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Dempsey commits to Charlotte

Jun. 28, 2013 @ 12:26 AM

HUNTINGTON -- When the 2013-14 high school girls basketball season gets underway, Huntington St. Joe senior guard Griffin Dempsey will be doing her best to land a sixth-straight Class A state title for the Irish.

After graduation, basketball fans will still have a chance to see Dempsey. She verbally committed this week to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The Charlotte 49ers just ended their stay in the Atlantic 10 Conference, and are joining Conference USA, meaning Dempsey will likely be back in town to play against the Marshall University Thundering Herd.

"I'm looking forward to it," Dempsey said. "I think it will be cool to come home once a year and play Marshall. It's kind of neat."

In making her decision, Dempsey snubbed power conferences like the ACC -- both Clemson and Virginia Tech were pursuing her -- and she said Charlotte was clearly the right choice.

"It's the best situation for me academically and basketball wise," she said. "I love the campus, and I love the town. When I stepped on that campus, it immediately felt like home. It felt like I had lived there for 10 years.

"I also loved the coaches and I love the way they play basketball."

And Dempsey knows her basketball. She's part of a St. Joe squad that has won three consecutive state titles in the midst of a five-year continuous run for the program. During the 2012-13 season, the 5-foot-6 guard was a Class A all-state first team pick who averaged 18 points a game, second on the team to classmate Mychal Johnson, who has verbally committed to Notre Dame, with 21.

Dempsey also shot 47 percent from the floor and 40 percent from 3-point range. In the state title game, a 73-32 dusting of St. Marys, she set the Class A record for 3-pointers in a championship with seven.

"We know she can shoot the ball, but she's also a great ball handler and she's got quick hands and feet," said St. Joe head coach Shannon Lewis. "Defensively, we like to trap and press a lot and she's a big part of that."

Lewis said Charlotte began pursuing Demspey last year.

"They liked her real well, and I think they got off to a good start with Griffin," Lewis said. "They were always one of the top choices, and I think they're excited about getting her."

Under Lewis and his staff, the St. Joe program has turned into a juggernaut that churns out NCAA Division I recruits.

"We play all over the country and we play the best teams," Dempsey said. "Our coaches work with us on managing high pressure situations and always staying calm and performing. I think that translates over into the college game."

The Charlotte women's basketball team finished 26-6 last season, bowing out in the WNIT to Florida.

Before Dempsey becomes a 49er, there's her senior season to play, and a sixth-straight title for St. Joe to pursue, which she said she's looking forward to.

"That's the hope, to go get number six," she said.