Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hislop adds the jewel to her crown

Paint Branch guard verbally commits to James Madison University

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laurie dewitt⁄the gazette
Tarik Hislop verbally committed to James Madison University this summer and will enter as the Dukes’ prize recruit of the incoming 2009 class.
It’s rare for a high school athlete to accomplish all there is to do with a year’s worth of eligibility remaining.

Rising Paint Branch senior Tarik Hislop has come as close as possible on the basketball court. She added a college scholarship to her list of accomplishments last week, verbally committing to James Madison (Va.) University, where she will enter as the prize recruit of the Dukes’ 2009 incoming class.

A three-year starter and two-time All-Gazette first-team guard, Hislop helped lead the Panthers to an unbeaten, 25-0 record last winter, culminating in the Class 3A State Championship. She averaged over 21 points — including her 1,000th — seven rebounds and four steals per game, and was named The Gazette Player of the Year.

James Madison coaches have coveted Hislop since 2006. They offered her a scholarship before her junior season, in which she led the Panthers in assists, steals and points per game (17).

‘‘They were one of the originals that followed her from way back,” said Paint Branch head coach Heather Podosek. ‘‘They were pretty much like, ‘No pressure either,’ put the offer on the table said, ‘Here you go, the offer’s on table until you say no.’ That’s big on their part to take that chance, and Tarik likes that.”

Hislop’s verbal comes so early because it was a relative no-brainer. Though she says other Division I schools — Temple, Seton Hall, Towson, Richmond, George Mason and ‘‘basically the whole [Colonial Athletic Conference]” — were interested, the Dukes committed to her the earliest. This past year, she attended two James Madison games. Their fast-paced offense — second in the league only to Old Dominion at 72 points per game — was a perfect fit for her own up-tempo skills.

The real clincher came two weekends ago, when she went on an official campus visit. Podosek even sensed the decision would come quickly ‘‘if she liked it there socially.” She did, and it did.

‘‘I loved the campus, I loved all the coaches, I like how the team plays, I liked it all,” said Hislop. ‘‘I go to chill with the players and I’m like, ‘This is perfect.’”

It was an all-around perfect year for the 5-foot-7 combo guard, which makes one wonder if 2008-09 can possibly measure up. But with Hislop, fellow All-Gazette first teamer Khalilah Quigley, forward Alexus Jones and the Jenny Magid⁄Brene Moseley guard combo all returning, there’s no reason to believe the Panthers won’t again be the class of Montgomery County.

For now, Hislop is working to get better not only for next year, but beyond. One of four current commits in the Dukes’ 2009 class, she projects immediately to back up current sophomore Dawn Evans, who led the conference in three-pointers made as a freshman. Then again, who knows? Maybe she could start from day one.

If nothing else, she’s tough enough to do so.

‘‘It will really be good thing for her will have mentor, and she’ll compete for playing time right away,” said Podosek. ‘‘She played a lot of pickup down there, and she goes ‘Oh my God, they’re strong as [expletive] coach, they don’t call any fouls.’ But she didn’t get knocked down. She’s already a strong kid.”