Hard-working Stevens does it all for Wesleyan

Senior Wesleyan guard Brittany Stevens

Senior Wesleyan guard Brittany Stevens

At the end of her first season playing basketball, second-grade Brittany Stevens' coach asked who on the team hadn't scored.

"I was the only one who raised my hand," Stevens said.

Some might have moved on to another activity. Stevens just joined the team because her friend was on it anyway.

Not Stevens.

There was a hoop in her backyard and Stevens practiced.

Her second season? Stevens made the all-star team.

Let's just say Stevens hasn't had to raise her hand again.

Stevens is a dynamo for Wesleyan's perennially powerful program. Since she was a freshman, head coach Jan Azar hasn't hesitated to put the ball in her hands.

"She's a coach on the court," Azar said. "From the first day she was on the varsity team, I trusted her."

Wesleyan, a private K-12 school, has the advantage of bringing players along within its system from a much earlier age. Azar often watches the younger teams practice and play.

Azar remembers seeing Stevens as a seventh-grader when she came to the Norcross campus.

"I was so excited to see her as a middle-schooler," Azar said. "She's exactly what we do here. Defense is our No. 1 priority. The program is built on it. And we like to press. A fast guard like Brittany fits exactly with our program.

"And she does it instinctively. Brittany did not have to be taught how to play hard. She sets an example, the standard, for the younger players."

Stevens got a chance to start at point guard as a freshman after a teammate went down with a hand injury. The team was loaded with seniors and won the first of three titles in Stevens' high school career so far.

"The work you put into the program is what you're going to get out of it," said Stevens, who is headed to Samford in the fall on a basketball scholarship. "You have to hustle and listen. The bottom line is, if you work hard, Coach Azar will give you an opportunity."

The next year, there was just one senior on the team and Stevens was given the reins from the get-go.

"I was told I was the starting point guard and I needed to step up and be a leader," she said. "I was a captain last year, too, but this year I feel like it's really up to me to shape what the team is like. People are looking to me."

The Wolves are 9-0 this season and Stevens has continued to add to her career numbers in a multitude of categories. Most prominently, coming into last week's win rout of Class AAAAAA Brookwood, she had 658 points, 280 assists and 250 steals as a varsity player. She's also very capable of pulling down some rebounds, despite most often being the shortest player on the court.

"She's about 5-foot-3, but she does not play that size," Azar said. "She's one of the toughest kids out there and a perfect example for when parents say to me, 'My daughter is short.' I can tell them it doesn't matter."

What does matter is hard work and a tenacious attitude.

"I tease her that she gets rebounds because they can't see her out there," Azar said. "But she's very athletic. She's fast. She can jump. And her best attribute is how smart she is. She knows how to make everyone look good.

"She does a little bit of everything, and unlike some, she does it all really well."

Stevens' talents extend well beyond the basketball court. She played softball as a freshman and has been on Wesleyan's state-title-contending track team the last two years. She's also a peer leader. She leads two Bible studies and attends another. She goes to Young Life and on mission trips.

But what really pulls her, other than basketball, is music. Stevens is the lead singer and plays guitar for the chapel band. She's also in the honors symphonic band.

"It is stressful sometimes to practice until 6:30 on Thursday and then have to get all the songs down for chapel on Friday morning," Stevens said. "But I love doing both."

Her dad went to Florida State on a music scholarship and Stevens learned to play the guitar, along with her brother, about five years ago.

"She's much, much more than a basketball player," Azar said. "I'm amazed at all of her talents."