EAST ORANGE – Derrick Johnson remembers when Teana Muldrow showed she had the makings of being a big-time player.
It was in her freshman season and the East Orange Campus High School girls’ varsity basketball team was in a tight contest with Hackensack in the first round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 state tournament in 2010.
Muldrow flared out to the wing and called for the ball, looking to shoot a three-pointer. She got the ball and drained the shot. It proved to be the turning point of the game as the Jaguars rolled to the 93-77 victory.
The Jaguars went on to win the Section 1, Group 4 title.
“She just played big,” said Johnson, the former head coach of the Jaguars.
That summed up her career at EOCHS and it certainly now is the case at the University of West Virginia, where she is wrapping up a fantastic career.
Muldrow is one of the most dominant players in the nation. The 6-foot-1 senior forward leads West Virginia in both scoring (18.9 points per game) and rebounding (8.7 per game) this season.
Muldrow was named one of the five finalists for the Cheryl Miller Award, given to the nation’s top small forward. The winner of the 2018 Cheryl Miller Small Forward of the Year Award will be determined by a combination of fan votes and input from the Basketball Hall of Fame’s selection committee. Fans are encouraged to visit www.HoophallAwards.com to cast their votes until March 23.
Muldrow enjoyed an impressive junior season in 2016-17. She averaged 14.5 points (ranked No. 7 in the Big 12) and 8.5 rebounds a game (ranked No. 3 in the Big 12) to earn All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, registering nine double-doubles. She also was named to the Big 12 Championship All-Tournament Team. Also as a junior, her 299 rebounds were seventh-most in a single season by a Mountaineer and she became the 33rd Mountaineer in program history to reach 1,000 career points with her career-high 25 points in the win over TCU.
Muldrow is tied for first place in games played in program history with 138.
Before continuing her career at West Virginia, Muldrow was unstoppable at EOCHS. In her senior season in 2013, she led the Jaguars to their first Essex County Tournament title game where they lost to Shabazz, which won its fifth straight ECT. EOCHS regrouped and won the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 state title that season. Muldrow averaged 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks per game as a senior and finished with more than 1,600 points and 1,000 rebounds for her career.
Johnson knew about Muldrow ever since she was a seventh-grader.
“Even when she was in the seventh grade, she was like a freak of nature, the way she picked up things, just her overall work ethic,” Johnson said. “She was a talent from the beginning; that star quality that you can’t teach that or coach that.”
But even though she was a special talent, Johnson knew she needed development, and he wasn’t afraid of pushing her to be the best.
“When I first (coached) her, I was extremely, extremely hard on Teana, from Day one when she was a freshman,” said Johnson, who was the Jaguars head coach for 14 seasons until the end of the 2016-2017 season. “I demanded a lot from her. Her mother thanked me after she graduated. At first it seemed like I was being unfair to her and just trying to tear her down, but what I was doing was, I wasn’t going to accept mediocrity from her. I want her to exceed. I demand a lot. I’m the first person to let them know when they are doing well and I’m the first person to let them know when they are not doing well. I saw that she was a special talent.”
Muldrow appears to be a prospect for the WNBA Draft this spring. If she gets selected, Johnson says he will be overjoyed. He said he would love to join his coaching counterparts from Shabazz and University who have former players in the WNBA.
Muldrow hopes to lead the Mountaineers on a deep run in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. West Virginia will host Bucknell in the first round on Thursday, March 15.