Brittney Cedeno settled in for Thanksgiving dinner Thursday night with her Dominican University teammates to watch the Stanford women’s basketball team take on Cal Baptist.
One year ago, Cedeno’s expectation would have been to be playing for Cal Baptist in that game. A 2018 graduate of South City, after three seasons of racking up perennial Peninsula Athletic League North Division MVP awards, Cedeno accepted a full ride to play women’s basketball at the upstart NCAA Division I program.
After redshirting at Cal Baptist in 2018-19, however, Cedeno opted to transfer closer to home. So, she downshifted to the Division II ranks and the women’s hoops program at Dominican in San Rafael, receiving a full scholarship.
“I was pretty comfortable with Cal Baptist and all the things it offered,” Cedeno said. “But after realizing the bigger picture to all this, and why I was doing what I was doing for my basketball career, I just started to grasp it a lot better.”
Cedeno only ever played in one scrimmage game in her redshirt year at Cal Baptist. But she has returned to the floor as a redshirt freshman at Dominican, starting at point guard for a Penguins team off to a 3-1 start.
For someone whose basketball lifeblood is so closely associated with 1-on-1s, Cedeno sure knows how to share the rock. She grew up playing highly competitive games with her brother Michael Smith, a reason why he style of play more resembles men’s basketball, and a brawling ball-yard style at that, than anything more akin to the women’s game.
And now, at Dominican, she has found a similar friendly rivalry in senior guard Marisa Mondave. Once upon a time, the two played as opponents on the AAU basketball circuit when Cedeno was with Peninsula Elite, and Mondave was with EBX. Now, the two take plenty of chances outside of practice to lock horns in competitive 1-on-1 duels.
It was a different kind of 1-on-1 that determined Cedeno’s fate in transferring to Dominican, though. Toward the end of her redshirt season, Cal Baptist held 1-on-1 player evaluations to help navigate the future of the team. It was during Cedeno’s evaluation she was asked to forgo playing point guard and shift to a wing position.
“Towards the end of the year we had individual 1-on-1 meetings with the head coach and he was basically telling me he wanted to play me as a 3,” Cedeno said. “… He didn’t see me as a point guard, and that’s where all the flags were drawn for me.”
It was a fairly easy choice from there for Cedeno to find someplace where she could do what she does best. And while she has always been a dangerous shooter, her all-around game has long been one that can run the ball, run the point, and distribute to make her teammates on the floor better.
“I’m always trying to take the best shot … but I’m still a passer first,” Cedeno said.
While Cedeno currently ranks fourth on the team in scoring, she is one of four players averaging in double-digits on a Penguins team averaging 77 points per game. Senior forward Jerusha Paine — a transfer from Notre Dame de Namur — is owning the court to the tune of a double-double average with 26.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Mondave, a shooting guard, is averaging 14. 3 ppg, while junior guard Julia Razo averages 12.3 ppg.
Cedeno is averaging a cool 10 ppg along with 4 assists per game.
“We have a lot of girls that want to score,” Cedeno said.
Happy to be closer to home in San Rafael, Cedeno got the opportunity to open the season Nov. 9 in Belmont at the PacWest/CCAA Tipoff Challenge at Notre Dame de Namur. The Penguins open another tournament Friday in the Thanksgiving Classic, taking on Cal State East Bay at Humboldt State University.