As a product of Kokomo High School, IUK women’s basketball coach Whitney Farris understands the wealth of talent her program has at its fingertips in Howard and the surrounding counties.
But, when Farris left the City of Firsts to play her college career at Valparaiso, she was ready to leave the friendly confines and broaden her horizons.
She’s finding that today’s prospective college players share a similar sentiment. Nevertheless, four of Farris’ first 11 commitments have come from Howard, Cass and Tipton counties.
“I think it’s important to have local kids, [but] I’m a local kid myself, and I wanted to get out of Kokomo and experience new things, so I can understand that,” she said. “Hopefully, if we have some success those kids will think it’s OK to stay in Kokomo and get that IU degree, play basketball and be around friends and family.”
One of those local recruits undeterred by the perceived monotony of staying close to home was Tipton’s Lela Crawford. After a highly successful four-year career with the Blue Devils, Crawford this week signed on to be part of the cornerstone Farris is laying as the IUK women take flight in their first season this winter.
“She’s one of the few kids I talked to who was OK with being close to home,” Farris said. “I think it was important to her to have her family close and able to come watch her play. She’s an older sister, so a big draw for her was that it was local, as well as having that IU degree. I think Lela will be a great draw for us with crowds. I know her family is excited that she can play somewhere close to home.”
At 5-foot-7 guard, Crawford averaged 13.8 points, 7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, helping Tipton, along with fellow senior Kacie Juday, finish the season 18-5.