An all-area high school player in soccer and basketball, Valparaiso's Grace Withrow went to college, Indiana University specifically, simply to be a student.
"We never really pursued anything," Vikings coach Candy Wilson said. "I knew she wanted to just go to college, so we shut things down right away when anybody would ask. She was pretty adamant about what she wanted to do."
When IU posted a notice about open tryouts recently, Withrow had a change of heart. Monday, she was added to the Hoosiers roster for the 2017-18 season.
"I’m thrilled to be a part of the roster for Indiana women’s basketball this season," Withrow said in a prepared statement. "I’ve been afforded a unique opportunity, especially as a junior in college, to be part of such a great program and I’m looking forward to getting started with the Hoosiers.”
Withrow, a 2015 Valpo grad, was not available for an interview, but Wilson helped fill in the blanks on the process.
"She told me about the open tryout a couple weeks ago and said she was going to try it," Wilson said. "She was like, why not? I was just ecstatic. It's pretty cool that somebody who's been out of the game three years now missed playing. The situation presented itself and it's one of those once in a lifetime opportunities."
While the chances of Withrow, a 1,000-point scorer at Valpo, making the team seemed like a long shot, Wilson wasn't going to rule anything out. She knew something might be developing when she was contacted by the IU staff.
"It wasn't something I had to search for, try to make up," she said. "I had nothing but high praise for her. She was a great person, a great player, a great leader. Obviously, she's a great athlete. My years with the all-stars, she could have blended right in. Why not her? Honestly, I just don't know what their needs are. At this point, you get your foot in the door, you never know. Anything's possible. I know she'll bring them energy."
Wilson said they've already made plans to see IU play this season.
"It all happened so fast," she said. "It's neat for us. It's never been a situation I've heard of as a coach. I've never had a player do it. Props to her for diving back in there."
IU was 23-11 last season, just missing the NCAA tournament, then advancing to the WNIT quarterfinals. Its roster had 11 players listed Monday prior to the addition of Withrow.
“We are happy to add Grace to the Indiana women’s basketball roster," Hoosiers coach Teri Moren said in a prepared statement. "She came to us through our open walk-on trials and we are looking forward to having her with our program.”