Ashten Prechtel was an accessory to a big moment for women’s basketball during Tuesday’s dunk contest at the McDonald’s All-American Game in Atlanta, but she made Colorado hoops history on her own in her final season at Discovery Canyon.
During the finals of the contest broadcasted by ESPN, Prechtel plopped her 6-foot-5 frame in a chair positioned the middle of the paint before Regis Jesuit’s Fran Belibi cleared her future Stanford teammate and became just the second woman to win the contest, joining Candace Parker, who starred collegiately at Tennessee and in the WNBA with the Los Angeles Sparks.
Belibi’s dunk was featured on "SportsCenter" and shared widely online with Prechtel in the middle of the frame.
“That was amazing, probably one of the best parts,” Prechtel said of a week in Atlanta that included an introduction to Atlanta Hawk Trae Young, in the running for NBA Rookie of the Year, and a Migos performance during halftime of the boys’ game.
Prechtel played about 10 minutes the next night, scoring four points and grabbing two rebounds in the game featuring the nation’s best prep prospects, while nursing a broken hand suffered in the final game of her Thunder career.
It didn’t take long for Prechtel to realize the injury was pretty serious in a 49-35 loss to The Classical Academy in the second round of the state tournament, but she also refused to watch her prep career end from the bench, as she returned to the game after the injury.
“It’s just one of those things, I don’t want to lose. No one does, but I just wanted … I didn’t want to go out like that,” Prechtel said.
“It’s just competitiveness I guess.”
That desire helped Prechtel leave her mark on Colorado basketball.
In the Thunder’s first-round win over Northfield, she set state’s career rebounding record, part of a 27-point, 25-rebound performance.
“I guess I haven’t thought about it that much. It’s really cool,” Prechtel said.
“I hope it stays there for a bit.”
The record, in addition to averages of 23.3 points, 17.6 rebounds, 5.3 blocks, 1.7 steals and 1.3 assists, made Prechtel The Gazette Preps Class 5A/4A Girls’ Basketball Peak Performer of the Year. The new career mark is 1,336 after Prechtel added 14 more boards against the Titans. Her 440 rebounds as a senior is the second-highest total in a season, and she also sits second in the single-game charts after grabbing 32 against Palmer Ridge.
“Ashten will forever leave her mark on this program,” Discovery Canyon coach Heath Kirkham said after the Northfield game.
“Not only as being the best player in school history, but for girls to come.”
That special season earned Prechtel trips to Atlanta for the McDonald’s All-American Game and Las Vegas for next month’s Jordan Brand Classic where she’ll again team with future Cardinal teammates Belibi and Haley Jones. The hand should be healed without needing surgery when Prechtel starts the next chapter in Palo Alto.
“It’s going to be an awesome experience,” Prechtel said.
“I’m just excited to get out there and start.”
Awesome experiences have seemingly become the norm for Prechtel.