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story.lead_photo.caption Nettleton guard Elauna Eaton (23) looks to pass during a game against North Little Rock on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2019, during the Great 8 girls basketball tournament at Rogers Heritage High School in Rogers. ( Charlie Kaijo)

Self-doubt isn't part of Elauna Eaton's make-up.

She's never questioned whether her multidimensional style of play in high school will transition to the college level at the University of Arkansas next season.

As a 5-star guard who scored nearly 1,800 points and knocked down 191 three-pointers in two years at Nettleton, Eaton's arsenal appears potent enough to make an immediate impact for Mike Neighbors' team.

Yet, it's the 6-1 sharpshooter's unwavering approach to the game that gives her the belief needed to play on any stage, anywhere. It's also what enabled her to become one of the nation's top players in the 2020 recruiting class.

"I stay self-motivated," said Eaton, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's All-Arkansas Preps Female Athlete of the Year for the 2019-2020 school year. "Even if there are times where you can't work out or can't find a gym, you've got to find a way to still have love for the game. Whether it's watching a game or watching old film, find a way to stay attached to it in any kind of way or form."

Eaton led two different schools to state titles over a three-year span. During her sophomore season at Jonesboro, Eaton turned in a game-high 19 points in the Lady Hurricane's 57-44 victory over Greenwood in the Class 6A final. This past season, Eaton again tallied 19 points during Nettleton's 50-31 victory over Mountain Home in the Class 5A semifinals. The championship game wasn't played because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the Arkansas Activities Association deemed the Lady Raiders co-champions with Greenwood.

Eaton also compiled a bevy of records at Nettleton, was recruited by more than 30 schools, and averaged 23.1 points and nearly 8 rebounds as a senior.

Those numbers would not have been possible if it wasn't for the time she devoted to her skills.

When the pandemic forced the closure of school athletic facilities across the state, Eaton found a way to keep working.

"To be honest, it never really affected me a lot, in terms of getting workouts in," she said. "When [coronavirus] first came, it was kind of hard to find a gym. My teammate's father eventually found us a gym to get into.

"So other than the simple fact of staying in the house more, my life didn't really change much."

Eaton usually starts her day with strength and conditioning workouts before training on other areas of her game. She said she works on her shot, but she's made getting stronger one of her priorities.

"I'm going to be going up against tough, bigger competition next season," said Eaton, who committed to Arkansas in October and signed with the program in November. "I try to stay sharp and consistent with my shot, but getting physically stronger was a must for me."

Another must Eaton noted centered around her future Razorback teammates. She said it's important to build team chemistry early, and she's ready to get a head start in doing so.

But her mindset is set in stone.

"My approach to the game, that's never going to change," she said. "I can't wait to be around my teammates and my coaches, just being in that environment in general. I know I'll have to get tougher, work hard, be more focused and committed. I'm ready for all of that.

"But my mentality will always be the same. I'm not going to ever take anything for granted, and I'm going to always play every game like it's my last."

All-Arkansas Preps Female Player of the Year: Elauna Eaton


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