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Lady Cav hoops standout commits to Albany

Lakeland senior Terika Lunsford verbally committed to attend and accept a basketball scholarship at the University of Albany on Tuesday.

Such an opportunity is hard-earned and well-deserved said her head coach at Lakeland, Alan Jones.

“She’s a prime example of a student-athlete who puts academics first, yet still excels on the basketball court,” said Jones.

In the classroom, Jones said Lunsford is around a 3.8 or 3.9 GPA. On the court, Lunsford, a 5-foot-11 guard with outstanding shooting ability from long- and mid-range, has gone from averaging 10 points a game as a sophomore to averaging 17 points per game last season, which put her fourth among Group AAA players in South Hampton Roads.

According to Jones, Lunsford is the first Lakeland girls basketball player to earn a Division I basketball scholarship. Lunsford will have an official signing at Lakeland in November.

“I didn’t know much about (Albany) until I was told about it,” said Lunsford.

While a number of other Division I teams showed interest, such as Illinois, Purdue, Old Dominion and Rhode Island, and URI offered Lunsford a scholarship in June, Albany set itself apart during its visit to see Lunsford during the summer.

Albany head coach Trina Patterson came first-hand to see Lunsford. Most of the time, assistant coaches make trips to see recruits, said Jones, but this showed Albany saw Lunsford as one of its most important recruits.

“The major was the first thing I was looking at,” said Lunsford, who plans to major in Biological Science.

“Being able to play basketball at the Division I level, that’s even better.”

“I feel confident about my decision and I’m happy about it. I feel I made the right decision,” said Lunsford.

After Patterson came to Suffolk to see Lunsford, Lunsford visited the campus in Albany.

“I was able to play and visit with the current players and see some of the teachers,” said Lunsford. Lunsford said the Lady Great Dane players made her feel welcome, took time out of their schedule to go out to eat, show her around the school and just hang out.

“With it being far away, I felt good that there was a family-type environment. I really need that,” said Lunsford.

Last season, the Lady Great Danes were 13-18 overall and 10-6 in the America East Conference. Patterson, in her sixth season as Albany’s head coach, was named the conference’s Coach of the Year. Patterson is a native of Newport News, played for four seasons and graduated from Virginia in 1987 and her past coaching jobs include William and Mary and assisting the U.S. national team in the 2003 Pan-American Games.

During this offseason, the Albany team traveled on a tour of Costa Rica and played two university teams and the Costa Rica national team.

“We’re ecstatic about this,” said Jones.

“She’s done a tremendous job working hard and being in the gym. Anything we said she needed to do, she’s done it.

“I’m happy because a lot of our younger players have the chance to see how hard work pays off,” said Jones.