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Wednesday, March 13, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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High School Sports

Joy Hollingsworth: Shooting, scoring is gift from family

Seattle Times staff reporter

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If it looks like shooting comes naturally to Joy Hollingsworth. Maybe it does.

After all, the Seattle Prep star has an NBA connection. Her uncle is Bruce Seals, who played for the Sonics from 1975 to 1978.

Seals, now an athletic director with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, visited Seattle a few years ago and watched his 5-foot-9 niece play.

"I thought she'd be bigger, but she sure can shoot," the 6-foot-8 former NBA player said.

That she can. And her ability to score is a major reason she has been named The Seattle Times girls high-school basketball state player of the year. Hollingsworth, two-time Metro League MVP, also was named MVP at this year's Class 3A state tournament, where she led Seattle Prep to its first girls state title. Next year, she will play for the University of San Francisco.

Hollingsworth owes her Seattle roots to her NBA uncle. Her mother, Rhonda, came to Seattle from Xavier University in her native New Orleans to be with her brother.

Once here, she met her future husband as they worked as teachers' assistants at Leschi Elementary School.

His introductory line? "Hello, I'm Raft — R-A-F-T, like you float on water."

JOY HOLLINGSWORTH / Inside stuff


School: Seattle Prep

Year: Sr. Height: 5-9 Position: Guard

College: University of San Francisco (recruited by University of San Diego, Northwestern, Santa Clara, Pepperdine, UNLV).

Stats: 18.6 points per game; 39 three-point percentage.

Favorite player: Women, Betty Lennox, Minnesota Lynx; men, Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers.

CD you're listening to: Stevie Wonder, "Songs in the Key of Life"

Joy sat in the family kitchen in South Seattle yesterday when her mother told the story.

"That's the worst pick-up line ever," said Joy, laughing. Joy was home yesterday after school officials rewarded the student body with a day off. That afternoon, the Seattle Prep team and the state-champion Rainier Beach boys team were honored at City Hall by Mayor Greg Nickels, a Seattle Prep alumnus.

The teams chatted, and Joy discovered she was related to Robinson, the MVP of the Class 3A boys tournament.

"Fourth-cousins or something," she said. Hollingsworth is best remembered for two magnificent performances in Metro League championship games. Last year, she scored 11 points in the final 57 seconds as Prep came from behind to upset Blanchet.

This year, she hit her first eight three-point attempts in the title win over Rainier Beach.

Hollingsworth finished the year as Seattle Prep's all-time scoring leader with more than 1,300 points. She averaged 18.6 points this season, making 62 of 160 three-point attempts this year (39 percent) and 47 percent of her two-point shots.

The league and state titles were a fitting end to a season that started with her in bed recovering from mononucleosis. She missed the first seven games, but quickly gathered momentum when she returned.

Seattle Prep coaches Michelle Hall and Jeff Pietz had predicted that people were going to be surprised at how much Joy had improved. They were right. After seasons of deferring to seniors, the four-year starter told her coaches this year that she wanted the ball in her hands if a final shot were to be taken.

"You always love to hear that," Pietz said.

Pietz said yesterday that some college recruiters who hadn't paid much attention to Hollingsworth have told him they are second-guessing themselves.

Her season included a 40-point scoring outburst against a good Bainbridge team. In the state-championship game against Eastside Catholic, she was constantly double-teamed and her major contribution was 12 rebounds instead of her 13 points.

As usual, she found a way to help Seattle Prep win.

Craig Smith can be reached at 206-464-8279 or csmith@seattletimes.com.

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