In the high school basketball world, Kaleena Smith is dubbed “Special K,” she is aiming for the Southern Section career scoring record. While it might seem premature to praise a 15-year-old halfway through her freshman season, anyone who has seen her play knows exactly why she is regarded as one of the nation’s most talented basketball players.

“Yes, it’s a set goal of mine,” she said about working toward a new scoring record. 

In addition to her 50k Instagram followers, she has been offered scholarships by close to 20 schools in the NCAA Division 1 system. According to the LA Times, these schools include UCLA, USC, Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana State and South Carolina.

“Around California, people know me, but my brand and my image have expanded more nationally over the last year,” she said. “I’m comfortable with it now. Playing on the Nike EYBL circuit in the summer gives me a chance to travel around the country to cities like Chicago, Dallas and New York. I love it.”

Matt Tumambing, Ontario Christian coach, believes Smith is destined for the WNBA. During her first 17 games, she averaged 33 points, six assists, four rebounds, three steals and one block, and she shot nearly 48% from the field. Five times, she scored more than 40 points; 11 times, it was more than 30 points; and 25 times, it was over 25 points. But in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, she was double-teamed the whole game and managed just nine points against Long Island Lutheran, a national powerhouse.

“She’s all over social media,” Tumambing said. “People come from everywhere to watch her play. It’s wild!”

Chloe Briggs, a senior at Ontario Christian, broke the record for lifetime points held by Cheryl Miller for more than 40 years in February 2023 for girls in the Southern Section.

After graduating from high school last spring, Briggs went to the University of Washington, so it was understandable to wonder if Ontario Christian’s days as a CIF-SS Open Division squad were over. After joining Ontario Christian’s girls basketball team in the fall of 2019, Briggs contributed to the team’s transformation from a respectable small school program to one of the best in the CIF Southern Section.

Despite their apparent differences — Briggs stood five inches taller than Smith, but Smith is undoubtedly faster as a freshman — Coach Tumambing sees similarities.

“They are very similar. Both are very high-IQ players. Chloe was a little bigger, but Kaleena’s a killer. She’ll go for the throat every time,” Tumambing said. “Chloe’s a pass-first, Kaleena’s a score-first. (But) in terms of IQ and knowledge of the game, I’d say they’re right there together. It’s special to be able to coach both.”