In another good example of the old adage, “success breeds success,” a pair of Bradley Central basketball players have signed college scholarships, bringing the total number of Bearettes playing on the next level to seven in just two seasons.
Seniors Kaylan Withrow and Brandi Whitted were joined by family and friends as both inked scholarship papers in what Bradley head coach Jason Reuter called “a testament to hard work and dedication.”
“Both of these girls maximized their potential and are being rewarded for it,” he praised. “We don’t get to Murfreesboro (the TSSAA state tournament) this year without them.”
The pair stepped into the Bearette starting lineup this past season with Withrow “as our outside shooter” and Whitted as “the defensive stopper,” according to coach Reuter.
Withrow will be taking her deadly 3-point shooting skills to Alabama to play for Auburn University at Montgomery, while Whitted will keep her “tenacious defense” close to home, choosing to play for coach Dan Lumpkin’s Cleveland State squad.
“I’m kind of nervous about the move, but I’m also excited,” declared Withrow, who averaged 8.5 points and 2.8 assists a game, plus she had 53 steals, while shooting 41 percent (44 3-pointers) from beyond the 19-foot arc this past season. “I’m ready for a new journey in life. Everyone there (AUM) made me feel so welcome. The coaches and team were so amazing and the campus is awesome.”
“We first saw her in the summer (AAU play) and we also came up to see her during the season,” explained AUM coach Dan Davis. “She has a great desire and competitive drive. She hates to lose. She’s the type of player that is going to continually work hard to improve her game.
“She can flat out shoot. She fits our style of play very well,” he added. “We like to pound the ball inside to our big girls, so we need a shooter like her to help take the pressure off them by hitting from the outside. I’m losing a starting senior shooting guard, who Kaylan reminds me off. I think she’ll be able to come in and help us, even next year as a freshman.”
Currently playing in the Southern States Athletic Conference, the Lady Warhawks went 21-9 this past season, including a victory over NAIA national runner-up Lee University.
“We were the first team left out of the national tournament. We finished 32nd in the final NAIA poll,” coach Davis commented. “We only have one year left in the NAIA before we step up to NCAA Division II and join the Peach Belt Conference. Kaylan is coming in at an exciting time for our program and she will help us make the transition.”
“We always look for certain things from a recruit and she has them,” the coach added. “She’s a first class young lady and comes from a top-level program. She’s committed to excellence and winning.”
Coach Lumpkin echoed the same sentiment about signing Whitted. “She’s played at great program against the highest level of competition. She runs the floor well and knows how to move the ball against pressure. We play at a very fast pace and she has the abilities we need to do that.”
“She can play the 2-guard or the point if we need. She can handle the pressure,” the Lady Cougar coach expressed. “We are graduating both our point guards, plus she’s a strong defender.”
Cleveland State is losing a half dozen sophomores off of a team that went 18-10 this past season.
Whitted averaged 5.2 points and 3.1 assists, plus copped 28 steals as Bradley went 29-2 this past season and qualified for its first state tournament since 2000. The Bearettes are 88-11 while winning three straight district and region championships, plus playing in three straight substate games.
“Playing here (BCHS) has been a great experience. Once you’re a Bearette, you’re always a Bearette,” declared Whitted. “Making the state tournament was a great way to finish off my senior year.
“I love the girls at Cleveland State and the coach. I’m looking forward to the experience of playing there,” she added. “I’ve just got to keep working hard and be coachable.”
“These girls (Withrow and Whitted) are shining examples of understanding their roles on the team and doing their jobs,” assessed coach Reuter. “They have fought through battles and stuck with it. Everyone knows about what a good shooter Withrow is and Whitted was our ‘jack of all trades.’”
Withrow and Whitted join former teammates Kayla Beavers, Caroline Smith, Monica Hammonds, Keila Formont and Taylor Neuharth, who all signed last year, plus Abigail Pippenger on the collegiate level. Beavers and Smith are part of Lee’s national runner-up squad, while Hammonds is playing at Truett-McConnell. Formont, Pippenger and Neuharth all play at Bryan College.