The first thing Courtney Brinton noticed about Elise Graham was Graham’s speed.
“She was very fast,” said Brinton, the interim girls basketball coach at Amity. “She still is fast.”
When Graham was in the sixth grade she played for Brinton on the Ambush U15, an AAU travel team. The team was comprised mainly of eighth graders.
“When she was young, they would get the best of her,” Brinton said. “But she would beat people down the court for a fast break lay up. Initially, she started beating people off the dribble, which she still does.”
Graham has since developed into one of the state’s best players. This past season as a senior, Graham, the Register Area Most Valuable Player, averaged 17.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.0 steals per game.
Graham began playing basketball in the second grade, following in the footsteps of her sister, Janae, herself a former standout player at Amity.
“I just tried a bunch of different sports,” Elise Graham said. “That happened to be my favorite one.”
It was apparent early on that Graham’s speed would be an asset.
“I was an energetic kid, so I liked to run around,” Graham said. “For a little girl, I guess I was kind of athletic. I was usually the fastest one, and I just threw the ball against the backboard and got my own rebound until I put the ball in the hoop. I kind of grew into it as well, but I felt I was athletic at that age.”
As Graham advanced in the sport, she developed other aspects of her game.
“Ball-handling and jump shot, those didn’t come naturally,” Graham said. “I had to work really hard over summers to get my handle down to make it to the next level. The jump shot had to be improved as well.”
Graham became one of her team’s most consistent threats from the perimeter during her high school career. Brinton, who is filling in for head coach Michelle Shoop while she is on maternity leave, saw first-hand how well Graham improved in that area.
“She grew into her shooting,” Brinton said. “Especially her jump shot, which is something she’s strong at now.”
Graham’s work ethic matched her talent. Graham was a leader by example.
“She’s very calm,” Brinton said. “Leadership-wise, everyone liked her because she’s a great person. She gets along with everyone, she’s not conceited at all. Everyone saw how hard she worked in practice.”
Last September Graham committed to play at Division I Fairleigh Dickinson out of the Northeast Conference. Brinton believes Graham will have success on the next level.
“I think she will be really good,” Brinton said. “She works every day trying to make herself better. She’s just going to have to establish herself with the team, but I think she will only get better.”
Graham said she was told she has the potential to play significant minutes as a freshman.
“I definitely want to make an impact coming in right away,” Graham said. “I want to work really hard and try to get a spot on the team and definitely play. I have high expectations.”