May 22, 2010 11:42:00 PM
New starts happen all of the time in college athletics.
Jamie Gunter knew after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee and having to sit out her freshman season at the University of Louisiana Lafayette that change might be the best thing for her.
But the former Heritage Academy and Columbus High School standout listened to the advice of her father and decided to give ULL another chance.
One season later, Gunter came to the conclusion it would be best for her to transfer. When she began to consider her options, Gunter knew she wanted to be a little closer to home and to be a part of a program on the rise and that would help her get back to a Division I school.
The East Mississippi Community College women''s basketball program fit the bit in both instances.
That''s why Gunter decided to join Sharon Thompson''s Lady Lions for the 2010-11 season.
"I didn''t fit into the system," Gunter said of ULL. "The way things were done I felt like it wasn''t the place for me."
Gunter played in 30 games (three starts) and averaged 5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 13.3 minutes for ULL (9-22). She said Thompson had recruited her out of high school and that the coach had maintained a friendly relationship with her and her family. The comfort level she had with Thompson made her decision that much easier when it came time to transfer.
"It is like a new start," said Gunter, who was a redshirt freshman this past season. "I feel really good and positive about it. I am happy about the decision. I can''t wait to start working with coach Thompson. I feel we''ll be able to do good things with the team and that we''ll be able to take EMCC where it wants to go."
Gunter played two seasons at heritage Academy before transferring to Columbus High for her final season. She lettered in basketball and softball at heritage Academy for two years. She lettered in basketball, softball, and track and field in her one year at Columbus High.
Gunter was named All-State at both schools. In addition to being a three-time All-Conference member, she was named All-District in softball at both schools. She led the state in scoring (27.2 points per game) as a senior, and was a member of the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star team.
Gunter said it was "very rocky" for her at first coming off the knee injury. She said she took it really slow rehabilitating from her first serious injury. She said she now feels more confident about her knee and isn''t wearing a brace on her right knee anymore.
"I am not 100 percent back to where I used to be, but I believe my game has developed," said Gunter, who is studying marketing. "The injury has allowed me to watch basketball and to see mistakes. I think sitting out a year with the knee injury did more positives than negatives."
Thompson has known Gunter since the ninth grade. She said she recruited her heavily out of high school and didn''t have a problem when she lost her to a Division I school. She said she loved the way she played in high school and is "very fortunate" she decided to transfer to EMCC.
"I like her size," Thompson said of the 5-foot-10 Gunter. "She has a great looking body. The main thing we''re going to love is the experience she is going to bring. She went through workouts with the ULL team before she tore her ACL. I talked to the coaches and they spoke highly of her."
Thompson envisions Gunter playing a two guard or a small forward. She is confident Gunter will work hard and set a positive example for the program.
"I think she will have more looks (from colleges) than she had coming out of high school," Thompson said. "She is a great kid from a great family. Anytime you can get a kid from a great family and who has great family support and who is a great athlete, it is a win-win situation."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
2. Harris, Heritage Academy will count on seniors to lead way HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Howland likes MSU's non-conference schedule COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Central Academy hopes to contend for state title HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. Walters column: Prep football season coming closer LOCAL COLUMNS