TODAY'S PAPER
Good Morning
Good Morning
SportsHigh School

Athlete of the Week is Longwood guard Taydra Simpson

Taydra Simpson did it all for Longwood, averaging

Taydra Simpson did it all for Longwood, averaging 18.1 points, 11.2 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 6.0 steals and 3.5 blocks per game. Credit: David L. Pokress/David L. Pokress

There’s unselfish, and then there’s Taydra Simpson.

The Longwood junior guard was offered a deal by her father, Stacey, before the basketball season started.

If Simpson could average 20 points a game, he would give her $1,000 toward her first car (which she hopes to buy for her senior year).

But after one of Longwood’s first games, Simpson admitted defeat.

"I told my mom, 'I don’t think I’ll win the bet,’ " she said. "I was getting my teammates involved, and if I didn’t [average 20 ppg] I was fine, as long as we were winning as a team."

Simpson and the Lions cashed in this season in their own way. The fourth-year varsity player averaged 18.1 ppg, 11.2 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 6.0 steals and 3.5 blocks per game for Longwood (6-1) — the Suffolk I champs (which beat Whitman, 56-30, on Feb. 28).

"I like to give my teammates the confidence to score," said Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. "It doesn’t have to be one person. It takes a whole team to win."

Longwood coach James Castiglione believes he has one of the top girls basketball players on the Island.

"If you went into a factory and said, ‘Let’s make the perfect basketball player — Taydra’s it,’ " he said. "She’s unselfish, coachable, the perfect teammate; has high character and to top it all off, she’s incredibly smart. Her basketball IQ is off the chart."

It started at an extremely young age for Simpson, an honors student. Her mom coached Simpson’s older sister [Aliyah] and brother [Jaylen] with Comsewogue’s "Little Warriors" elementary-school basketball program. Taydra sat and watched many practices.

"She popped out of the stroller when we got home one day, got into a defensive stance, and yelled, ‘Defense, defense,’ " said her mom, Pam White, who played basketball at Comsewogue, Brooklyn College and later South Alabama, and coached Taydra from kindergarten through eighth grade.

"[My older siblings] pushed me, too," Simpson said. "When I played against them outside, I didn’t want to lose. . . . I don’t think I’d be half the player I am without them."

Simpson’s newest challenge is learning volleyball, and specifically the right-side hitter position. (A few of her basketball teammates made a pact to try out for volleyball for the first time, and made the varsity team.) Later, it will be lacrosse (she plays defense).

But when Simpson has a few minutes, she’ll challenge her nine-year-old brother, Jaryin [Jo Jo], to one-on-one basketball games with one caveat.

"I won’t let him beat me," said Simpson, with a laugh. "I was taught that by my older siblings — don’t let the younger one beat you — it only made me better."

Not to mention, unselfish.

More high schools