In recruiting, a lot of recruits say when it's time to make a decision, you just know. That feeling has been stewing in Maggie Lucas's gut for some time now and Friday the 5-foot-8 guard committed to Coquese Washington and Penn State University.
The verbal commitment came just two days after an unofficial campus visit. Lucas, from Narbeth, Pa., never had a long list of schools. Maryland was her only other visit. She also considered Boston College, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Vanderbilt.
"I absolutely love the coaches," Lucas said. "I've met the girls on the team and I love them all."
More than the connection to the coaches it was the vision the staff had of her role and development as a Lady Lion.
"They laid it out how I'd develop over the four years," Lucas said.
Lucas, who is on the ESPN HoopGurlz 2010 Watchlist, found credibility in that vision because three members of the coaching staff played in the WNBA, a goal she has set for herself as well. Coaches Itoro Coleman, Maren Walseth and Washington all played in the league.
ESPN HoopGurlz picked Lucas's summer as one of the top five breakout performances of the season. She is a tremendous shooter with the quickness and athleticism to create shots and defend. She will see a great deal of time as a shooting guard in college, but believes Penn State also will develop her point guard skills.
Lucas didn't commit due to any recruiting pressure, but felt it has always been and will always be Penn State as her top school no matter how long she waits. Following her visit she felt even more confident that her gut feeling was the right choice. Lucas met with several coaches outside the women's basketball program while on her visit, including volleyball coach Russ Rose and football coaching icon Joe Paterno.
"They talked about how much of a family Penn State is," Lucas said of her talks with the other coaches, "They all spoke highly of coach Washington and that pretty much sealed the deal for me."
As a basketball player Lucas has grown by leaps and bounds during the past year. The injury during her sophomore season at Germantown Academy to star guard Caroline Doty (Connecticut) paved the way for her to grow in one of the most critical areas, maturity.
"It's always communicating with my teammates," Lucas said of what she learned about being a leader.
Lucas says the battle with her emotions on the court has been her biggest limitation in the past. She is a high-energy player who wears her heart on her sleeve and pumps her fist when times are going good. What she has learned is to believe in herself and her teammates when things aren't as good instead of ebbing and flowing emotionally throughout the game.
"If I can keep their sprits, up things will turn around," Lucas said. "Before leading anyone else you have to lead yourself and compose yourself."
That maturity carried over to the summer circuit as well where she helped the Philadelphia Belles run off a terrific summer.
"She became a much more responsible player," said Kevin Lynch, the Belles coach. "But not just on my team but one of the best players in the country this summer."
In the summer of 2007, Lucas played up with the top Belles travel team for just one tournament, Nike Nationals. This summer she was an integral part of their success and two years from now she looks forward to being an integral part of the Penn State program's success.
Discuss this on our Message Board Chris Hansen covers girls' high school basketball nationally for ESPN.com and leads the panel that ranks and evaluates players for the network. He is a graduate of the University of Washington with a Communications degree. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.