Hernandez learning to adjust after middle school prediction becomes reality

Hernandez+drives+to+the+basket+against+Fresno+State+on+Jan.+15+at+Viejas+Arena.

Aaron Tolentino

Hernandez drives to the basket against Fresno State on Jan. 15 at Viejas Arena.

by Breven Honda, Staff Writer

Before entering high school, many school counselors have students write what they hope their  futures will entail. 

Some never come true, but for San Diego State freshman guard/forward Isabela Hernandez, it did. 

In eighth grade, Hernandez predicted she would play basketball at SDSU but lost knowledge of that letter in the years that followed. 

“I had forgotten about that letter until I got it after I graduated high school,” Hernandez said. “Looking back at it, I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy.’ Just seeing that come true, it makes me so happy.” 

Head coach Stacie Terry-Hutson said the coaches – including herself – were unfamiliar with the letter at the beginning of Hernandez’s recruitment.

Photo courtesy of Isabela Hernandez

“I didn’t know until we were well into the recruiting process,” Terry-Hutson said. “She was someone that we knew, and we still feel that we got a steal. If she was playing (Amateur Athletic Union basketball) on a more exposed team, I don’t know if she comes to San Diego State.”

Hernandez brings talent to SDSU as she won two state championships while attending Lynden Christian High School in Washington. 

Terry-Hutson said she seeks players like Hernandez in her program who have played in a winning program.  

“She’s a winner, knows how to win and I like to have kids that have experienced it,” Terry-Hutson said. “And that’s the approach that she’s taking to her individual game, getting better within the season. She is putting in extra work, she’s meeting with my assistant coaches to get the shots up.”

Hernandez said the transition period from high school to college has gone smoother than expected from based on what she’d heard from former high school teammates.  

“It has been pretty easy, actually,” Hernandez said. “I kind of knew what to expect. I had teammates that played Division I so they’ve told me a little bit about it.”

Despite getting prior knowledge from former teammates, one thing that changed for Hernandez is the schedule.

Hernandez said playing the bulk of the games in January has benefitted her.  

“(The schedule is) busy,” Hernandez said. “It’s very different than high school, but having the chunk of our season during winter break has been helpful, not having to worry about school, so that has stress off our shoulders.”

Another person that likes Hernandez in the program is junior guard Téa Adams. 

Adams said the best part about Hernandez being in the program is the camaraderie the two have built being both Washington natives. 

“I love it,” said Adams. “We actually got to be on the same flight for Christmas. It’s awesome that we know the same people and are from the same area.”

The three starting guards – Adams, sophomore Sophia Ramos and senior Taylor Kalmer – all stand below 5-foot-10.

Despite Ramos, Adams and Kalmer being shorter than Hernandez, who is 6-foot-2, they have each given advice to the freshman.

“It’s good because Sophia is a sophomore, I’m a junior and Taylor is a senior,” Adams said. “She’s a lot taller than we are and she brings a different dynamic, but we can mentor in that aspect in what we are able to bring.”

Ramos, who started 31 games last season as a freshman, is roommates with Hernandez. 

The two have had discussions including Ramos telling Hernandez how to focus on the next game.

“(Ramos) tells me to continue to battle,” Hernandez said. “Not every game is going to be good, but put that in the past and look towards the future and use that as motivation.”

The advice is influential, especially coming from a player that made the Mountain West all-freshman team a year ago. 

Not only does Ramos have faith in Hernandez, but so does Terry-Hutson. 

Terry-Hutson believes Hernandez can be a forefront player in the next three years. 

“I’m grateful that she is here,” Terry-Hutson said. “Her upside and her growth is so positive for us in our program and she is going to work her way up into this league.”

Breven Honda is a junior studying journalism. Follow him on Twitter @BrevenHonda.

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