Provo senior Lavender Briggs savoring conclusion of spectacular high school career
It’s not necessarily notable for a high school girls basketball player to increase her scoring average every year — or even for an athlete to more than double her per-game output during her senior year than what she did as a freshman.
When your name is Lavender Briggs and you set the bar very high early on in your career, however, those achievements take on entirely new meaning.
Consider what this talented Provo senior has achieved just with her scoring over her prep career:
Freshman (at Mountain View): 14.8 points per gameSophomore (at Mountain View): 16.2 ppgJunior (at Provo): 25.7 ppgSenior (12 games at Provo): 32.4 ppg
Briggs is currently tied at No. 4 in scoring in the entire nation, according to MaxPreps.com (although some numbers still need to be updated), putting her in elite company.
She and her Bulldog teammates just started Region 8 competition, meaning Briggs is now on the home stretch of her impressive career.
“It’s crazy but it feels good because I have been playing for so long,” Briggs said Monday. “High school basketball has gone by so quickly, but senior year is for sure the most fun. You want to play your hardest because it’s your last year, but you know you can’t have many mess-ups because you want to do your best and get to the state tournament.”
Briggs recalled beginning playing basketball in first or second grade, and while she tried other sports as well, she always came back to hoops.
“I was good at other things but they just weren’t as fun as basketball,” Briggs said. “I could see myself going somewhere, so I wanted to focus on that.”
She explained that she usually played with older teams and even got to practice with some varsity players when she was still in junior high school, so the transition to competing at the high school level wasn’t as hard.
“It wasn’t as much of a shock as you might think,” Briggs said. “I would practice in spring with them, so I could get used to it. When I got to my freshman year, it wasn’t anything new.”
What was new, however, was making a transition from her first high school — Mountain View — to Provo between her sophomore and junior seasons.
“I had a lot of friends at Mountain View, but my brother and I are close in age so when he transferred, I would be around his friends a lot,” Briggs said. “When I transferred here, I knew people.”
She also said that Provo head coach Amanda Barker, who started coaching the Bulldogs that same year, helped her get acclimated. She did, however, discover that she needed to take on a different role on the floor.
“It definitely made me work on my leadership skills, which I needed to do,” Briggs said. “Playing with some of the players I was with before, I could take breaks. But now I can’t take any games off and I always have to play hard from start to finish. I had to develop a killer instinct before I go to college.”
Barker said having a player with the combination of skill, work ethic and leadership like Briggs brings to Provo is something special.
“It’s fantastic,” Barker said. “There are thousands of coaches who have never gotten to coach a player like Lavender Briggs. There is so much about her that is just remarkable.”
There were some challenges as Briggs started playing on a new team, but Barker said a lot of that has improved with time as she is now on the same page with her teammates.
There is also the balance that the team has to strike as they try to understand when to defer to their talented star and when they work to get everyone involved.
“With this group of girls, there isn’t a struggle there,” Barker said. “They are happy. I don’t know if the young players understand that time it is giving them to develop and get better.”
As she get going at Provo, she also had the added strain of an avalanche of recruiting attention.
“The recruiting process was a lot,” Briggs said. “I was constantly getting told to call coaches or having coaches call me. When September hit my junior year (in 2017), my phone blew up right at midnight on the dot. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’”
Eventually she elected to sign with Florida, a school without a huge women’s basketball tradition but a place where she is comfortable with the coaching staff and feels like she can make a difference.
“Once I committed, it took a lot of weight off my back,” Briggs said. “I didn’t have to focus on anything else. I could just focus on basketball and preparing to go to college.”
Now the Bulldog star is zeroed in on making the most of her final two months of high school basketball.
“She signed and she is going,” Barker said. “It’s so fun to be able to play basketball because you love to play. She’s still working on the aspects of her game that she will need in college, but there is also seeing how good she can get at this level.”
Looking back, Briggs said the best advice she could give to a young player who is where she was a few years ago is to not get too worried about perception.
“I would tell them to focus on the little things of their game, focus on what they control and not what other people say,” Briggs said. “People will talk but they won’t see the work you are putting or what you are doing in the gym. I would say have fun with the game, to focus on basketball but also have fun in life because you only have one.”