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1992-93 / The Times' All-Valley Girls' Basketball Team : She Carries on a Family Tradition : Like Her Parents, Siblings, Kennedy's Shaneya Harris Pursues Lofty Goals


Drawing attention to yourself when you have 11 siblings is not easy.

But Shaneya Harris manages, at least when she plays basketball.

During Kennedy High games this season, Harris' mother, Golden Cougar assistant Tonie Grooms, sat on the bench. Harris' stepfather, Henry Grooms, was at the scorer's table, announcing the contest. And some of Harris' brothers and sisters were perched in the stands. The younger ones would record her statistics.

"One would take my rebounds, one would take my baskets, one would take my steals, one would take my turnovers," Harris said. "They'd all run down after the game and say, 'You had six or seven assists last game, what did you do this game? Why did you shoot that shot when you should have took it and reversed it?' All kinds of stuff."

Tough crowd--especially considering that Shaneya, a 5-foot-10 senior, had a splendid senior season. She was named the City Section 4-A co-player of the year, was selected to the all-state third team and is The Times' Valley player of the year.

Most importantly, she will continue playing basketball in college. She has been offered a full scholarship to Arizona, among others.

"She's the type of player you get once in a lifetime," said Kennedy Coach Donis Bailey.

Indeed, a player who averaged 27.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, 5.1 steals and led her team to the City semifinal is rare, but in Harris' dynamic clan, such success is in keeping with the family tradition.

It's a big crowd--five children from Henry Grooms' previous marriage, three children from Tonie's previous marriage and four of the couple's own. Plus, Tonie is pregnant again.

"I get lost when I have to remember everyone's name and birthday," Shaneya said.

With names like Athesis, Yaphet, Rahsan, Dax and Jevay, it's not easy to keep one's bearings, but Harris rattles off the family's feats.

First there is her mother, who works for the City Housing Authority police department in youth and community service, and is involved in youth sports programs--"Anything that could deter children from negative things like gangs, drugs and violence," Tonie said.

Harris' stepfather is a structural engineer at Rockwell International.

The list goes on, from the eldest child Cathy, 29, to Rayshaune, 1. And then there is Xava, yet to be born.

Their professions and career paths are different, but some common threads weave through Harris' six older siblings: All were involved in Kennedy athletics and all went to college.

Cathy, 29, was the Golden Cougar basketball team manager before attending Howard and is now an accountant in Baltimore. Zayne, 26, was an All-City baseball player and is now a civil engineer. Nina, 24, played basketball at Kennedy before attending California and just returned from Japan, where she taught English.

Ivan, 23, and Ian, 22, attend junior college and played high school basketball and soccer, respectively.

"And then there's me," Shaneya laughed.

She is next in the procession. But where will she proceed to?

Having recently returned from a recruiting trip to Arizona, she says the Wildcats are the front-runners, but her mother wants her to also visit San Diego State and Long Beach State.

Armed with an infectious laugh, ready smile and casual self-assurance, Harris is primed to become the next of her kin to explore university life.

She is interested in children and animals, she said. Or maybe business. Perhaps modeling. She recently filmed a television commercial and loves being in front of the camera. And, of course, there's basketball.

Her voice raises an octave when she talks about college. "Ooooh, it's exciting and nerve racking. I'm anxious. Nervous. Scared. All the emotions," she said. "But as soon as I get my game going, as far as college goes, and as far as my strength goes, I'll be fine."

Whatever college brings, Harris can take comfort in the way she adroitly handled the expectations of being the star at Kennedy for three seasons. "It was so much pressure," she said. "A lot of people would tell me, 'If you don't score 35 points, you guys won't win."

And when they wouldn't win, Harris said she was inconsolable.

"It doesn't matter how many points I score, if we lost, I still feel bad, first of all that we lost, and secondly that I should have done something else or done something better," she said. "My mom says, 'Don't be so hard on yourself. You did your best.' "

But she didn't take the advice to heart until her final high school game. Kennedy lost, 58-54, to eventual champion Crenshaw in a playoff semifinal, despite Harris' 33 points and seven rebounds.

That contest is the one she remembers most fondly, because she dealt well with the defeat.

"Usually I'll cry real hard after I lose a game I feel like we should have won," she said. "And I was upset certainly, but I was looking and I said, 'I did all I could.' That was the first time this whole season I could feel that within myself, that I could say, 'I tried my best to help my team through here.' "

She went to the Sports Arena to watch the final between Crenshaw and North Hollywood.

"I was sitting there, looking all sad, like 'Dang,' " she said.

Then she got a mischievous look in her eye.

"But all I have to say is that if we would have beaten Crenshaw we would have kicked North Hollywood's butt."

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