working hard
Lani Cornfield has taken on all comers and, at the very least, held her own. At the very least she has held her own.
There have been plenty of times Cornfield, a guard on the Putnam Science Academy girls’ prep basketball team, has come out on top in her matchups against some of the other better guards in the country.
She had 21 in PSA’s season-opener against TPLS, whose point guard is going to Delaware and played a great game herself that night. Cornfield had 18 against Crestwood in the next game, and their guards are going to North Carolina State and UConn. (Cornfield then added 14 in a second game against Crestwood late in the season.) And she goes up daily against two Division-I teammates in Niya Fields and Lucie Castagne, who are going to Norfolk State and Bryant College, respectively, next year.
Still, the offers to play next year in college aren’t even trickling in for Cornfield. Schools have shown interest, but no one has offered her anything. Mustangs coach Devin Hill just doesn’t understand it.
“These are the players she’s going up against and she’s having success,” said Hill. He believes Cornfield is a low-to-mid major Division I player. “It’s like, how many matchups does she have to have – and play well – before schools really take notice of her?
“I can’t act like she hasn’t gotten any interest because she has. But still, I don’t understand what the hesitation is. Lani is a winner. She’s got toughness. Athleticism. She has scoring ability. She’s a hard worker. She’s been one of our biggest crunch-time players as well. She’s never afraid to take the big shot, never afraid to make the big play. These things translate well to the next level. I don’t see what’s not to like.”
Cornfield is plenty confident in her abilities but she said she doesn’t want to do a postgrad year and it’s January of her senior year and the uncertainty is, naturally, weighing on her.
“I’m always thinking about it,” she said. “It is frustrating, but I keep hoping. And whatever happens, happens. I just bottle it up, and it makes me want to play better. I try to make the point that I can do it.
“I know me and I know I’m capable of playing at that level. If coaches see something that I have to fix or they don’t like or think needs to be better, I’m completely open to it.”
Cornfield said she needs to work on her mentality and handling her emotions a bit better. She said she can get in her own head sometimes and then be too hard on herself when she shouldn’t be. She is constantly working on those things.
Her high basketball IQ may just be the strongest part of her game. She naturally sees the court differently, sees plays unfolding before they do, which only adds to her ability to be an extension of the coach on the floor. Hill sees that, and so do Cornfield’s teammates.
“You can see her high IQ for the game when she makes certain passes that a regular player won’t see,” Fields said, “or she’ll know exactly what play to call to get that quick layup or the three.”
Hill looks at his team and all that Cornfield adds to it, and he is just puzzled by what is not happening.
“You look at Niya, Norfolk State. You look at Lucie, Bryant College. You’re telling me that Lani can’t play? Come on,” he said.
“And we’re all on the same team, so it’s not a competition, it’s just being real. They’re all playing together, out there competing. Sometimes Niya gets the best of Lani, sometimes Lucie does, sometimes vice versa. So I don’t see what the difference is. I really don’t.”
Stephen Nalbandian
Sports Information Director
Putnam Science Academy


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