CARTHAGE, Tx - Setting her eye on the prize of eventually playing at a four-year institution, former Carthage Lady Dragon two-sport athlete Emily McLin has chosen McLennan Community College to further her academic and basketball careers.
McLin looked at East Texas Baptist University and McLennan before making the choice on the two-year school in Waco. McLennan, which is part of NJCAA Region 5, posted an overall record of 12-18 this past season and tied for fourth in the NTJCAC with a 7-7 mark.
"It's a very nice school and I really like the coach," McLin said after a recent visit. "It was a great place and I'm looking forward to playing there."
McLin was named the District 16-3A Co-Offensive Player of the Year this spring after leading the Lady Dawgs to a 20-13 overall mark and a 7-3 record against league competition. CHS fell in bi-district play to North Lamar.
McLin joined Gilmer senior Jasmin Jones to the district's top offensive honor. McLin led Carthage in scoring this past season, averaging 12.5 points per game, converting 173-of-452 (38%) and 39-of-63 (62%) of her free throws. She also led the Lady Dawgs with 7.9 rebounds per game and was number two on the team in block shots with 19.
The Lady Bulldog was a four-year starter on the Carthage basketball team. She also threw the discus and shot put in track throughout high school. But her basketball career started early, participating in little dribblers in third grade.
McLin said she feels having played on the varsity level for the past four years will give her an advantage heading to the collegiate level.
"I think I can take everything I've experienced in the past four years to the next level," she stated. "Playing on varsity is a faster pace than JV ball and I think that will help me in college."
Lady Bulldog head coach Peggy Stapleton said McLin's developing her outside shot could give her an advantage at McLennan.
"I think her developing her outside shot has been a huge factor as far as colleges looking her further," Stapleton said at the signing. "I think defensively she's going to have to put in the extra effort at the college level because they will be taller, more physical players that what she's been used to.
"I have no doubt she'll be able to hold her own, but she'll have to make that commitment during the summer that she's going to be facing taller opponents and prepare herself mentally and physically for the next level of play."
Stapleton said her former player will face a number of multi-faceted athletes at the JUCO level.
"It's a different game (at the JUCO level)," Stapleton added. "It allows you to make the next step (to the college ranks) and you're not as intimidated as moving right into a four-year program.
"(McLin) will be exposed to all types of girls, both those who have not gotten their (entrance) scores to go to a D-I school and are having to go JUCO, but they still have those D-I skills. She'll also be facing those opponents who are coming in and facing those players who need some fine tuning.
"I think the fact that she'll be facing both of those will be a positive factor for her and she'll come in more confident at the JUCO level, especially going away from home for the first time."
Stapleton said the junior college level is the right step at this time for McLin.
"I think two years at the junior college will help her grow up and be more knowledgeable about the game and the pace that it's played at," she explained. "I think if she trims down she'll be a heck of a player, and that in a couple of years she'll have some major D-I schools looking at her."
McLin said she feels that she's developed her shot and dribbling ability in the past four years and that her outside shot is the strongest aspect of her game.
"I know I need to get stronger and quicker, but I feel that this is a great move for me," McLin stated.
McLennan lost four sophomores off of the 2011-12 team and will have eight former freshmen returning this fall.
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