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GIRLS' PREP HOOPS: UConn offers Elizabethtown's Boley (11/12)

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By Nathaniel Bryan

Legendary women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma gave Erin Boley a lot to think about Sunday on her flight home to Kentucky from Hartford, Conn.

During the final day of Boley’s three-day unofficial visit to the University of Connecticut, the Huskies’ championship-winning coach offered the Elizabethtown High School sophomore forward a future roster spot.

“I guess I didn’t know what to say,” Boley said Monday evening. “But I was thankful and I said, ‘thank you.’ It was hard to explain.”

Why Auriemma would offer Boley a full-ride scholarship is relatively easy to explain. Other programs which have offered include three in-state programs – Louisville, Kentucky and Western Kentucky – as well as Indiana, LSU, Ohio State, Stanford, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Boley first noticed she had UConn’s attention while playing for the Kentucky Premier in an AAU event in Franklin, Tenn.

“I noticed them while they were there,” Boley said. “And we knew before then that they were going to be there.”

Boley and her parents, Scott and Mary Beth, arrived Friday night in Hartford. They went to Hartford-UConn game Saturday and spent the day with the team. They watched the team’s morning practice Sunday before heading home.

Earlier this school year, Auriemma came to Elizabethtown to watch Boley and her Lady Panther teammates practice at Charlie Rawlings Memorial Gymnasium. Because of NCAA rules, Auriemma wasn’t allowed to have contact with Boley, but Auriemma did talk to longtime Elizabethtown coach Tim Mudd about her.

“Obviously he’s someone I really admire. My goodness, you don’t get an opportunity to talk to a coach like that very often. He’s a Hall of Famer. He’s as good as it gets,” said Mudd, noting Auriemma gave him the inclination Boley would receive an offer should she decide to take her unofficial visit. “But she didn’t need to hear that from me. She needed to hear it from him.”

Boley attended Indiana’s Hoosier Hysteria and Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness as an invited guest. But with the Lady Panthers’ first scrimmage game set for Saturday against Louisville Sacred Heart and the season opener early next month, Boley is putting her recruiting on hold.

“This weekend was the last one,” she said. “I’m ready to focus on this season and my team.”

Mudd said Boley’s decision to hit the pause button doesn’t surprise him.

“Honestly, that’s just who she is. She’s a very team-oriented person,” Mudd said. “She has individual goals and team goals, but she’s going to put the team ahead of college choices right now. Once the season is over with, the college trips will pick back up.”

Women’s basketball recruiting website Prospects Nation lists Boley as the third-best forward and No. 13 player overall nationally for sophomores. Prospects Nation gives Boley a four-star rating (out of five) and a 94 rating (out of 100). All-Star Girls Report has Boley as the No. 3 sophomore in the country.

Playing for Elizabethtown, Boley plays on a team which is expected to end up with three or four future NCAA Division-I players. Junior post Reauna Cleaver holds offers from Western Kentucky, Michigan State, Purdue and Florida Atlantic among others. Junior guard Darien Huff has offers from Miami of Ohio and Southeast Missouri State among others.

Freshman guard Jada Stinson, who was ranked as one of the top eighth graders in Alabama last season, was drawing recruiting interest before transferring to Elizabethtown.

“We had 17 (college) coaches for one practice. There’s very rarely a practice that goes by that we don’t have a college coach in the gym,” Mudd said. “It’s a great problem to have, but I think Erin and Sweets (Cleaver) and Darien and the other players we have being recruited are all ready to move on and to focus on our season and to be as good as we can be.”

As one of the area’s premier girls’ basketball programs, Elizabethtown has produced several recruits in the last 15 years including Alex Jones (Eastern Kentucky), Natalie Greenwell (Morehead State), Robyn Jennings (Evansville), KaBrenda Warfield (IUPUI) and Falesha Robertson (Louisville).

But Elizabethtown has never had a crop like this. Or a recruit like Boley.

“Honestly, I don’t envy Erin. I really want her to enjoy these next two years, but she’s going to have a very, very tough decision to make,” Mudd said. “But personally, it’s been very enjoyable for me. I get to talk to all these coaches, meet them and pick their brains.”

Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at 270-505-1758 or nbryan@thenewsenterprise.com