WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Merrillville's Victoria Gaines set to be a Spartan

2013-09-30T17:37:00Z 2014-06-24T18:06:32Z Merrillville's Victoria Gaines set to be a SpartanHillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com
September 30, 2013 5:37 pm  • 

Michigan State was the first school to offer a scholarship to Victoria Gaines the summer after eighth grade.

On Monday, the Merrillville forward accepted it. The junior Gaines gave her commitment to the Spartans, above Purdue and Ball State which were in her top three schools.

"I just felt comfortable there," Gaines said. "The staff made me feel a part of the team, they made me feel comfortable around them. I just felt really welcomed every time I went up there."

After an ACL tear that came in the sectional semifinal her freshman year hampered her offseason before her sophomore season, Gaines returned last year to average 13.2 points with 6.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. As a freshman, she averaged 15.8 points with 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game.

Her AAU season this summer added even more teams to the offer list. She had been contacted and had offers from nearly every team in the Big Ten and almost every Division-I team in Indiana.

""This summer she had a fantastic year," Merrillville coach Amy Govert said. "I heard from just about every Big Ten school, Nebraska was the only one I didn't hear from. ... This is awesome for her, it shows how much her hard work has paid off."

Because Gaines is a volleyball player, she doesn't attend fall basketball open gyms, so colleges have attended Pirates volleyball games to show they're still interested in the 6-foot-1 shooter.

Gaines committed after school Monday and college coaches were already calling Govert nearly two hours after the commitment.

The junior said she made her choice early, because she already knew where she wanted to go to school. She plans to major in kinesiology or sports medicine.

"I was positive where I was going to go," Gaines said. "Because I felt so comfortable there, why wait if you already know? It's better for me not to wait."

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