Destrehan’s Cara Ursin named Gatorade Player of Year _lowres

Advocate staff photo Destrehan’s Cara Ursin scored a career-high 32 points in Thursday’s win.

Cara Ursin perhaps could have been a star softball player.

“You should see how far she can hit a ball,” Destrehan basketball coach Angi Butler said.

Or perhaps she could have chosen track.

She once ran the 100 meters in 10.5 seconds.

But Ursin, a sophomore, has simply focused on basketball.

“Basketball is all what I want to do,” she said. “I’m dedicated to it. That’s my future, and I have a passion for the game.”

Ursin, who started playing basketball when she was around 5 years old, apparently made the right choice.

The 5-foot-7 guard was named Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year on Thursday.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Ursin said. “It’s the biggest award I have received. I am just happy.”

She averaged 26.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 6.9 steals per game this past season, leading the Wildcats (26-3) to the Class 5A state semifinals. The two-time District 7-5A MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, Ursin was a 2014 Class 5A first-team all-state selection as a freshman. She also posted per-game averages of 4.6 assists and 3.4 blocks this season. She recorded 19 double-doubles and three triple-doubles and has scored 1,331 points in her prep basketball career.

Ursin said the honor helped offset some of the disappointment of not winning the Class 5A title.

“It definitely helps,” she said. “Now I feel like the only thing I need to do is win state the next two years.”

Butler said the sky is the limit for Ursin.

And it should be for a player with the nickname “Moon.”

It was given to her by an aunt years ago.

Ursin now tells people it was given to her because she can jump to the moon.

She can dunk a basketball, according to Butler.

“She’s just phenomenal,” Butler said. “You just don’t see someone like her every day. When she is in the gym, she goes 100 miles per hour, and she is the most unselfish player I have ever met.”

As impressive as Ursin is on the court, she is impressive in the classroom as well.

She carries a 4.0 grade point average.

“You’ll see her sitting in the stands or on the bus doing her homework,” Butler said.

The Gatorade award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court.

In addition to basketball, Ursin is a member of her church choir, has volunteered locally as a peer tutor and represented her high school at the Louisiana Leadership Conference for Black Leaders in 2014.

Other coaches have been wowed by her talents.

“Cara Ursin is by far one of the most talented athletes, male or female, I have ever seen at the high school level,” Central Lafourche coach Arien Faucett said. “Her athletic ability is freakish. She can jump clean out of the gym.”

It is the fourth straight year that a player from the New Orleans area has been named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year.

She follows Salmen’s Kalani Brown, Kailtyln Pratt (McDonogh 35) and Kuaneshia Baker (Helen Cox).

“It lets me know that my hard work and everything is paying off,” Ursin said.