She can go to the basket; she shoots from the outside; she keeps her head up all the time so she's a really good passer. She's the complete player, skill-wise.
AMERICAN FORK — Cassidy Fraughton's talent for basketball might just be a genetic gift.
It did not come from her parents. And she does not have a famous hoops-playing sibling.
Instead, her parents believe her talent — and maybe a little bit of her affection — for basketball came from her grandfather, Dean Fraughton. Like her, he played for American Fork High School, and he helped his Cavemen squad to a state title in the 1950s. He was good enough to earn himself an athletic scholarship to Weber State University
"We always say, she's Grandpa Dean's kid," said her mom, Sheri Fraughton. "We figure it (the basketball gene) skipped a generation. All Grandpa Dean's passion went right into her."
Before Dean Fraughton's death a few years ago, he would teach Cassidy on the family's backyard hoop.
"It would not be uncommon to see him out on the basketball court with her, in his cowboy boots and cowboy hat, playing ball with her, blocking her shots," said Sheri. "He could see the talent in her."
It is difficult NOT to see her talent when Fraughton steps onto the basketball court. She's built for the game with long arms and quick reflexes. She has a beautiful shooting touch, but she is quick enough to blow past defenses and drive to the basket when necessary.
"She is equally strong right or left (handed)," said American Fork head basketball coach Corey Clayton. "She can go to the basket; she shoots from the outside; she keeps her head up all the time so she's a really good passer. She's the complete player, skill-wise."
Fraughton has helped the Cavemen to a strong start with an average of nearly 16 points per game. But as capable as she is of dominating a game, she's an unselfish player — sometimes to a fault.
"She's pretty unassuming, pretty humble," said Clayton. "Almost a little too unassuming. I wish she was a little cockier, at least in a game. When we need someone to take over a game, we need it to be her."
In fact, Clayton said he's changed his approach since the team lost a region game to Bingham last week.
"I'm channeling my inner Bobby Knight," he said with a slight laugh. "I'm not throwing chairs or anything, but I'm just challenging people personally to do what they're capable of doing."
And when they don't, he holds them accountable.
"This team has all the talent in the world," he said. "They just don't have that gamer mentality. That's my challenge this year. I don't care if we win another game this year. I told them, 'You're going to get tougher, or you're going to quit.'"
Fraughton has responded just as he'd hoped.
"She really could dominate a game," said Clayton. "She works really hard."
And Fraughton said she isn't shying away from her coach's challenges.
While her mom admits the 16-year-old is "very, very mellow" both mother and daughter acknowledge she is also very competitive.
"It takes a lot to get me mad," said Fraughton. "I think I do better when I really get after it, when I'm hustling and attacking the basket more. I just need to have that attack mentality."
She said being voted a captain has been a change for her after often playing with older girls.
"It's been different, but I do think it's a good experience for me," she said.
Both her coach and parents said she works hard to refine her natural ability on the court.
"She is very competitive," said Sheri Fraughton. "She works really, really hard. She's very mellow, but when she's out on the court, something clicks and she wants to win."
In addition to lessons from Grandpa Dean, Cassidy has also benefited from playing hoops with her older brothers and a brother-in-law, all of whom are over six feet tall.
"She also has a sister-in-law who played for BYU, and they all play with her and none of them take it easy on her," said Sheri. "It's kind of a family affair."
She spent many years pitching for a little league baseball team. She switched to softball as a freshman, but then decided to devote all of her spare time to basketball.
"She is usually shooting basketball on her own or doing her homework," said her mom. Her father tapes her games and she also spends a lot of time watching those, dissecting her own play.
"Her dad and I have asked her many, many times, 'Are you going to burn yourself out?'" Sheri said. "But she insists that she's not. Neither one of us pushed this. Cassidy needs to love it. She wouldn't have the passion to put the time in that she does."
As proud as Sheri is of Cassidy's accomplishments on the court, she's proud of her abilities off the court — including playing violin and getting good grades in school.
"She's a good kid," said Sheri. "Behind the scenes, she's a great kid who has a strong faith system that she believes in very much. She believes in working hard to achieve what she wants to do."
Clayton is hoping that what she wants to achieve this year is to continue to follow in her grandfather's footsteps and help the Cavemen contend for a state title. Fraughton said that isn't just her goal, but the desire of her teammates as well.
"I really love winning," she said. "So when we lose, it's frustrating. I know we can win; we have the talent."
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