By John Gillis
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations’ online multimedia National High School Sports Record Book, no female high school basketball player has had more career rebounds than Courtney Paris.
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Paris pulled down a national-record 2,359 career rebounds while playing for Modesto (California) Christian High School and Piedmont (California) High School from 2002 to 2005.
In addition, she also ranks No. 3 and No. 4 on the single-season rebounding lists, as she had 633 as a junior and 641 as a senior, both at Piedmont. Equally adept on the offensive end, Paris scored 3,346 career points, which ranks 29th all-time.
Along with 6-3 twin sister Ashley, the Paris twins formed a formidable “Twin Towers” configuration. The twins came upon their prodigious size and athletic ability honestly as their father, William “Bubba” Paris, was a 6-6, 300-pound football offensive tackle/guard at the University of Michigan, and later with the San Francisco 49ers (All-Pro who played on three Super Bowl championship teams), Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions in the National Football League, and their mother Lynne is 6-1. Size abounds throughout the extended family, as the twins have a 6-8, 260-pound brother, and Lynne’s brother (6-8, 240-pound Leonard Gray) played power forward for the Seattle Supersonics in the National Basketball Association.
The twins played their high school freshman year at Modesto High School, where Courtney averaged 25 points, 13 rebounds and three assists a game. They transferred to Piedmont High School, where under the direction of coach Bryan Gardere, Courtney averaged 25.4 points, 18.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 4.2 blocks during her sophomore season.
As a junior, Courtney averaged 27.1 points, 18.1 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game as she helped lead Piedmont High School to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division IV state championship. Her statistics were nearly identical as a senior, when she averaged 27.4 points, 18.9 rebounds, 5.0 blocks and 2.5 assists. She again helped lead the Highlanders to the CIF Division IV state title, and was named 2005 National Player of the Year by both USA Today and the Naismith Trophy Foundation.
Following high school, the twins took their games to the University of Oklahoma, where Courtney set the NCAA Division I career rebounding record, became the first four-time first-team All-American in women’s college basketball history, and was the first sophomore to be named AP Player of the Year. Following college, Courtney was drafted by the Sacramento Monarchs and Ashley by the Los Angeles Sparks.
With eight seasons having now passed since she set the national high school career rebounding record, Paris can now look back on it with a historical eye.
“Back then, I didn’t even realize that I was setting a national record,” Paris said. “I certainly never thought it would still be standing many years later. I just always have known how important rebounding is and I wanted to add that to my team. I do have long arms, but I think I just do a good job of using my size to take up the space I want and grab the rebound.”
Although Paris has played at the Division I collegiate level and is currently signed with the WNBA's Tulsa Shock, she still maintains many fond memories of her high school experience.
The Paris family includes: David, Solomon (baby nephew),
Austin, William (back row), Ashley, Courtney and Brandon.
“My greatest memory had to be winning back-to-back state championships,” Paris said. “The first year we won was great because it was the first time our school had ever won one in girls basketball. The second year was great because it was the first time that a team had ever had every player score in a state championship game.
“In addition to those playing experiences, I learned a lot of lessons. I definitely learned teamwork and leadership. But, I also learned to just to enjoy what you're doing with the people you're doing it with. We competed hard, but we had a lot of fun.”
One of the unique aspects of Paris’ junior high school, high school and college careers was she got to play those years with her twin sister Ashley. In addition to causing match-up problems for opposing teams, the two complemented each other well on the court.
“Well, anytime you can play with someone for 10 years straight, you gain a chemistry of playing with each other,” Paris said. ”That’s what Ashley and I had, which made us a good tandem. She is versatile and can play inside as well as along the perimeter, and I was a good inside threat.”
Growing up in a very athletic family taught Paris many lessons, many of which she uses today in her professional basketball career. She averages a team-high 19.3 points, 13.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals for Adana Botas in Turkey, and will play for the Shock this summer.
“We differently learned about competition differently,” Paris said. “I grew up with five siblings and we had to compete for everything.
“The Adana Botas team I play for is in a tough league ‑ probably one of the top two or three in Europe. Basketball here is growing and it’s a great opportunity for Americans to come over here, to play the game, and to make extra money.”
John Gillis is the associate director of publications and communications of the NFHS. If you have any comments or articles ideas, please forward them to Gillis at firstname.lastname@example.org