|Crouch signs with McLennan|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
May 12, 2004 -- Tuesday was bittersweet for Sulphur Springs girls basketball coach Carin Hoffman.
The sweetness was witnessing star point guard Brandi Crouch signing a letter of intent to play college basketball at McLennan Community College. The bitter was another reminder of how much Crouch will be missed next year.
"This is very bittersweet," Hoffman said after Crouch signed the letter. "We're excited and her teammates are excited that she's getting this opportunity. But, we'll really miss her come next fall, not only as an athlete, but as a friend and a player. She's respected, and now she's getting the opportunity to move on.
"She's got a great family, a great support system. She'll be missed, definitely."
Crouch set a school record for 3-pointers last year, hitting 82 on her way to averaging 17.9 points per game. She scored 536 points as a senior, which put her third on the single-season scoring list, and 976 in her career, which is sixth-best in team history. She also led the team in assists (6.1 per game) and steals (3.3) as she was named the District 11-4A Offensive Player of the Year.
Crouch will take those talents to McLennan CC in Waco, a member of the NJCAA Region V. The Highlassies are not in the same conference as Tyler JC and Paris JC, but they usually play them in non-conference, which will give her parents, Andy and Linda Crouch, family and friends a better opportunity to see her play.
After sorting through offers from colleges and universities ranging from JUCO and Division III to Division I, she settled on the junior college experience.
"I figured if I went the junior college route that I could move up to the Division I and not have to sit out," Crouch explained. "I figured it made sense to get more experience my first year than have to sit the bench at a DI. I thought that was better, and I really liked the coaches and campus at McLennan."
Hoffman agreed, saying she believes Crouch can use the experience she'll gain at McLennan as a stepping stone to a four-year institution. In the last three seasons, at least six McLennan players have signed with Division I colleges.
"I think it's a great route. She'll not only get to play, she'll make a difference for that team. I think she's going to fit in nicely down there," Hoffman said. "There are several DI programs who want her right now, but if she went she'd probably have to sit. She'll get to play at the JUCO level without a doubt, then she can go to into a DI program and make a difference."
While at McLennan, Crouch said she will concentrate on improving her defense and getting quicker so she can better make the transition to Division I. She will likely transfer to the University of Texas at Arlington, but is leaving other options open.
The main thing is, she's getting to play in college.
"Everyone told me even when I was in Little Dribblers that I would be able to, but I don't think I really believed it until I finally got in high school to see how I compared to other high school players," she said. "It's a great opportunity."