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Mo'ne Davis makes varsity hoops team as eighth grader

Last week, it was the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York. Thursday, it was the national Christmas tree lighting in Washington.

Last week, it was the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York. Thursday, it was the national Christmas tree lighting in Washington.

The next stop for Mo'ne Davis, Little League baseball star and University of Connecticut women's basketball wannabe, might be a high school gymnasium near you.

Davis has made the varsity girls' basketball team - the high school squad - as an eighth grader at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.

"Mo'ne is way too good for middle-school basketball," said Tina O'Malley, girls' athletic director at Springside Chestnut Hill. "For her, it was a no-brainer."

Davis, a 5-foot-4 point guard, is "in a very good position to be a starter," first-year Blue Devils coach Tony Tucker said.

"Her natural instincts for the game are very good," he said. "A lot of her instincts [are comparable with] players who probably have been playing a little longer or who are a little older than she is.

"And her skill level for the point-guard position is very good at this point. She's able to penetrate and get to the basket, but, at the same time, she can shoot. Her shooting is not as consistent as it will be, but, at this point, it's very good for her age."

Springside Chestnut Hill is a member of the Inter-Academic League, which allows eighth graders to compete on the varsity level. When the Blue Devils face a PIAA team, O'Malley said, Davis and the other two eighth graders who made the varsity will sit out.

The Blue Devils' season begins Friday evening against Princeton Day School of New Jersey in a tournament at the Hill School in Pottstown.

Davis, 13, could not be reached for comment. She participated Thursday in the tree-lighting ceremony near the White House, a week after her Taney Dragons baseball team was part of the traditional Thanksgiving parade.

Earlier this week, she was named Sports Illustrated's "SportsKid of the Year," and she will be at a ceremony marking the achievement Monday at Lincoln Financial Field. Mayor Nutter and the 76ers' Michael Carter-Williams are scheduled to attend the event.

Davis also has been working on an autobiography.

O'Malley said that she and the Davis family have made sure along the way that all of Davis' outside interests don't jeopardize her amateur status.

Davis might be the most famous eighth grader in the country, and that popularity has taken her out of school - and away from team practices - at times.

"We've been able to juggle it very nicely," said Tucker, a former player at the University of Delaware who is director of admission for the middle school at Springside Chestnut Hill.

"You have to put it in the context of the fact that they're once-in-a-lifetime type of opportunities that will benefit her and do her well, so we want her to take advantage of those opportunities."

Davis led the Mid-Atlantic team to the U.S. semifinals at the Little League World Series this summer in Williamsport, throwing a two-hit shutout against Tennessee in the opener. During the Series, she said her dream was to play women's basketball at UConn.

She's a long way from that, but the road to a possible scholarship is starting a year early.

"She's a very confident young lady and not just as an athlete," Tucker said. ". . . I think that's one of the first things that captures everybody's attention - that she's very poised and very confident."