It's been 13 years since Silverdale Baptist Academy girls' basketball coach David Massengill has stepped on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University. Because of his daughter, Mariah, he's going to have the next four years to refamiliarize himself with the surroundings.
Mariah committed to the Richmond, Ky., school Saturday afternoon. She averaged 31.5 points and 3.4 assists per game last season for SBA's Lady Seahawks, who were District 5-A runners-up and Region 3 quarterfinalists. She also had a standout AAU season for the Georgia Hoopstars, which thrust her into the eyes of the EKU coaching staff.
"I thought that I had a successful summer," she said. "EKU saw me at the Real Deal in the Ville tournament, and they changed their schedule and made it a habit to follow me around after that. I think all of the hard work I've put into the game has paid off.
"I love the coaching staff there; I think they're great, genuine, and I can tell that it's about more than just basketball to them. They care about me and my family. I know I still have a long way to go, but I get four more years to play basketball and, Lord willing, an opportunity to play overseas."
Her father said he made sure she realized this was going to be her decision -- not his.
"When they asked her how she felt about the school, she looked at me and I told her that I wasn't making this decision for her -- that she was going to have to make it for herself," Coach Massengill said.
"As a parent and a coach, I've learned that even though people may have dreams of playing for Tennessee, that it might not be a good fit. We tried to find what would be the best fit -- I used to not know what that meant, but I've figured it out now. I wanted to help Mariah in her decision -- not choose it for her -- and I think Eastern Kentucky made her feel at home. They feel like they got a steal in her and that she can make an immediate impact."
Mariah said the decision relieves a lot of pressure heading into the new season. She expects the Lady Seahawks to win 20 games and for her to top 2,000 career points. She is about 300 away.
"I feel like since I've been at Silverdale, I've taken the program to another level," she said. "I've put the team on my back and taken them to tournaments they've never been to. I love being a leader and have a calling to be a leader.
"We've been co-champions in our district, but I want more this year. I want us to be first."