Anna Kernaghan isn't yet playing at the next level, but she's already preparing like she is.
The Grade 12 guard with the Sturgeon Heights Huskies will take her talents to the University of Winnipeg next season, signing a letter of intent to join Tanya McKay's Wesmen women's basketball team for the 2019-20 season.
Kernaghan is the first member of McKay's '19-20 recruiting class. She has applied into the Faculty of Kinesiology and will have five years of eligibility.
Perhaps more striking than her ability to fill up a scoresheet, Kernaghan has drawn rave reviews from her current and future coach for her basketball IQ and game preparation.
In Kernaghan, McKay has undoubtedly scooped one of — if not the most — talented members of this year's graduating class in Manitoba.
Averaging 29 points, more than nine rebounds, six assists and six steals a game, Kernaghan has done more than enough to produce eye-popping numbers on the court. It's her work off it that has also caught McKay's eye and will serve her well at the post-secondary level.
"She just has a passion for the game," McKay said. "This is a kid who will watch video after every game she plays to try and improve her game for the next game. So she's very aware of her talent level and strives to keep getting better.
"She's a driven kid. … She's competitive, she's very coachable. If she wants to be a player at the U Sports level, she'll not only be a great player but she'll be a kid who will elevate her program."
Kernaghan has been named a tournament all-star or MVP in nearly every tournament the Huskies have played in the past two seasons. At the Luther Invitational Tournament in Regina two weeks ago, she averaged 25.3 points per game in leading her Huskies to a third-place finish in one of the most prestigious tournaments on the prairies.
A starter for the Manitoba provincial team each of the past three years, Kernaghan has shone on the national stage. At the 2017 U17 nationals, Kernaghan was named a second-team all-star while leading Team Manitoba to a fifth-place finish. She was the tournament leader in assists per game and, a year prior to that, helped Manitoba to a bronze medal at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg.
Kernaghan also garnered an invite to Basketball Canada's age-group assessment camp in 2017, and was named a Sport Manitoba Women to Watch grant recipient the same year.
In the fall of 2018, Kernaghan made the decision that she wanted to stay home. A few months later she was committed to UWinnipeg.
"Going away is an adventure and all that but to me being around friends and family is more important that," she said. "I think it's really cool to represent where you come from."
Kernaghan said she also valued the connection she forged with McKay, who was a mentor coach with her provincial team last summer.
"I just think she's an awesome coach," Kernaghan said. "She has a great track record and I love the way she coaches. I go and watch their games all the time and I think the way her teams plays reflects how good of a coach she is."
With her high school team, she's leading the way in helping the Huskies to a No. 2 ranking in the province.
"She will send me a message almost every night after a game of what her statline was, how she thought that translated to how she played that game," Sturgeon Heights coach Evan Cox said. "She understands the game at an extremely high level for a high school player.
"… She's the ultimate security blanket on the court where she makes the right decision nine out of 10 times. She's just a joy to coach."