Young but Talented
Freshman sensation LaQuanda Younger continues to impress
For many student athletes the transition from the high school game to the college level is a huge adjustment. It can take time for these athletes to become comfortable and be successful. Freshman guard LaQuanda Younger is adjusting quickly to the college game for the Lady Monarchs. Last week, Younger was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Women’s Basketball Rookie of the Week for the second time this season. She recorded career highs in scoring in back to back road games, hitting an impressive eight shots and shooting .727 from long range last week. She also recorded her most minutes of the season and was the team’s leading scorer in the victory against Hofstra.
“It’s a big accomplishment for me, it’s something I’m very proud of and it’s a good reflection of all the hard work my teammates and I have put in so far this season,”
Younger had a very successful week, one of the best in the country in women’s basketball and attributes that success to her coaching staff. “It all starts with the coaches having faith in me,” she said. “They really gave me the confidence I needed by sticking me out there in some big games and just telling me to go for it.”
Lady Monarch fans have seen improvement from Younger week after week. Success on the court did not come easy, especially being one of the youngest on the team. “I made a point of doing all the little things, the dirty work, and doing the things others don’t want to,” Younger said.
Basketball was actually not her first love. Until age 12 she had dreams of being a football player but came to the realization that those chances were slim. She then tried softball, but there simply wasn’t enough movement in those games for her to show off her athletic ability. “I finally tried basketball and loved it; I had really hit a gold mound there and fell in love with the sport,”
Younger played her high school ball close by at Warrick high in the Newport News area. She excelled in that program racking up almost 2,000 career points. “I had always planned to stay close to home that was important to me and when Coach Barefoot got the job that made my decision much easier,” Younger said
She has blossomed in coach Karen Barefoot’s offense. A player and coach relationship has a profound effect on student athletes and her relationship with Barefoot dates back to her mother’s high school days. Her mother and Barefoot were very close as teammates on their school squad. “The trust factor between us was already there and it was almost like I was leaving my mom for my mom,” Younger said
With her early success it is easy to forget that Younger is only a freshman and not that far removed from the high school game. She has made a very big transition. “It was very hard at first, the game is different and so much faster,” she said. Younger ran into the same challenges that student athletes all over the country face. “The work was something I wasn’t use to, finding a balance between playing ball and my school work was also a big adjustment for me.” She credits her teammates with making the transition much easier. Starting forward Shae Kelley helped Younger a lot along the way from many aspects of the game. “Starting out my confidence level really wasn’t where I wanted it to be especially coming in as a shooter and Shae and the rest of my teammates were very encouraging,” Younger said.
She has begun to flourish in her role off of the bench, recognizing her strengths as a shooter and wanting to improve as a defender.
“I try to bring some energy off the bench night in and night out, the ladies and I on the bench want to be that spark in any way we can to help this team win.”
By: Matthew Obrien