ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Kelly McLaughlin started with the Ivy League when she was deciding where she wanted to attend school and play basketball next year.
“I really wanted a good academic school,” McLaughlin says. “But also wanted to be able to play DI basketball.”
The 6’3” senior officially signed with Miami University in Ohio, last month, but first has some plans in her final season at St. Joseph’s Academy.
“Obviously the goal is Columbia at the end of the season,” McLaughlin says. “But if we take each game at a time i think that’s how we are going to succeed.”
McLaughlin’s junior year ended when the Angels lost to Parkway North High School in sectionals, just two games short of reaching the state semifinal at Mizzou Arena. Last year, McLaughlin averaged more than 13.2 points and 12.5 rebounds, in route to All-Metro honors. Although St. Joe’s lost its second leading scorer from last year, senior Liz Weppner feels there is a good chance to make a deeper run this year.
“We’ve got some new starters in there,” Weppner says. “And I think Kelly is going to be a big part of that especially as a leadership position, on the post, and as the high scorer that she is.”
Even with McLaughlin’s success last year, as the area’s fifth best rebounder, she believes there is more she can do to not only better herself, but also her teammates.
“I’m trying to work on extending my game to outside shots,” McLaughlin says. “I’m normally just a back-to-the-basket person, but if i can get out and shoot threes that will open up the lane for Alex Kerr and Annie Lally, which will help us too.”
St. Joe’s head coach Julie Matheny says she noticed McLaughlin’s maturity since her freshman season, but this year Matheny will help her All-Metro forward become a more balanced player.
“She’s a sponge, that’s one thing that she is willing to learn and willing to work hard,” Matheny says. “She also knows that at this point being a captain and being a senior that we need her, we lean on her for points.”
Four games into the season, McLaughlin is in the top-13 in both points and rebounds in the area. And Matheny believes she is ready to take the step to DI basketball next year.
“And Kelly in particular, I know that’s why she wants to play at the next level,” Matheny says. “She’s passionate about it and she wants to make a difference in how she competes.
McLaughlin says being on campus at Miami – although it’s not the Ivy League – just felt very similar.
“When I went to Miami it really just felt like home,” McLaughlin says. “So that’s really made my decision easy and the culture that Coach Wright puts in his program just makes it a great place and I’m so excited.
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