Sela Heide finally had enough.
When she dislocated her left kneecap for the seventh — yes, seventh — time in three years, Heide opted for surgery in June, even though it meant six to nine months of recovery during the height of the recruiting process for top high-school basketball prospects.
And speaking of height: Sela Heide stands 6 feet, 8 inches tall, which is just one reason she stands out on the court and was a welcome sight for Mount Si fans Saturday night as she made her senior-season debut.
“Sela had an awesome first game,” coach Jason Marr said after she delivered 12 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes as the Wildcats (7-7, 4-3 KingCo 4A) knocked off Inglemoor (11-3, 5-2), 54-44. “I was very impressed. … Sela’s impact was huge for her teammates.”
Heide was as hyped as you could expect.
“It was really exciting,” she said Sunday morning. “It was exciting to get our group back as a team. … I’m glad I’m back out there with them.”
Heide is a difference-maker who could help the Wildcats make another postseason run. She averaged 12.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 15 games last year as they reached the Wes-King District tournament after finishing 3-13 in KingCo play the year before.
They definitely missed her earlier this season, but that seventh dislocation in May forced the decision. Among other things, that meant missing the big recruiting month of July with her Tree of Hope select team.
“That was tough,” she said.
But Heide is still on the recruiting radar, and she said coaches from Kansas, Florida, California and Texas Tech are among those who have indicated they plan to watch her play over the next few weeks.
“I want to play Division I basketball. That’s the dream,” she said.
One that seems likely to come true. During an AAU tournament last April, one national recruiting expert commented positively on her soft touch in the key, mobility and ability to alter (and block) shots, calling Heide “a stock-riser in the class of 2020.”
Heide pushed through the recovery process and was cleared for non-contact practice exactly six months after her surgery. She shares a close affinity with teammate Izzy Smith, who overcame an ACL surgery to return to the soccer pitch last fall, and the two are firmly in each other’s corner.
“When I came back to soccer after my injury, she was there in the stands cheering me on with tears in her eyes because she knew how hard I worked,” Smith said. “She has worked just as hard as I did to get back from her surgery. … It takes a lot of focus and determination and Sela has it in her. … I know there’s big things in store for her.”
Heide called the recovery process “mentally and physically taxing,” but said there was a positive side to it.
“I learned a lot about perseverance and having the will to get up and do the same thing every day to know it would get me back to playing,” she said.
Heide first dislocated the knee during a volleyball match her freshman year — “and it just kept happening.” Doctors said her knee was “genetically dispositioned” toward it and that surgery would correct the issue.
Heide’s parents, Jason and Sissel (Pierce) Heide, played basketball at Oregon State. He is 6-10 and she 6-4. Freshman brother Mikes Heide is 6-6 and growing.
Sela once thought her future would be in volleyball, which she took to quicker than basketball.
“I wasn’t very good for a long time,” she said.
But she began making strides in seventh grade, “and ever since then I’ve just fallen in love with the game,” Heide said.
And the Wildcats love having her back.