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College choice easy, but maybe not, for pair

By PETE YOUNG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 6, 2002

[Times photo: Carrie Pratt]
Auburn assistant coach Lauretta Freeman watches Redding at a Jan. 30 game. Redding's top choice is Tennessee.
For a hotshot prep basketball recruit, choosing the right college can be a trying experience. For two recruits hoping to be a package deal, the anxiety can double.

"We've talked about it, and we try not to talk about it," Dominique Redding said.

Clearwater's Redding and Boca Ciega's Kelcey Roegiers-Jensen are best friends and longtime AAU teammates who are rated among the top juniors at their respective positions in the country. They have long intended to continue their careers at the same college.

They've pared the list down to four schools:

1. Tennessee -- the New York Yankees of women's college basketball.

2a. Florida -- perennial SEC power and the top program in the state.

2b. Connecticut -- the 2000 national champion and No. 1-ranked team.

2c. Duke -- a national powerhouse and among the top academic schools.

Whew, life's tough, having such glowing options, eh? Well, the girls don't necessarily have those options because they don't know if those schools will offer them scholarships.

The aforementioned foursome are among dozens of schools recruiting them. But for now, they only can receive mail and e-mail from college coaches, which is arriving in bulk.

"It's so ridiculous. I don't even open all my mail," Roegiers-Jensen said. "They all say the same stuff anyway. They just talk about how good their team is doing."

This summer, on June 21 before the players' senior year, college coaches are allowed to begin phoning potential recruits. Typically, this is when they make scholarship offers.

The $64,000 question is, will Redding and Roegiers-Jensen both receive a call from Pat Summitt, the coach of their beloved Tennessee Volunteers, and will Summitt offer both a scholarship? Will she call just one? Will she call neither?

Many factors are involved. How many scholarships does Tennessee have available? Do the Vols need a point guard (such as Roegiers-Jensen) and a guard/forward (as Redding is projected to be in college)? Are there players Summitt likes more?

"We're not going to hold each other back," Redding said. "If one person gets offered and is happy there, then they should go."

Tennessee is the mutual favorite. They went to basketball camp there last summer and were named to the all-star team -- by Summitt.

"No. 1 is Tennessee. That's set in stone," Redding said.

However, Redding and Roegiers-Jensen have played enough basketball against high-caliber competition -- at dozens of camps and AAU tournaments -- to know they are far from locks to receive an offer from Summitt. So they are considering three other schools.

Florida is the closest, so their families could see them play, plus their AAU teammate, Bernice Mosby, will be a freshman in Gainesville this fall; Connecticut challenges Tennessee for the designation as the nation's best program; and Duke also is a powerhouse and has a sterling academic reputation.

"I still see it happening," Redding said of going to the same college. "We both (should) have the same options and we like the same things. If I don't like something, eight times out of 10 she won't either."

Grades shouldn't be an issue, even at Duke. They both have had a GPA well above 3.0 since entering high school. Roegiers-Jensen took the SAT on Jan. 26, and Redding is taking it in March.

Regardless of which coaches call them in late June and what offers they make, both girls intend to take their five allotted official visits in the fall.

Where might the fifth visit be?

"Me and Kelcey keep joking about taking an official visit to Hawaii," Redding said. "Hey, you get five of them, right?"

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