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HEBRON ESTATES – For many, the college-recruiting trail can be a grind…at any level.
It wasn’t that for North Bullitt senior Maria George. Even before the start of her senior season playing basketball for the Lady Eagles, George had decided that her next destination with the sport would be at Spalding University.
While George may have known what route she was going to take, she didn’t let Spalding head coach Charlie Just know until late in the spring
“I pretty much knew my whole senior year,” George said recently. “It wsn’t until the beginning of this month (May) that I made a commitment.”
George also had some contact with Campbellsville University which wanted her to visit for a try-out, but by that point she had fallen in love with Spalding.
It didn’t hurt any that two former teammates at North Bullitt, Caitlin Montgomery and Reba Stice played for the Golden Eagles last season. In fact, it was while Just was watching Montgomery and Stice when he noticed George.
“I was a junior and they came to watch them,” George noted. “I guess I caught their eye. They like it there, although, Caitlin is the only one playing for them now.”
(Bullitt Central graduate Kayla Riggs also plays for Spalding).
The 18-year old daughter of Teresa George, who also played basketball at North Bullitt, believes she will play a full-time guard spot at Spalding after having to be near the basket this past season because of a lack of size on the team.
“We haven’t talked about it yet,” George said. “I know I’m the only incoming freshman after he had so many last year. I’ll play wherever is best for the team.”
At Spalding, George plans to major in Pediatric Therapy.
“I just want to work with kids,” she said. “I have a heart for them. I love kids.”
George will be remembered at North Bullitt as one of the small group of players that turned the program around. She was in the program for four years, but did miss her sophomore season because of a back injury. That issue is fully recovered now.
It was three years ago when she was part of the team that won the program’s first district title in 32 years. As a senior, she was a member of the Lady Eagle team that won its first regional tournament game when they beat Pleasure Ridge Park. Twice in the past three years the program has won 22 games, the best in school history, capping each of the past three seasons with district titles.
As a senior, the 5-8 George averaged 7.3 points and four rebounds a game.
During the spring, George has already started working with her future teammates, competing with them twice a week in open gyms.
George played all of her career at North Bullitt under head coach Amber Courtney.
“She knew that she wanted to play and she was interested in Spalding,” Courtney said. “I have the two former players there. She is quite comfortable with that program.
“She will do just fine there,” the coach added. “She will work hard. She will fill whatever role he wanted. Her personality and dedication will fit in with that group.”
Courtney, who resigned her position just a week after George had her signing ceremony to become the head coach at Bardstown, thinks that her senior will play away from the basket at Spalding.
“I see her as a two or three guard,” Courtney said. “I see her being a good three since she can handle the ball. Defensively she can play anywhere.
“In a lot of our games, between her and Erin Dolan they played against the other team’s best offensive player,” the coach added. “She has the ability to score, but defense will be her role. She takes pride in that and is aggressive.”
At Spalding, George will join a program that went 17-10 last season. That team won the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference post-season tournament before falling in the first game of the NCAA Division III Women’s National Tournament.
“Maria loves the game of basketball and is really committed to working hard to become the best player she can be,” Just said of his new player. “She plays with a lot of energy at both ends of the floor and can score both outside and around the basket. I’m really happy that she has decided to attend Spalding and become a part of our basketball team."