HAMMOND | Naomi House decided in the fifth grad that she wants to play in the WNBA.
More than just her skills as a basketball player, House realized long before she started her freshman year at Bishop Noll that she'd need an education to get there.
"My uncle could have gone into the NBA, but his grades weren't there," House said. "We have a lot of athletes in the family, but their grades threw them off. Right now, I have OK grades to get me through, but I know I can try harder."
So House picked Noll for the education.
On the basketball court she's averaging 17.2 points per game in her first year, mostly coming off of the bench. Her athleticism makes her one of the top freshmen in the area, matched in part by her fellow Class of 2016 players Brenda Pennington and Tori Keilman.
"She's very aggressive offensively," Bishop Noll coach Vanita Gary said. "She's not afraid to take the shot and drive the lane, yet she's still an unselfish player."
The Warriors (9-1) are happy to take House off the bench, where she can be a spark plug in the game, and it gives her a chance to utilize her other skill: chess.
House was hoping to spend her non-basketball time in the chess club at Noll, until she found out the Hammond school didn't have one.
House has played chess almost as long as she's played basketball, competing in state tournaments and staring down opponents across a different playing field.
She said the chess helps her game almost as much as her soft-touch 3-pointer.
"I'm trying to see what my opponents are trying to do, what moves they're trying to make, how they telegraph passing the basketball," House said. "It helps a lot with basketball."
House said her grandfather, Ronald Blevins, taught her to play chess, and also taught her that the best players don't always start a game. Using House as an occasional starter, but also as a weapon off the bench, has helped both the Warriors' record and House's attitude toward the game.
"My grandpa told me that the person on the bench coming into the game has more skills than the person coming off the court," House said. "The opponent only sees me as a teammate coming in for another teammate."
As House grows, so will her game. She and her teammates have the Warriors off to their best record in decades and are tied atop the Greater South Shore Conference with Whiting.
"There's always an adjustment to the game, to the speed of the game at the varsity level, and there's a maturity of being a freshman," Gary said. "She's always been a strong scorer, but to get better, there are things that definitely need work."