April 9, 2014 11:05:15 AM
The past four years have prepared Taylor Baudoin for the next step in her basketball career.
After transferring from Immanuel Christian School to New Hope High School, Baudoin suffered a foot injury in her junior season that limited her playing time. Instead of allowing that injury to knock her off course, Baudoin used it as motivation. Not only did the 6-foot guard/forward return for her senior season in better shape, but she also was focused on making an impression that would help her realize her dream to play basketball at the next level.
That dream became reality Tuesday, as Baudoin signed a scholarship to play basketball at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville.
"It feels great," Baudoin said. "A lot of people have helped me throughout the years. To come to this point and to sign to play basketball for another two years is an amazing feeling."
Baudoin was an integral piece of New Hope's run to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A state semifinals. She was second on the team in scoring (12.6 points per game), rebounding (6.4), and steals (3.0) and first in assists (2.2). Her ability to play an up-tempo game and to mix her skills and play facing and with her back to the basket in the half-court set was instrumental in New Hope's 26-3 season that ended with a 50-48 loss to South Jones.
New Hope High coach Laura Lee Holman, a former basketball and softball standout at New Hope, complimented Baudoin in her opening remarks and said she believes Baudoin is the first girls basketball player to sign a basketball scholarship since she signed one to play at Troy. Holman said all eight of the team's seniors likely will receive an athletic or an academic scholarship to go to college.
For Baudoin, Holman said she never asked why she suffered the foot injury or complained about it, even when it was difficult for her to sit and watch. She said seeing Baudoin fight back and work hard to improve was "special."
"To me, that is what a champion is, somebody who says no matter what is thrown at me I am going to go after my goal," Holman said. "If she takes that mentality to Jones County, she is going to be extremely successful."
Holman said Baudoin deserves an opportunity to play at the next level and to apply her championship attitude. Looking back, she sees a parallel between how Baudoin worked hard in two years at New Hope High to the two years she likely will have at JCJC.
"It is another step in achieving her dream," Holman said. "She wants to play Division I basketball, and she believes Jones is going to give her the best opportunity to do that. It is kind of like she already has been through this once, and I think that will help her to adjust (to college life)."
When she was at Immanuel Christian School, Baudoin felt she "could" earn a chance to play basketball in college. She said the move to New Hope was a bigger opportunity that helped pave the way for her to attract even more interest from college coaches. She said it was hard to overcome the foot injury she suffered as a junior, but she gained confidence she could compete with the state's best players the past few years.
"In ninth and 10th grade, it just seemed like more like a dream than a reality," Baudoin said. "In the past two years, it really came to my attention I could do this, and I did.
"I worked a lot harder these past two years than I have had any other years in my life. To have coach (Holman) there every day pushing me, that made a huge difference, as did having the girls beside me. That was a big part in this."
Baudoin's investment in her game was an equally big part. She said it felt even more special and gave her a sense of pride that all of the hard work paid off and that her journey will continue.
"Signing today has proven I didn't do all of that hard work for nothing," Baudoin said. "Now I have to work even harder than I have before. It is (going to be a new set of challenges), but with the coaches and teammates I have had, I know I am ready for it and I can do it."
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Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.