Jennah Isai’s two-month excursion to practice with the PHH Prep national girls basketball program in Phoenix was not a bad thing.
But during that summer, the junior guard with national recruiting interest realized it was not home.
Valley Vista’s gym is where Isai grew up and she will be back playing for the Monsoon this season — if there is a season.
She announced her return to Rachel Matakas’ program a couple of days after senior forward Marisa Davis formalized her return from AZ Compass Prep. The duo were leading scorers on Valley Vista’s 6A state championship team last season and most of that team is now back.
“It was really a combination of things that led me back to Valley, basically I just missed home. I grew up in Valley’s gym with my dad and Matakas,” Jennah Isai stated in a Twitter interview. “It’s close to home. Marissa returning as well didn’t hurt. I enjoyed practicing with Prep, but decided Valley is home.”
Her father, Ben, coaches the Monsoon boys basketball team.
Isai was near the end of a flood of top girls basketball players to transfer to Compass or PHH this offseason. Both started as national boys basketball traveling programs and began girls programs shortly after the 2019-20 high school season ended.
Thus far, Davis and Isai are the only players to announce a return to their high school programs.
“We are happy that Jennah decided to return and play for Valley. It is our local school. There is nothing as great as having family and friends at games, cheering for her and the Monsoon! We are proud of the work Dysart has done with athletic programs and glad Jennah will be part of this,” Ben and Shelley Isai stated in a Twitter interview.
Whatever team she played on this calendar year, Isai has continued to rack up major offers from high profile programs. Colorado, Florida, Georgia, LSU and UCLA offered her during the summer.
Isai said she is not worried that remaining at the high school level will hinder her recruiting.
“I don’t really have concerns with recruiting. I have offers from schools I would love to attend. If I get more offers that’s great and if not I am fine,” Isai stated. “All the offers I have so far have come from coaches seeing me play with my EYBL team, BlueStar or high school. I don’t think you have to attend (a prep school) to be a high level recruit.”
This time last year, Isai was in the midst of rehab from a torn ACL and meniscus, which scuttled her hopes of making the USA Basketball U16 team.
So to go along with the expected goal of repeating as a state champion, Isai simply would like to play all of her junior season with the Monsoon. She also would not mind a little friendly competition with her once-again teammate Davis.
“First, I would like to increase my stats from last year. Second, I want to work with my team to win state again. Third, I would like to get Gatorade Player of the Year,” Isai stated. “Finally, I just want to really enjoy playing and play the whole season. Last year I sat summer and half the year so I am just looking forward to playing and having fun with my team.”
The team that squeaked by Chandler Hamilton 42-38 for the title is almost entirely back, with one new exception. Guard Sophie Martinez was the only graduating senior on the squad.
But on Aug. 5 junior forward/center Saniyah Neverson announced she was transferring — to PHH Prep.