Lacey, Calhoun visit Minnesota, eye playing for women’s basketball team

Aaron Blake

Minnesota’s women’s basketball coach Pam Borton received a verbal commitment from 6-foot-3 junior Lauren Lacey of Marian Catholic High School in Illinois last week.

During a two-day visit to Minnesota, Lacey visited the coaches, players, and University President Robert Bruininks. Soon after, she decided the Gophers were best for her.

“When I went there, I didn’t think I would commit so soon,” Lacey said. “But the coaching staff was unbelievable and I can see myself playing with that team. I loved everything about it.”

Lacey is one of the top basketball prospects in the Chicago area. She was a first-team, all-state pick her junior season, averaging 18.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and shooting 65 percent from the field.

Minnesota coaches visited Lacey’s school earlier this year.

She is Borton’s first out-of-state recruit after a solid 2003-04 class of three Minnesotans. That class includes Jamie Broback of Eastview, Lakeville’s Liz Podominick and Kelly Roysland of Fosston.

Minnesota’s rise to the Sweet 16 this past season and the academic opportunities available to her both weighed heavily on Lacey’s choice.

She said she will sign during the early signing period in November, giving Borton her first recruit for the Gophers’ 2004-05 squad.

“I’ve definitely been following the Gophers since September,” Lacey said. “I’ve been watching their progress and staying in contact with the coaches.

“It’s cool to be thought of as the first out-of-state recruit.”

Lacey chose Minnesota over Arizona State, Illinois, Iowa, Purdue and Wisconsin.

Calhoun enjoys visit

Former Iowa women’s basketball player April Calhoun expressed enthusiasm over her visit with Minnesota coaches Monday.

The 5-foot-8 point guard decided to transfer from the Hawkeyes after this season, and will become eligible in 2004-05 wherever she decides to resume her career.

She contacted Borton soon after deciding to transfer, and the Gophers coach reciprocated the interest.

“I’d like to compete for a spot on the team,” Minnesota’s 2001 Ms. Basketball said. “We talked about how (All-American guard) Lindsay Whalen would be graduating right before I was eligible, so one of the guard spots would be open.”

Calhoun earlier expressed her desire to attend school closer to her home in New Hope, Minn., but would not be eligible to receive a scholarship if she transfers within the Big Ten.

Aaron Blake covers tennis and welcomes comments at [email protected]