elicited ohs

an ahs from the partisan crowd.

“Shaina realizes there is more to the game than scoring,”

Marlborough Coach George Quintero said. “She knows that the crisp

pass may be just as good as a shot that goes in the basket.

“What also is great about her is that she has a real good feel for

the game and she’s a competitor. She likes big games, and that’s a

good thing. She likes to step it up in the games that mean a lot.”

The groundwork for Zaidi’s path to UCLA was likely laid a few

years. From age 10, she has participated at various Bruin basketball


“I have always followed UCLA,” said Zaidi, sporting a Bruin’s

sweatshirt after Saturday’s win. “I just want to continue to improve

my game and prove to UCLA that I’m going to be able to play at the

next level.”

What helped Zaidi -- who plays travel ball for the Finest

Basketball Club -- land in Westwood was a fine season last year. She

was a first-team All-CIF selection, averaging 22 points, eight

rebounds and six assists a game.

Before she heads to UCLA, Zaidi said there is one aspect of her

game she is trying to improve.

“I am trying to be more of a leader,” said Zaidi, who is also an

accomplished tennis player, much like current Bruin senior Michelle

Greco’s was at Crescenta Valley. “I want to keep the team together

and give as much of myself as I can. I want to lead by example.”

Doing well in the playoffs is also a big goal.

“We want to go far. We want a CIF title. We want to go to state,”

she said. “We are all just pushing to be the best.”

With the help and guidance of Zaidi, don’t count the Mustangs out

of achieving all of those goals.