Senior forward Sunshine McCrae said her recruiting process “really stressed [me] out” this summer.
Now she can relax, having committed to the University of North Carolina-Wilmington on Sept. 10 and announcing her decision Wednesday. McCrae helped Trinity girls basketball win the District 3 Class 3A championship last season and can now focus entirely on a repeat and a longer PIAA tournament run.
McCrae called her recruitment stressful because she felt obligated to call back every coach that reached out. It took a while for her to realize she had to narrow down the field to take away the strain and enjoy her summer. She said at one point her summer days included nothing but AAU basketball, with the Maryland Belles, and calling coaches.
So she eventually narrowed her options to five: UNC-Wilmington, Old Dominion, Cal-State Bakersfield, College of Charleston and Eastern Tennessee State. And from there, the Seahawks beat out second-choice Old Dominion for McCrae’s services.
“They did things other schools didn’t,” McCrae said of UNC-W’s coaching staff.
That included getting to know McCrae’s family better than any other staff and showing interest in her off-the-court interests as well. The coaches also took interest in her passing ability, something McCrae said other schools didn’t really do.
“I thought that made them stand out,” she said. “They wanted to get to know me.”
McCrae did not make an official visit to any school before deciding. She scheduled a trip to her top choice last weekend, but Hurricane Florence derailed those plans. McCrae said she saw some pictures from the campus, which was closed through Friday, according to news reports.
“They were hit pretty good,” said McCrae, who plans to make the trip south in October.
Even without the visit, McCrae decided the Seahawks were the right fit and didn’t want to risk losing the offer after sitting down and talking with her family.
“I knew in my heart where I wanted to go,” she said.
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McCrae, who said her recruiting began in seventh grade but picked up steam in the summer of 2016 when she switched from playing AAU with the Philadelphia Belles to Maryland, said she is unsure yet what she will major in but is considering something with child psychology, therapy or teaching.
She got to know assistant coach Tina Martin in particular, who works with the Seahawks’ front court. McCrae said she’s expected to see some time at power forward and center for head coach Karen Barefoot’s crew.
McCrae will have some competition in the paint on her own roster. The Seahawks have six forwards listed ahead of the 2018-19 season, and four of them are sophomores or freshmen.
Division I UNC-W went 12-19 last year and 4-14 in Colonial Athletic Association play under Barefoot, who took over the program in May, 2017. She was previously at Old Dominion, where she went 103-93.
“They said that I had a lot of post moves and they like that I’m a very unselfish player,” McCrae said.
WEST MANCHESTER TWP. — Trinity hasn’t claimed a district title in girls basketball since winning back-to-back crowns in 2009 and 2010.
PennLive first reported McCrae’s decision Wednesday evening. She is a two-time All-Sentinel First Team selection, is hoping to help the Shamrocks to their 15th District 3 crown and make a deeper run that last year’s PIAA first round.
Last year she averaged 13.6 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.6 assists per game and. She is now 32 points and 98 rebounds away from 1,000 in both categories for her career.
She will team up one more time with Kassidy Ingram, who committed to Jacksonville University a few weeks ago, Jaylin Moore and Ava Stevenson and under longtime coach Kristi Britten.