She grew up playing basketball against the boys. Then, when she got to high school as a freshman, she was almost immediately named a varsity starter and led her team in just about every statistical category. She was an all-state soccer player, just because she loves to compete. She’s always been active in the community with her family, and played a large role in Special Olympics basketball at her school. She was an honor-roll student, and was also named her state’s top basketball player as a junior. And, oh yeah, she was recruited by the University of Iowa women’s basketball program.

In the past tense, each of those accolades could be used to describe Iowa superstar Caitlyn Clark’s career path through her junior year of high school.

But, this article is not about Clark. It’s about Ridgeline junior Emilee Skinner, this year’s Deseret News Ms. Basketball, the 30th recipient in the history of the award. Skinner also grew up playing basketball against the boys, started as a freshman for her high school team, is an honor-roll student, an all-state soccer player, active in the community and being recruited by Iowa.

The similarities between Skinner’s career trajectory and Clark’s career trajectory are oddly similar to this point. Skinner even got to meet Clark on a recruiting visit to Iowa earlier this month.

“When you actually meet her in person, it’s a totally different thing, she’s just a regular human being and fun to talk to. Obviously she’s a great player and fun to watch, but it was cool to meet her and talk to her about different things,” said Skinner.

Skinner has no idea where she will end up playing college basketball, a decision she’ll likely narrow down in the late summer or early fall. She said it’s a stressful process, but something she’s learned a lot about.

Regardless of what college lands Skinner, who’s ranked in the top 10 of 2025 players, according to ESPN, she will go down as one of the best basketball players the state of Utah has ever produced, and the sky’s the limit on her future.

“She could probably do just about any sport you asked her to do and she’d be incredible at it. She’s just a phenomenal athlete, a phenomenal competitor. She has a natural ability to make things look like it comes easy,” said Ridgeline coach Ainsli Jenks. “What I love probably most about Emily is it’s not about her. She doesn’t do this for herself, it’s team. Even when she was younger, she was out there doing the things for her team to be successful.”

This past season as a junior, Skinner helped lead Ridgeline to a 25-2 record and a repeat 4A state championship as she averaged 24.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.7 blocks and 3.5 steals. Sickness sidelined her for Ridgeline’s two losses against top out-of-state competition, but had she been healthy, Ridgeline would’ve been a good bet for another undefeated state championship season.

High school girls basketball: Players of the Year led teams to remarkable 2023-24 seasons
2024 Deseret News high school girls basketball 6A All-State team
2024 Deseret News high school girls basketball 5A All-State team
2024 Deseret News high school girls basketball 4A All-State team
2024 Deseret News high school girls basketball 3A All-State team
2024 Deseret News high school girls basketball 2A All-State team
2024 Deseret News high school girls basketball 1A All-State team

“Every girl on our team is so competitive, we want to win and we’re so serious and don’t show a fun side, but I think toward the end of the year we did a lot better job of smiling and showing it on the court,” said Skinner.

For Jenks, the first time she saw Skinner playing was against the boys when she was in about sixth grade — playing against her son’s team, no less. She could clearly see the talent and knew she was on a different career path. Once the phenom got to high school and Jenks could work with her in the Ridgeline gym, Skinner’s role was immediately obvious.

“When you bring a freshman up to practice varsity, it doesn’t always guarantee that they’re going to be playing a lot of varsity minutes, just because you just don’t know where they’ll be at,” said Jenks. “The minute Emilee stepped into the gym, there was no question from myself or any of my assistants that Emily will be on the floor and be a leader on the floor from the minute she starts at Ridgeline.”

When healthy, she’s started every game since.

Skinner’s dad, Erik, played college basketball and her mom, Deana, played college volleyball. Skinner was blessed with their athleticism, which has allowed her to excel in all sports her whole life. But what Jenks has been so impressed by is Skinner’s willingness to not just coast on that talent, but work as hard as anyone to help the team win.

When Ridgeline played nationally-ranked Monterrey, Texas, in a tournament in Lehi last December, Skinner was so sick she should’ve realistically been in bed sleeping. She really wanted to do everything she could to help her team, though, and started the game. She nearly fainted coming out of the locker room before the game, with teammate Anne Wallace there to support her.

She gave it a go, and scored four points, but didn’t play in the second half.

“Credit to her for saying she wanted. She wanted to be out there for her team,” said Jenks. “She is the consummate teammate that just loves the game of basketball.”

Jenks has heard all the comparisons about Skinner to Clark, and other top players as well. She believes a big reason why Skinner is such a fun player to watch is she plays a complete game.

She said Skinner can score at the rim, score in the paint, score outside and score in transition. She can defend half court, defend full court and she can rebound. She has great vision and is unselfish enough to share the ball with her teammates all the time.

“When you go to watch Emilee, you watch a complete game, and I think that’s why she stands out to people,” said Jenks.

When Skinner arrived at Ridgeline, she was about 5-foot-9, but now she’s 6-foot — same as Clark — which has allowed her game to evolve even more.

This past season, she shot 86% from the free-throw line, 43% percent from 3-point range and 59% from the field. She made 20 more 3-pointers than a year ago.

Over the summer and then leading into her senior season, Skinner said there are several areas of her game she wants to work on, including a quicker release on her 3-point shot. She said she can also work on her ball screens and shooting off the dribble. Defensively, she believes she can improve with her pressure on the ball and her off-ball defending.

In three seasons at Ridgeline, Skinner has scored 1,622 career points. She will inevitably surpass the 2,000-point threshold sometime during her senior season, becoming just the third player in state history to do so — even though Snow Canyon’s Olivia Hamlin is also on pass to shoot past 2,000 points also.

More importantly to Skinner, though, she’ll be wanting to win a third-straight state championship next year.

For now, though, she’s proud of what she’s been able to accomplish to this point in her career.

“Obviously, winning Gatorade Player of the Year and Ms. Basketball, those are big goals of mine and it’s cool to see that I achieved that, but I know I can get better and still work, and I still have bigger goals in mind. But I’m proud of where I am at and happy for the people who helped me get there,” said Skinner.

30 years of Deseret News Ms. Basketball recipients

2024 — Emilee Skinner, Ridgeline

2023Kailey Woolston, Lone Peak

2022Teya Sidberry, Judge Memorial

2021Emma Calvert, Fremont

2020Kennady McQueen, North Summit

2019Kemery Martin, Corner Canyon

2018Lauren Gustin, Salem Hills

2017Taylor Moeaki, American Fork

2016Kennedy Redding, Bountiful

2015Lindsey Jensen, Sky View

2014Shelbee Molen, Fremont

2013Malia Nawahine, Springville

2012Brittney Martin, Syracuse

2011Brittney Martin, Syracuse

2010Lexi Eaton, Springville

2009Kimberly Parker, Wasatch

2008Jenteal Jackson, Skyline

2007Tasha Dickey, Brighton

2006Michelle Harrison, Mountain View

2005Vanessa Hutson, Brighton

2004Mallary Gillespie, Mountain View

2003Heather Hansen, Mountain View

2002Nancy Seljaas, Bountiful

2001Danielle Cheesman, Mountain View

2000Lana Sitterud, Lone Peak

1999Erin Thorn, Mountain View

1998Lisa Osguthorpe, Mountain View

1997Sarah Pratt, Mountain View

1998Megan Jensen, Davis

1997 — Emily Freeze, Timpview