Editor’s Note: Drea Brumfield was selected as The Chronicle’s 2021 All-Area Girls Basketball MVP in June. That story can be found here: https://bit.ly/3e9Demk.
For all the creativity its players bring to the court, basketball can be locked into unimaginative stereotypes:
The littlest kid on a team plays point guard, the tallest is the post.
6-foot-2 Drea Brumfield watched her older sister Erika earn a scholarship to Portland State playing with her back to the basket but wanted to be a different type of player when her turn came to be a focal point of W.F. West High School’s girls team.
“Erika’s been a big part of me developing as a player, but I don’t do exactly what she did,” said Brumfield by phone from Chicago, where her AAU team, Tree of Hope, composed of many of Washington’s top prospects, was playing in a stop on the Elite Youth Basketball League circuit. “I focus a lot more on guard skills.”
Asked to give a scouting report on herself, Brumfield, who is committed to Pepperdine University with her senior year at W.F. West still to come, said her versatility would stand out.
“To be as tall as I am and still being able to shoot and attack off the dribble is a plus.”
The results during her junior season this spring were admirable. Brumfield, listed as a wing and not a post on the W.F. West roster, averaged 17.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 4.8 blocks, 2.7 assists and 2.5 steals playing anywhere from the low post to beyond the 3-point arc, where she knocked down 41 treys this season.
As a result, she is The Olympian’s 2021 All-Area Player of the Year.
She’s the fourth Bearcat to earn the honor in the last ten years, joining bigs Jameka Parker (2013), future Washington State and New Mexico standout Nike McClure (2014) and Kiara Steen, the point guard on W.F. West’s 2018 state championship team. She also becomes the third Bearcat to earn an All-Area Player of the Year honor this spring, joining baseball catcher Drew Reynolds and softball pitcher Kamy Dacus.
“What sets Drea apart is her mental game. She understands the game. She understands concepts and schemes,” said second-year W.F. West coach Kyle Karnofski. “It comes down to her ability to internalize what she needs to do, how she can get a shot off, how she can affect the game.”
Opposing coaches agree.
“Drea’s versatility makes her a big threat,” said Tumwater coach Robin Johnson, whose T-Birds were the only team to defeat W.F. West this spring, in the 2A Southwest District championship game. “She has the ability to score from all three levels of the court.”
Aberdeen coach Rachel Wenzel, a talented six-foot-plus player early in the century for the Bobcats and during a college career that culminated at The Evergreen State College, can see the work Brumfield puts into her game.
“She’s hard to guard because she’s a six-footer who can put up threes and handle the ball,” Wenzel said. “But what makes her stand out is how fundamentally sound she is. She makes smart passes, threads the seams, takes good shots with perfect form. That takes time in the gym.”
Basketball is a Brumfield family business. Drea’s dad, Taj, and mom, Angie, both played and have been part of the coaching staff at W.F. West. Erika starred on the Bearcats’ 2018 title team. She seemed bound for a successful collegiate career when a severe knee injury suffered two minutes into her senior year never quite healed, leading her to retire from hoops after attempts to play at PSU and Central Washington.
Drea first played as a third grader, part of a team of older girls featuring Erika and coached by their dad.
“I liked watching how much fun my sister was having,” she remembered. “It was a way to bond with everyone in my family, spending time together going to the gym.”
By the time she was in seventh grade, Brumfield and her summer teammate were taking on high school girls, catching Karnofski’s eye, though he was coaching boys at the time.
“Any time you see younger kids playing against high school players, it’s impressive,” he said.
When the 2018-19 season began, the Brumfield sisters were looking forward to playing together on a W.F. West team eager to defend its state championship. But one minute and 49 seconds into the Bearcats’ season-opening non-league game at Washougal, Erika tore the ACL in her left knee.
She would never play in a game again, though she attended both Portland State and Central Washington for a year each as part of their basketball programs.
“It was sad. It was hard. She loved it so much and still does,” Drea said. “When Erika got hurt it taught me never to take the game for granted. You don’t know how long you’re going to have. Today could be your last game, your last practice or your last workout.”
Karnofski has seen Brumfield’s resolve turn into a rare level of production on the court. He can’t point to an area of her game that needs special attention heading into her final high school season.
“She has an ability to control a game in multiple ways. That’s not something you see often. Maybe a kid is good shooting outside or at driving or passing or defending,” he said. “There were games where Drea had five or six assists. When you’re scoring 18 points per game, that adds up to a big chunk of the offense.
“She’s a wing, but we’ll ask her to play the four (power forward) sometimes and she’ll jump right in, no complaints. In the game we won over Tumwater, we played her at the point some and she did a good job.”
Another cliché in basketball is to point to a star player and say they make everyone around them better. Brumfield really does, says Karnofski, pointing especially to her defensive abilities.
“It’s good to know we have someone on our back line who has our guards’ backs. If they decide to gamble and go for a steal, we have the luxury of a player in the middle of our zone who can block shots or defend a two-on-one situation,” he said.
Brumfield is enjoying her travels with Tree of Hope, particularly since her commitment to Pepperdine “took a lot of pressure off” at a time of year when many rising seniors are playing to the recruiters in the stands, hoping they’ll gain scholarship offers.
Saying “yes” to an early offer from the Waves was sparked by two major factors.
“I really like the coaching staff and I really like the West Coast Conference (home to Gonzaga and the University of Portland, among others),’ she said. “It’s such a competitive conference. I think I can be successful there.”
2001 – Jen Stoddard, Tumwater
2002-06 – None selected
2007 – Ashley Andrews, Tumwater
2008 – Sophie Russell, River Ridge
2009 – Tosha Hollingsworth, Capital
2010 – Tosha Hollingsworth, Capital
2011 – Jasmine McDonald, River Ridge
2012 – Sasha Weber, Timberline
2013 – Jamika Parker, W.F. West
2014 – Nike McClure, W.F. West
2015 – Makenna Schultz, River Ridge
2016 – Jenna Randich, Olympia
2017 – Emma Duff, Black Hills
2018 – Kiara Steen, W.F. West
2019 – Maisy Williams, Black Hills
2020 – Maddie Plevyak, Yelm