ZIONSVILLE — Laila Hull didn’t arrive in Indiana until she was in middle school.

But it didn’t take her long to realize that the state was just as basketball crazy as she was.

And as she grew more accustom to the history of basketball in the Hoosier State, she hoped one day that she could win Miss Basketball – the highest honor a prep player can get at the state level.

That dream became a reality on Monday, when it was announced that Hull was named Miss Basketball.

“It means a lot,” Hull said of winning the honor. “I get to represent Zionsville and my team – people who have done so much for me. It just means so much. When I saw the list of finalists, I thought maybe I had a shot, but I didn’t want to think about it too much. Then it happened today, and it’s just really exciting.”

Hull was definitely a little surprised by the announcement and the surprise jersey presentation.

Head coach Andy Maguire had told her to come to the locker room to talk about getting Gatorade Player of the Year (an honor she received last week), and when she got there the room was filled with coaches and administrators – along with the Indiana No. 1 jersey.

“I had no idea, and when I walked in and saw the jersey – it was a surreal experience,” Hull said.

Hull is the first player in Zionsville history to be Miss Basketball, and just the fourth girls Indiana All-Star in school history.

She received 70 first-place votes, with South Bend Washington’s Rashunda Jones getting 46 and Amiyah Reynolds 30. Bedford North Lawrence’s Karsyn Norman was fourth with 12 votes, with Forest Park’s Amber Tretter fifth with 10.

Maguire said there was no one more deserving than Hull – who averaged 22.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 2.1 assists for the Eagles (20-3).

All those numbers came against the fifth best schedule in the state.

She graduates as Zionsville’s all-time leading scorer with 1,668 points, second in rebounds with 754 and third in steals at 227.

“I think what is the most exciting is just to she how much she has developed and grown over the last four years,” Maguire said. “She has improved in every part of her basketball game, as well as a leader and a person. She’s a great representative for Zionsville and I am really excited for her.”

The award is a result of years of hard work for Hull.

The daughter of a football coach, they moved around from Oregon to Maryland and then to Zionsville when her father became a member of the Colts coaching staff in 2016 – when Hull was in middle school.

Even with some other changes on her dad’s career path, the family decided to keep their home base in Zionsville and allow Laila to flourish as part of the Eagle community.

“I am so thankful for my family and they have always had my best interest at heart,” Hull said. “They didn’t want to move me around, especially going into high school and they knew Zionsville could be something special for me and they have done so much for me – it would have been weird to leave it.”

Maguire said watching her in middle school when she came to Zionsville that it was evident Hull had a lot of talent.

But one of the cool things, Maguire said, was watching how much she improved every year, going from good player, to Indiana All-Star, to Miss Basketball.

She averaged 13.4 points and 7.8 rebounds as a freshman, and increased her scoring to 17.9 points as a sophomore, 20.3 as a junior and then 22.4 as a senior.

“This summer is where we saw the biggest growth,” Maguire said. “Her shot became more efficient, and she was more consistent with her ball handling. Her rebounding has always been good, and she has grown so much more confident in her game and that shows on the court.”

And it’s that confidence and work ethic that Maguire believes will be part of the lasting legacy Hull has at Zionsville.

“She has always been supportive of everything Zionsville and really complimentary of everything happening here,” Maguire said. “We have had a lot of really good examples of what hard work can do – and Laila is one of the best. The hard work and all the time she has put in from start to finish has really shown. Seeing the way she works and the success she has had should be a motivator for any young girl.”

Hull, who is signed with the University of North Carolina, said Monday that one of the best memories she had was topping then undefeated Franklin en route to winning the Walt Raines Classic her sophomore year.

She felt like that was a turning point for her and her Eagle teammates, who improved from six wins her freshman year to 15, 16 and then 20 the next three years.

As someone who has always valued team over individual accolades, it was no surprise that what Hull is looking forward to the most about Indiana All-Star week is being a part of the team and playing well against Kentucky.

“I’m just looking forward to beating Kentucky,” Hull said. “It’s going to be a really good game and I think we have a really good team. We are going to have a chance to grow. All the girls on the team are close and we are going to go out there and do what we do.”

And is there any added pressure playing in the Indiana No. 1 jersey?

“A little bit; I feel like I have to show out,” Hull said. “But I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself and I’m just going to go out and play my game.”

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.

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