By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
It took Kelsey McClure a while.
But the quest, she said, was worth it.
The Muskogee High senior and this past season’s All-Phoenix area Most Valuable Player has decided on playing at the University of Central Arkansas next season. She signed and faxed the papers on Monday night.
“Growing up I always associated D-1 with the Big 12, you know, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State,” she said. “As I got to looking around I found some D-1 places I didn’t even know about.”
One of those was Nicholls State in Thibodaux, La., which made the final cut of options. McClure said she also had offers from Dartmouth and Kansas and late last week, an offer from South Carolina. But the Conway, Ark., campus ultimately fulfilled her goal of wanting to play close to home, being a three-hour drive east on Interstate 40. Both UCA and Nicholls are in the Southland Conference.
“I really loved the atmosphere there and they have a good program for my major (broadcast journalism),” she said.
She visited there a week ago Sunday.
Dartmouth might have been the most intriguing since another Rougher, Victor Williams, plays football there. McClure has the grades for it, a 4.0 GPA.
“I didn’t end up visiting there, though,” she said. “Playing softball (Muskogee was in the slowpitch state tournament last week) this season limited me somewhat on the places I wanted to look at. But I’m extremely happy with my choice.”
There’s multiple ironies in the decision. One, it’ll be a throwback to the days she was an opponent of Alexus Wilson, who prior to the 2012-13 season signed with Oral Roberts. The two Muskogee High teammates were standouts on separate middle school teams – Wilson at Ben Franklin Academy and McClure at Alice Robertson -- before becoming four-year starters together at MHS.
She’ll also be teammates with a big-time high school rival in Bixby’s Christina Devers. Muskogee defeated Bixby for a regional championship two seasons ago and swept this past regular season’s series, only to fall in the area tournament while Bixby advanced through the other half of the east bracket and made it to the 6A finals, losing to Tulsa Washington.
“Christina and I have known each other a while, and played against each other in AAU a long time,” she said. “It’s great we’ll be teammates and you’re right, it will be kind of like it was at Muskogee as Alexus and I had to learn to work together. We were both competitive against each other as Christina was as a rival and I’m sure we’ll both go on to our own places and play the way we know how.”
The 5-foot-7 point guard averaged 21.5 points per game for the 2012-13 Class 6A area finalists along with 2.6 assists, 2.5 steals and 4.8 rebounds.
Wednesday is the final day of the regular signing period for Division I basketball players.