(Courtesy of Leslie Palmer)

In Indiana high school basketball, one player looms above the rest: Homestead’s Ayanna Patterson.

Patterson, a senior wing committed to UConn, cuts an imposing figure at 6-foot-2. But it’s her basketball ability that truly strikes fear in opposing players.

The five-star recruit, per ESPN, has recorded more than 1,000 rebounds in her high school career, and last Friday she put on a show in the Spartans’ 62-51 win over Columbia City with 35 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks. The following night, in Homestead’s 87-55 win over South Side to clinch the Class 4A-6 sectional championship, Patterson poured in 32 points to go along with 14 rebounds.

The pair of superlative performances helped Patterson earn JWS Player of the Week honors. Last week, Etiwanda’s Kennedy Smith won the inaugural award.

“She’s the best player in the state,” Homestead coach Rod Parker told local reporters in Fort Wayne, Ind. after the team’s win on Friday. “She was the difference in tonight’s game.”

That’s been the story for much of the past four years, including the 2021-22 campaign. The Spartans, ranked No. 22 in JWS’s national rankings, are on a school-record 19-game winning streak, and they’ll get the chance to avenge their lone loss of the season — a 69-48 defeat to Noblesville on Nov. 20 — this Saturday in the Marion Regional.

Patterson will take center stage in the matchup. It’s a role she’s comfortable with, after all.

On Aug. 7, 2020, she posted to Twitter a video of herself dunking in an empty gym, and as of Tuesday afternoon it had more than 58,000 views. Patterson attempted to dunk in a game this season, and though the ball bounced off the back of the iron, the effort speaks to the kind of athleticism that helped Patterson earn a scholarship offer to UConn.

Before she shines on the college stage, though, Patterson has one goal in mind: lead Homestead to a state championship. That quest reaches its most consequential point yet this weekend.

Josh Needelman is the High School Sports Editor at Just Women’s Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JoshNeedelman.