Spelling bee champ Zaila Avant-garde is hoops whiz — and Guinness World Record holder

Avant-garde is one of the best 8th grade girls basketball players in the country, according to ESPN. In a profile with the outlet, she said her next big goal is to make the 2022 USA Basketball under-16 national team.

SHARE Spelling bee champ Zaila Avant-garde is hoops whiz — and Guinness World Record holder
Zaila Avant-garde, 14, from Harvey, Louisiana celebrates with the championship trophy after winning the finals of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee at Disney World Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Zaila Avant-garde, 14, from Harvey, Louisiana, celebrates with the championship trophy after winning the finals of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee at Disney World on Thursday.

AP

Zaila Avant-garde won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday and made history by becoming the first African American contestant to win in 93 editions of the competition.

The 14-year-old just so happens to be dual-threat as both a student and athlete. A basketball prodigy, Zaila holds three Guinness World Records for her ability to dribble multiple basketballs at a time. And she hopes to one day play in the WNBA.

Shortly after winning on Thursday, Avant-garde took to social media — where she has more than 20,000 followers on Instagram — and has posted videos of her playing basketball. The New Orleans Pelicans and several other sports followers were quick to give her props.

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Zaila Avant-garde’s three Guinness World Records include:
  • Most balls juggled in one minute with four basketball
  • Most dribbles in 30 seconds with four basketballs
  • Most basketballs dribbled by one person simultaneously (6)


Avant-garde is one of the best 8th grade girls basketball players in the country, according to ESPN. In a profile with the outlet, she said her next big goal is to make the 2022 USA Basketball under-16 national team. She listed James Harden, Diana Taurasi, Kevin Durant and Maya Moore as some of her favorite players.

Her impressive hoop skills had new followers in awe. Scholarship time, Geno Auriemma?

One video shows the Harvey, Louisiana, native going through some drills with an strong handle and jump shot.

Another video is of her handsy defense on display.

In addition to the spelling bee crown, Zaila holds the Guinness World Records title holder for most bounce juggles in one minute. Her three World Records include:

  • Most balls juggled in one minute with four basketball
  • Most dribbles in 30 seconds with four basketballs
  • Most basketballs dribbled by one person simultaneously (6)

That hand-eye coordination and smarts combo ... again, scholarship, Kim Mulkey?

Zaila outlasted a field of 11 finalists to win the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee title and the first-place prize of $50,000 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

Read more at usatoday.com

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