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Hickman senior ready to step into Kewpie basketball spotlight

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 | 10:13 p.m. CST; updated 10:30 a.m. CST, Wednesday, November 19, 2008

COLUMBIA — With dozens of her friends and family on hand, Tuesday was Chasity Prince's day.

To a chorus of clapping and cheers, the 5'10'' Hickman senior signed a letter in the middle of the Hickman High School commons area Tuesday afternoon, solidifying her intent to play basketball at Southwest Baptist University next season.

As the clapping subsided, people moved forward towards the table where Prince was seated to enjoy the refreshments that were provided. Prince rose from her seat and while one would expect her to delve into the cake emblazoned with her name, a symbol of the culmination of four years of success, she instead took the knife and began serving those in line.

The act was indicative of what kind of player Hickman coach Tonya Mirts said Prince has been over the last four years. It's that selfless attitude, when combined with Prince's diverse offensive skill set, that makes Mirts think that Prince is more than ready to step into the leadership void left by last year's leading scorer and current Texas Longhorn Yvonne Anderson.

"She really is conscientious, she's kind-hearted," Mirts said. "She's kind of soft-spoken, pretty shy. She leads, but when she leads she talks calmly to her teammates. It's very matter of fact. She's giving them information that's going to help them but in a quiet manner."

Anderson, who is the daughter of MU men's basketball coach Mike Anderson, averaged a school-record 23.6 points-per-game as a senior last year including a 43-point outing against eventual state champion Rock Bridge in district play. But while many players would feel a certain amount of pressure stepping into the spotlight of a team that went 20-7 last season, Prince has been contributing on the varsity level for each of her four seasons at Hickman, and that experience fosters a certain calm about her new role.

"There's always been pressure on me to step up," Prince said. "Yeah, Yvonne's gone and there's going to be big shoes to fill, but I don't really feel a lot of pressure because I've always felt the pressure to step up since I was a sophomore. I just feel like this year I have to lead the team."

Prince's demeanor is a defining aspect of her both as a basketball player and a person, but Division II scholarships aren't simply given out for players who are nice to their teammates.

She averaged 11 points per game last season, and made a team-high 63 3-pointers as a junior.

Prince brings a variety of skills to the floor including the ability to score in the post and exceptional footwork, but her unique shooting range for a player her height is what Mirts thinks sets her apart.

"She's one of those kids that would go out in the yard and shoot and shoot and shoot," Mirts said. "And she's done that since she was a little girl. You don't just find very many of those players anymore."

Prince may have been shooting in the yard from an early age, but it wasn't until a game during her sophomore year that she realized that she may have a future beyond high school basketball.

"There was a girl who was going to a really big Division I school, and I was just a sophomore and I shut her down," Prince said. "And I was just like, if she's going Division I, then I can probably go somewhere too."

While the realization that their daughter would be able to play basketball beyond high school was a prideful moment for the Prince family, getting their daughter an opportunity for a college education was always the main priority.

"Me and my husband both have degrees and we want our children to do the same," Chasity Prince's mother Monique Prince said. "It's very important that they can get that secondary education.

"I want to prepare her for the world, and the best way she can do that is with a college education."

While the pressures of recruitment and college commitments may be over, the pressure of being the focal point of her team's offense is just beginning for Chasity Prince. But Mirts isn't the least bit worried.

"She's embraced it," Mirts said. "She's very comfortable with where she is. She's very well prepared. I think discomfort comes from kids not prepared to do what they're expected to do. She's very well equipped to be able to handle anything that's thrown at her on the basketball court."

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