Mikayla Mabie’s basketball journey resumed this past winter following a three-year break from the sport she’s played most of her life.
The 2016 Central Valley High School grad had a success-filled first season with the UC Merced women’s hoops program.
“There was never a doubt I could get back to how I used to play,” said Mabie, 23, who paused her basketball career to take care of her grandma and focus on her own mental health. “It was just a matter of time and work. It also took a coach to believe in me.”
Mabie, a senior point guard, was named a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Honorable Mention All-American on March 25.
She was also an All-California Pacific Conference First Team and All-Defensive Team selection.
“It was definitely something I wasn’t expecting,” Mabie said while talking about her postseason accolades. “When my coach called me, I was shocked.”
Mabie became just the third All-American in UC Merced program history, joining Courtney Danna and Mia Belvin.
She finished the 2021-22 campaign ranked third on the West Coast and 18th in the country with a program-record 4.8 assists per contest. She was 26th in the NAIA with a 2.3 assist/turnover ratio and top 75 with 2.2 steals per game.
Mabie averaged 9.6 points per game while shooting 47 percent from the field. She averaged 3.6 rebounds.
Mabie was one of just two players in the nation to average at least 4.8 assists per game, 2.2 steals per game and shoot at least 47 percent from the floor.
Mabie was the first Cal Pac player since 2012-13 to average over 9.0 points, 4.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game.
Mabie dished out a program single-game record 13 assists while also tallying a season-high 20 points in a 101-31 win over Pacific Union College on Feb. 15.
She scored in double figures 10 times and tallied two double-doubles.
“It’s definitely the happiest I’ve been playing collegiate basketball,” Mabie said. “My support system is a big reason behind my success. My family and friends believe in me. I did not think I’d play basketball again. My last game was with Fresno City College in 2018. It was hard getting back to my normal self.”
Mabie led UC Merced to an 18-8 record overall, including a 10-0 mark in league play and the California Pacific Conference Tournament Championship. The Bobcats advanced to the NAIA National Championship Tournament for the fourth time in program history. UC Merced won a team-record 12 straight games entering the national tourney.
“Once we learned how to play together, success came,” Mabie said. “I was one of the oldest persons on the team. They called me grandma.”
Mabie missed part of the 2021-22 season following the death of her close friend Austin Stiles, who lost his life at the age of 24 in a car accident on Dec. 1.
“There was never a year he didn’t support me and come to my games,” she said. “His work ethic is something I always admired.”
“He was my motivation for this year,” Mabie added.
Mabie was supposed to make her debut with UC Merced in 2020-21 but the season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Basketball is who I am,” she said. “I’m super competitive. I love hard practices and games. I want to win. I don’t like losing. I feed off energy. I have such a young spirit. I don’t want to let it grow old.”
Mabie planned to play basketball at Cal State San Marcos in 2018-19 but moved to Riverside after the fall semester to help take care of her grandmother.
Lupe Mendoza, 79, passed away from cancer in February of 2019.
“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do,” Mabie said. “To see her sick everyday made me more grateful for my body and life. It made me realize I couldn’t take anything for granted. It made me grow up faster and become a stronger woman.”
Mabie spent the first two years of her collegiate basketball career in Fresno.
She had career averages of 10.1 points, 6.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals at Fresno City College.
Mabie averaged 11.1 points, 4.5 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals her sophomore year with the Rams, who reached the Final Four of the CCCAA Tournament, compiled a 27-6 overall record and claimed a share of the Central Valley Conference crown (10-2).
She shot 46.6 percent from the field and 70.5 percent from the free-throw line.
Mabie collected 18 points, seven assists, two rebounds and one steal against Siskiyous in the NorCal Regional finals on March 3. Fresno City prevailed, 95-49.
Mikayla totaled nine points and five rebounds in the Rams’ 65-49 loss to state-runner-up Merced College in the semifinals on March 10. Mabie was selected to the Final Four All-Tournament Team.
Mikayla was named to the CCCAA Northern California All-State Third Team her freshman year.
She also earned first-team all-CVC honors.
Mabie averaged a state-leading 7.6 assists per game for Fresno City College, which posted a 23-8 overall record, placed second in the conference standings and advanced to the Northern California Regional playoffs.
She had scoring and rebounding averages of 9.3 and 3.6, respectively.
Mikayla shot 44 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.
Mabie averaged 10.8 points and 8.5 assists per game in CVC play.
“Fresno City helped make me the player I am today, which is super strong and competitive,” she said.
Mabie accomplished a first in Central Valley High School girls basketball program history by being named Western Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player her senior year.
Mikayla averaged 13.9 points, 10.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game while leading the Hawks to an 18-8 overall record, a share of the WAC championship (11-1) and their second straight Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth.
Mabie garnered first-team all-conference honors as a junior. She averaged 15.3 points, 5.8 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.8 steals per contest.
Mikayla was a role player with Central Valley during her sophomore year. The Turlock High transfer averaged 4.7 points, 3.0 assists, 1.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals.
“I’ve been around basketball since the moment I was born,” Mabie said. “My mom (Salinda) was coaching with me when she was pregnant. Without her, I wouldn’t be the player I am. I got my basketball IQ from her. She’s always believed in me.”
Mabie will find out this summer if she gets granted an extra year of eligibility with UC Merced.
“It will be my best year because I’m so hungry to play basketball,” Mabie said while talking about the possibility of suiting up for the Bobcats again. “I want to play (professional) basketball overseas after college. My ultimate goal is to become a women’s college basketball coach.”