In basketball terms, expectations are naturally high in the Westbrook family.
That’s understandable – at least after older brother Lawrence put up arguably the greatest single season in Arizona High School basketball history, averaging 41 points per game – yes, that’s 41 – as a junior for Chandler High during the 2004-05 school year.
But while Westbrook is currently wrapping up his senior college season as the leading scorer at the University of Minnesota, it’s little sister, Simone, who is doing big bro proud, bringing the Westbrook name back into the Arizona hoops spotlight.
Just a sophomore, the younger Westbrook has become one of the state’s most dangerous players, averaging 17 points per game for a Desert Vista team that, at one point earlier this season, was the state’s top-ranked squad.
“I like the pressure on my back,” said Simone Westbrook, who, in leading the Thunder in scoring last year as well, helped Desert Vista come within a whisker of making the state tournament’s final four.
“I have a great support system from my coaches and my team. They know that in crunch time, I’m the one that’s going to step up.
“And I think my family helps a lot with that as well. My older brother, he knows about the pressure, and he’s the one that tells me, ‘you know, just relax and let the game come to you,’” she said.
Westbrook said she and her brother are each other’s biggest fans, adding that they talk often despite Lawrence being half-way across the country.
“I’ll probably end up calling him tonight and telling him about the game,” she said after a recent Thunder loss. “He walks me through everything. He’s walking me through to help me get to the next level.
“I’m going to listen to somebody who can score 40 points a game,” Westbrook said.
Desert Vista head coach Rachel Proudfoot said Westbrook doesn’t play like a sophomore – and rarely played like a typical freshman last year, either.
“She’s such a great competitor,” Proudfoot said. “Good players find ways to make things happen. She makes things happen.”
Despite a recent string of close losses, Westbrook said she still thinks Desert Vista is one quick turn of the wrench away from being back in contention for the Class 5A-I title. She attributes that ability to persevere through tougher times to the team’s camaraderie and willingness not to attach labels to each other.
“I think it’s just a chemistry we’ve had since last year on this team,” she said. “There’s not a specific role that everybody has, where seniors can only do this, sophomores this, juniors can do this.
“Everybody respects each other. Of course as an underclassman, I look up – we all look up – to the seniors. ‘You guys are older, you guys are captains, you guys have been here before,’” Westbrook said. “But also, our seniors don’t look down on us. They respect us.”
With Desert Vista set to embark on its second go-round of Fiesta Region games, Westbrook knows there’s going to be a point in the next few outings where she’s going to be looked at to make something happen.
“I look up to the seniors, and I think in crunch time in the game, they know I’ll step up.”