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Fairland's Stapleton to play at Minnesota

Nov. 26, 2012 @ 12:35 AM

PROCTORVILLE, Ohio -- Fairland High School junior Terra Stapleton has resolved one big issue as the Dragons head into their girls basketball season opener Monday at home against Greenup County.

Stapleton will play college basketball at Minnesota in the Big Ten Conference.

The 6-foot-4 Stapleton's performance last season and with the Ohio Glory travel team attracted the attention of college coaches. Minnesota was among many schools who expressed interest.

Following a summer open-gym session where Lady Gophers associate head coach Curtis Loyd video taped Stapleton in action it appeared Minnesota had the inside track. Gophers head coach Pam Borton wanted Stapleton in the pivot in two years and made an offer, and Stapleton visited Minneapolis/St. Paul on Oct. 19-21.

She fell in love with the school and gave a verbal commitment to Borton before leaving. However, when Stapleton got home, she did some soul searching about the choice.

"I had a lot of advisors," Stapleton said. "I thought, 'Do what's going to make you happy.' "

Stapleton confirmed her choice to Fairland coaches Jon Buchanan and Adam Alt that she would be one of three players now in the 2014 Class for the Lady Gophers.

"Why wait if it's the right place?" Stapleton said. "I reviewed the positivies and negatives. The atmosphere's great. It's the Big 10, they have a lot of post play, I like that and you get a great education. It's a sports-oriented town. Coach Barton and coach Loyd are the best coaches I've ever met."

Loyd got the ball rolling on Stapleton during a conversation he had with Tom Jenkins, who operates Ohio Girls Basketball Report.

Borton flew down for a visit and was sold.

"She said she'd seen all she needed to see," Buchanan said.

Stapleton and the Dragons want to improve on the numbers they put up a year ago when they went 23-1 and reached the semifinals in the Ohio Division III regional tournament. She averaged 21 points, 13 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. She was All-Ohio Valley Conference, the Southeast District Player of the Year and first-team All-State.

"She's got a good attitude and wants to do what's right for her and her teammates," Buchanan said. "I felt like she was the most game-planned for player last year. She has nice hands, can move with the ball and knows how to play. The Big 10's a good fit for her."

Stapleton knows teams will be gunning for the Dragons this season.

"I've got to live up to the decision," she said of showing she's worthy of a college scholarship two years before graduation. "Being lazy is not acceptable. It's about work and doing what it takes to get better."

In addition to the OVC schedule, the Dragons face Oak Hill at home on Dec. 20. The Lady Oaks eliminated them in the regional semifinals a year ago. Fairland's also booked in five tournaments. One is the prestigious Classic in the Country on Jan. 21 in Berlin, Ohio.

"Columbus is the goal," Stapleton said of making it to the state tournament. "We have to have our A game every night. If we don't, we get beat. We're not going to sneak up on anyone. Everyone knows us. That shows respect."

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