When junior guard Donnaizha Fountain was younger, she remembers crying when it rained. A rainy day meant she wasn’t allowed to go outside and play basketball.
When the weather was nice, Fountain played basketball with her cousins at the court behind her housing complex in Roxbury, Massachusetts. As a 10-year-old girl competing against her older cousins, all boys, Fountain had to fight for her place and she began to develop a love for basketball.
“I was always in love with them and the game,” Fountain said. “I was always in love with whatever they were in love with. It grew on me. My cousins definitely had a big influence on my decision to play basketball.”
Initially, Fountain said she wasn’t very good at basketball and she wasn’t sure she wanted to pursue it until her final years of high school and when she started playing college ball.
“I was actually terrible until I got to college,” Fountain said. “I mean I wasn’t necessarily terrible, I just always had a lot of energy and a lot of heart, and I was tough out there. As a kid, I loved driving to the basket. I didn’t shoot at all because I was tough and I loved the contact. So as I got older, I learned the game, and I became better at it.”
Fountain transferred from Georgia Tech to Temple in 2014. With a stronger understanding of the game, she averaged 10.4 points per game in her first season as an Owl. In the 2015-16 season, she started in 29 of her 34 games.
This season, Fountain hopes to average a double-double and improve her consistency between games. She scored double figures in six straight games from Dec. 2 to Dec. 30, 2015, but followed a 16-point game against Memphis with only one point against Houston on Jan. 2.
Despite some inconsistency, coach Tonya Cardoza sees Fountain’s play as an asset.
“She has a strong personality,” Cardoza said. “She can be super emotional and sometimes it gets our team going when she’s really into it. She can bring a lot of life to our team.”
For Fountain, playing with emotion and passion has been part of her style since she was a kid. Fountain remembers watching NBA players Kevin Garnett and LeBron James and wanting to channel their passion into her own game.
“It’s an emotional game,” Fountain said. “You can block shots and you can get steals and get fast break lay-ups. I just love the feeling it gives you. It just gives you the feeling that nothing else matters.”
One of the downsides to playing with such a high emotional intensity is the letdown Fountain feels when the team loses or she has a bad game.
“I know it comes with the game, but it’s never a feeling you get used to, losing,” Fountain said. “The game is unpredictable. You never know what you’re going to get from the team. You can work your hardest and shoot the best percentage out there, but it doesn’t mean you’ll come out with the win.”
Fountain is willing to do whatever is necessary to get a win and worked over the summer to improve her passing and 3-point shot. Fountain led the Owls in 3-point percentage last season, making 37.2 percent of the shots she took beyond the arc.
This season, she’s made five out of 15 3-point shots in three games, which puts her on pace to beat her career-high 35 3-pointers last year.
Fountain’s focused mindset has helped her average 13.3 points per game this season. She scored 20 points in the first game of the season against St. Joseph’s. To prepare for games, Fountain likes to listen to gospel and R&B. She also calls her mom for a little pep talk before she goes on the court.
Fountain’s mother and grandmother are part of a strong support system for her throughout her basketball career, and they attend as many games as possible. Even her cousins she played with when she was younger come and watch her compete at Temple.
Years after she played on the concrete courts at the local playground, Fountain is still thankful for the role her cousins played in getting her started with basketball. She tried soccer and volleyball, but neither was as good a fit.
“Basketball was just always an outlet for me and every time I stepped on the court, everything off the court no longer mattered,” Fountain said. “It was my peace of mind. It’s always been great to me and great for me.”
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @CaptainAMAURAca.