Four Prince William area athletes have committed officially to Division I schools during the past two weeks, including one who has spent as much time on the bench as she has on the floor.
Woodbridge senior forward Whitney Allen, a reserve on the girls' basketball team last season, made the most of her court time and has earned a scholarship to George Washington University.
Allen's announcement is one in a series that includes Osbourn All-Met baseball player Jess Stewart (Notre Dame), Hylton girls' basketball player Jasmine Byrd (UNC-Greensboro) and Osbourn softball player Stephanie Gaynord (East Tennessee State).
Known for her ability to run the floor and finish in transition, the 5-foot-10 Allen could have started for most teams last season, but played in a reserve role for a Woodbridge squad that went 23-5 and reached the Virginia AAA state semifinals. Allen averaged 6.5 ppg and earned a spot on the all-Cardinal District second team.
"Everyone she played behind I think could have played Division I, too," Vikings Coach George Washington said, amused that Allen will have four additional seasons of George Washington in her future. "Whitney knew she'd get her opportunity."
The Colonials, 272-101 the past 13 years, advanced to the Women's National Invitation Tournament last season.
Hylton's Byrd, a first-team all-Northwestern Region pick at guard and a Street & Smith's preseason honorable mention all-American, led Hylton to a school-record 20 wins last season by averaging 15.6 points and 3.0 steals. The all-district volleyball and soccer player also sank 44 three-pointers.
The UNCG women have won 20 games or more four of the past five years, and last season earned their first berth into the Women's NIT.
Osbourn pitcher-third baseman Stewart, an All-Met selection and 2002 All-Extra player of the year, will continue his career at Notre Dame in the program in which his grandfather, Jack Stewart, played in 1945.
As a junior in the spring, the 6-4, 210-pound Stewart helped the Eagles go 24-1 by batting .434 with 25 RBI and going 8-1 on the mound with a 3.24 ERA. He was rated as the eighth-best pro prospect at Team One South Showcase in Georgia last summer.
"They were impressed with his size and his control on the mound, and they like his speed from the first inning to the last inning, which is pretty consistent," Osbourn Coach Keith Howell said.
The Irish last season reached the College World Series for the first time in 45 years.
Gaynord, a shortstop on the Osbourn softball team that won Cedar Run District and Northwestern Region titles, batted .390 and scored 23 runs for the Eagles, who reached the state semifinals and finished 20-5, ranked No. 9 in the Washington area.
Gaynord will join a program that last year went 25-32 in its second season. Osbourn graduate Jennifer Herzig is a Buccaneers' assistant, and Howell, Gaynord's volleyball coach, is an ETSU graduate.
Jessica Lonsinger (Hylton) and Julia McChain (Gar-Field) are freshmen on the ETSU roster.