The video of Marisa Davis announcing her signing with Duke was one of the last times she will step on the basketball court at Valley Vista.
This spring the 6-1 forward had every intention of staying with the Monsoon, even as more top local players left for the new Compass Prep and PHH Prep girls programs.
Then the trickle became a flood, decimating the Millennium and Gilbert Perry programs — and to a lesser extent Chandler Hamilton and Phoenix Pinnacle.
“It’s obviously not going to be the same with all those players gone,” Davis said.
So in search of greater competition Davis is joining the movement. She announced on June 4 that she is transferring to Chandler-based Compass Prep to play on its new girls national team.
Davis reached the decision to spend her senior season on the other side of town shortly after she chose to start her college career on the other side of the country at Duke.
Much of the impetus for her move for Compass Prep is to prepare for the jump to the high-major college level. The Dragons plan to play a national schedule with five tournaments on the docket and will be coached by Jamaal Rhodes and Jeremy Daniels — who Davis has known since middle school.
“I’ve known the coaches since I was in seventh grade,” Davis said. “I feel like I’ve grown out of public high school competition.. At Compass I’ll be playing top competition all the time, nationwide.”
However, to make this move, Davis had to say goodbye to another coach. Both she and her mother, Laurie Jones, said telling Valley Vista coach Rachel Matakas was the toughest part of the process.
“The hardest part is leaving Valley. At the end of the day Matakas and Valley will always be family,” Jones said. “I felt bad telling Matakas. My stomach was tense.”
Matakas admitted that when she first heard about Davis transfer, she was “pretty pissed.”
But over time she came to understand Davis’ rationale and respect her decision, if not necessarily agree with it. And as Matakas said, it is not her place to pass judgment.
“Marisa and I went out to lunch and had a very good conversation about it,” Matakas said. “We’re in the kid business. Whether I agree or disagree, I love her and she’s my kid always will be.”
At Compass she will have regular access to a personal trainer, speed work and a weight trainer. And there is more time built in for practice than at most high schools.
“At first she didn’t understand and I understand where she was coming from,” Davis said. “It was difficult trying to talk to her about it because I’ve known her so long and had such a great relationship with her. Trying to explain it kind of hurt. I’m a very loyal person and I was hesitant at first.”
Also, Davis is very close to meeting graduation requirements after taking a course load heavy on honors and Advanced Placement classes.
She said she plans to look into dual-enrollment classes at Compass Prep.
“Marisa has earned that right. She only has two classes left,” Matakas said.
Still those classes almost certainly are at Valley Vista if Trayanna Crisp and Amoret Maxwell still play for Millennium, and Tatyanna Clayburne, Madison Conner and Shayla O’Neil are still suiting up for Perry.
Add in Ally Stedman leaving Pinnacle and Samara Curry going from a Hamilton team already losing two starters. It is reasonable to ask, who can stand up to a Valley Vista team returning all but one player from its 6A title squad?
“I don’t feel very good about some aspects of it because of the distance and because we’ve always had a good relationship with coach,” Jones said. “We understood Marisa’s reasoning. She made sense. She didn’t want to beat teams 93-5. Marisa would have never left Valley if there was competition.”
Indeed, the 6A champs will be favored to repeat even without the conference player of the year.
But it will be a bit different in the Monsoon’s gym next year.
“We’re going to be OK and everyone knows that but it’s like one of us has left the pack,” Matakas said.