Originally posted at: NorthJersey.com
There are no real secrets in the world of North Jersey girls basketball. Especially on the AAU circuit when players from different towns and high school teams mingle on the same roster, sharing scouting reports up and down the line.
So Rebecca Rabeiro wasn’t really surprised this summer when opposing point guards started quickly passing the ball off rather trying to work their way past her. That’s the price she’s paying for chalking up a remarkable 267 steals for Midland Park last season.
“I’m not surprised, but I’m kind of annoyed because I like to be on the ball,” said Rabeiro, an All-Record point guard. “But I know it’s a good sign because they don’t want to drive up against me.”
Rabeiro’s defensive prowess is worth the price of admission. She’s quick and aggressive, taking her fair share of fouls, but always on the attack, making opponents as uncomfortable as possible every trip down the floor.
“It’s a lot of work, and you have to be smart,” Rabeiro said.
And while Rabeiro averaged 14.7 points, 6.5 assists and 5.2 rebounds as the Panthers won their first North 1, Group 1 crown, it’s that ability to disrupt the opposition’s offense that has caught the eye of college recruiters.
“Everyone can score, but it’s always about defense,” said Rabeiro, who has over 1,000 career points. “Who can stop the ball? I think coaches are definitely looking for that.”
Lehigh, Central Connecticut, Virginia Commonwealth and Florida Atlantic have shown the most interest so far, but Rabeiro will be doing a lot more auditioning this summer with the New Jersey Sparks. She’ll be playing tournaments in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Washington, D.C., pitting her defense against some of the top players in the country.
“It’s all basketball this summer,” said Rabeiro, 17, who hopes to study law or business in college. “This is my last summer of AAU, so I’m putting everything into it. It’s going to be so much fun.”
Rabeiro knows how important it is to stand out on that summer stage, but it has to be for the right reasons.
“You have to try not to do too much,” Rabeiro said. “I just have to play my game. That’s the key. Players who try to show off for coaches usually don’t get too far.”
For all her success, Rabeiro is still a work in progress, learning to be more patient on the court and waiting for plays to develop. She showed a marked improvement in that regard as a junior, cutting down on her number of fouls while sacrificing none of her defensive edge.
And while defense is definitely her bread-and-butter, Rabeiro knows she must be an all-around contributor. Layups have been her weakness, and she said she has been spending almost every free moment doing layup drills.
“I’ve learned over time that it’s more mental than anything else,” Rabeiro said. “I’m working hard because I want make that a strength. I will get better.”
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