When most high school seniors are considering colleges, one of the most important factors is location. Some want to stay closer to home, others want to get as far away as possible. For standout UCR freshman guard Simone DeCoud, the former was the obvious choice.

For DeCoud, family has always been very important, especially the relationship with her father, who has been her biggest influence and the reason why she got involved in basketball.

“I wanted to be like him when I was little,” she said in an interview with the Highlander. “He played basketball and I watched him play.”

And their bond on the court didn’t stop there. Before UCR, he had always been her basketball coach, and that connection only helped their relationship and toughened her game.

“It would always bring us closer. But he was always super hard on me,” she stated. “He was my dad on the court.”

The togetherness that they had developed was a deciding factor in her selection of schools. “It’s close to home,” she said. “Everyone can come out and see me play.”

And so far UCR has seen her do exceptionally well individually. She is among the top three on the team in a lot of statistical categories, including points (11.1 per game), free-throw percentage (73 percent), three-point percentage (32 percent) and steals (1.5 per game). She also leads the team in assists per game with 3.4. The 5-foot-6-inch guard is even in the top three on the team in blocks per game.

Individual success has not been foreign to DeCoud. In her senior year, she led John W. North to the CIF Southern Section Championship with a 23-8 record, and a 31-6 record the year before that, all with her father at the coaching helm. Her individual success this year, however, has not led to wins for the team. The program has lost 13 games in a row, and just cannot seem to find their groove.

“There are miscommunications,” DeCoud stated. “We need to have a bond. We bond outside of the basketball court, but in basketball we need to be closer.”

The bond seemed to be present earlier in the season, when the club sported a winning record before the downward spiral. One tournament that stands out is the Great Alaska Shootout, where the team took home third-place honors. The tournament was especially exciting for DeCoud, who scored 18 off the bench in their first game against the University of Alaska, Anchorage. She also hauled in an impressive 12 rebounds, dished out nine assists, blocked three shots, and stole the ball four times in a double-overtime thriller that would eventually end in a loss. The next game in the tournament she got a well-deserved start and lit up the court with a season-high 23 points on eight-for-11 shooting, including five-of-six from distance, along with six rebounds and seven assists.

“It was a good experience,” she said of the tournament. “I had never been to Alaska before. I don’t know, I guess my shot was just on.”

In order to get back into that form, DeCoud realizes what the team needs to do. “It’s crazy because we have so much potential. But we just can’t get there. It’s mostly our defense. If we have a good defense they won’t score as many points as we do.”

Being close to home is often a drag for most college students, but for DeCoud, she’d have it no other way. Although her university is right down the street from her old stomping grounds, the freshman flourishes under the Riverside spotlight. With defense and bonding atop the women’s basketball list, there’s no reason to think this team will go anywhere but up.