Brodhead’s Lewis nets Division I scholarship
“I can’t wait to get out there,” Lewis said with a huge smile after signing her NCAA Division I basketball scholarship national letter of intent at Brodhead High School on Tuesday.
“To play collegiate sports on a scholarship, it’s sort of like being a celebrity,” Lewis said.
Lewis’ 6-foot, 2-inch frame and her unique inside-out skill set, in tandem with honor roll-caliber grades, earned her a full-ride to UMBC.
To get to that level, Lewis made the gym her second home, shooting innumerable mid-range shots to become a perfect fit for the Retrievers’ four-out, one-in offense.
“I’d be the one in,” Lewis said of the scheme that is similar to the one she’s played in for the Cardinals. “That’s what I’m used to. Then if I get the mismatch, I go out and the other post goes in.”
During her freshman year, Lewis was told if she wanted to be a dynamic player, she’d have to hone an outside shot.
“About my sophomore year, I found my shot,” Lewis said. “Last year, a lot of my points came from the outside. It’s come a long way since my freshman year.”
She received honorable mention on the All-Rock Valley Conference team as a sophomore before making the first team last season. Lewis led the Cardinals in scoring at 14.5 points per game.
“I’m still getting there,” Lewis said. “I’m ready for the high school season, and I’ll have to build on that after the season.”
Brodhead’s practice opens today, and Lewis’ first-year coach, Brad Pickett, is excited to begin the team’s quest for a fourth straight Rock Valley title in the South Division.
While he spent the last six years directing the Monticello boys, five as the varsity coach, Pickett has been the in-school suspension supervisor at Brodhead for four years and has witnessed Lewis’ gym-rat mentality.
“Just being around and seeing her work on her game, she puts a lot of hours in the gym,” Pickett said. “She’s got a winning mentality and has been a big part of the success they’ve had here.”
Maryland Baltimore County has grown accustomed to success in the America East Conference under eighth-year coach Phil Stern. In 2007, the Retrievers won the America East title as a No. 7 seed and earned the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament berth.
The upstart program’s success aside, Lewis was drawn to Stern’s genuine approach during the recruiting process.
“I talked to (Stern) numerous times, and it was good to talk to the head coach, not the recruiting coordinator,” Lewis said. “He’s been straight with me from square one.”
Lewis picked UMBC over Toledo and Michigan Tech. She said she’s excited for life on the small campus near the Atlantic Ocean, a 10-minute drive from Baltimore.
But mostly she’s excited to pay back her most influential coaches, her father and mother, Dan and Rhonda. It’s because of their willingness to provide rides and tutelage, and the finances, that she was able start playing AAU basketball as a sixth-grader.
“It’s been a lot of summers and a lot of money for my parents to get me here,” Lewis said. “It’s like the scholarship is paying them back for all the things they’ve done for me.”