When Kelli Prange made up her mind to play college basketball at George Washington earlier this month, the Damascus rising senior forward did so independently. And she planned to deliver the news with stealth to her mother and new head coach, Jonathan Tsipis, two figures who will undoubtedly be pillars in the next step of her playing career.
She first told her mother through a waitress at an area restaurant, having the server bring out a birthday cake and congratulate her on being a Colonial. A few days later, at a lunch with Tsipis on June 5, she handed him a picture of her with lettering that read: “If the offer still stands, I would love to be a part of the Colonial family.”
“It was awesome,” Prange said.
Of course the offer still stood. Prange is headed to George Washington, and not because of fun and games she has played during the process, but because she is a 6-foot-4 post with guard skills who is trying to show a business-like manner in the weight room to get stronger this summer.
Prange, who averaged a team-high 15.8 points per game and led Damascus to a 23-3 finish and the Maryland 3A state semifinals last March as a junior, was pursued by a number of schools, including George Mason, Rhode Island, U-Mass. and Indiana. She seriously considered the Hoosiers, and visited Bloomington earlier this spring. And that was what cemented her allegiance to George Mason, she said.
“I kind of got the feeling going into Indiana, that GW was it, but I didn’t want to make that decision right there and then. But after visiting Indiana, I kind of got that feel that GW is it,” Prange said. “I fell in love with what Coach Tsipis has planned for GW, I think that he’s going to turn the program around big time and I just I want to be a part of it. I just think that would be an awesome experience.”
In his first-year last winter, Tsipis led George Washington to a 14-16 record. It is unclear if Prange will redshirt in 2014, but what is clear is that the Colonials have acquired a player that is comfortable playing on both the block and on the perimeter. She cited Elena Delle Donne, the 6-foot-5 forward who starred at Delaware before becoming a first-round pick in the WNBA draft this spring, as a player she wants to pattern her game after in college.
The more immediate influence on Prange is her sister, Kristina Prange, a former star at Damascus who signed with Shepard College (W.V.) before her senior season in 2011-2012.
“You could tell a difference, how she was playing with the recruiting and everything…you could tell she was nervous, anxious,” Kelli Prange said. “Her senior year, she didn’t have to worry about that, and focus more on her skill set and getting better. And that’s something that I really wanted to do. Because it is your senior year, and you want to make the most of it.”
After losing in the state tournament in March, Prange declared that she had big plans for her senior year, namely getting her team back in position to win a state title. This summer’s time in the weight room should help, said Prange, who has been lifting “every chance I get.” And so should getting the recruiting process out of the way. She certainly committed on her own terms.
“I wanted to do it in a creative way,” Prange said. “I wanted to do it in a way no one else has done it.”
Related: Recruit Watch: Database of offers