Mikayla Vinson took a vicious elbow to the face last week during an AAU tournament in Orlando, and the cut not only prompted 12 stitches above her eye – but also sparked concerns that she may have re-aggravated a concussion that changed her basketball career two years ago.
The 5-foot-7 point guard played at Yorktown as a freshman, but missed most of her sophomore season due to a concussion – and that injury was the deciding factor in not playing high school basketball as a junior last winter.
She never ruminated about the decision being a bad one, or that it would jeopardize her future playing college basketball. Venson’s faith in taking an unconventional route through her high school hoops career paid off on Sunday, when she orally committed to Virginia, ending a recruiting process that had attracted schools such as Tennessee, Louisville, Wake Forest and South Carolina, among others.
“At first, I was thinking about maybe committing in August. And then when I came back from [AAU tournaments in] Florida and Tennessee, I was just like, ‘I’m ready to commit now,” Venson said. “I just really felt like U-Va. was a really great place for me, and I didn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Although she did not play for Yorktown last year, Venson has the benefit of working under the tutelage of her father, Michael Venson. The 1989 All-Met Player of the Year out of Oxon Hill, Venson went on to star at Georgetown and James Madison – and has been key in his daughter’s development.
“Because I’m so close to my family, and because I’m so family oriented, that was the number one factor,” Mikayla Venson said. “I just felt like U-Va. was the perfect place. It fit me very well. They are very family oriented.”
This summer Venson is playing AAU basketball for the first time since 2008, joining local powerhouse Team Takeover. The squad boasts plenty of Division I talent, including Paul VI and Louisville commit Ariana Freeman and star Bullis center Lynee’ Belton, as well as Raven James, a prized recruit who transferred from Bullis to Paul VI earlier this summer.
In Venson, Virginia acquires a point guard who has been lauded for her intelligence and shooting skill both on the perimeter and at the rim. The Cavaliers, who finished 16-14 a year ago and lost in the first round of the ACC tournament, boast a young roster. Just three seniors and two juniors return next winter for third-year Coach Joanne Boyle.
After finishing up her AAU schedule this summer (her stitches have been removed, but “it’s a little battle wound I can talk about,” said a beaming Venson), she will likely sit out next year’s high school season as well, opting to prepare for college ball at Virginia under the training of her father. Her health “always comes first”,” she said, and the decision to stay away from school ball has preserved her stock as a recruit.
“I did decide that it was just maybe a good idea, just because of my health issues and everything, that I didn’t need to play anymore high school ball,” Venson said. “I’m committed now, so I really think it was a good decision that I made.”
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