Forest Park senior guard Ashleigh Braxton had it all planned out: Before deciding where to play basketball in college, she would visit as many as five campuses and relish the experience of being a coveted Division I athlete.
But that plan was scrapped after she took her only official recruiting visit, to the University of Pittsburgh. Braxton unofficially committed to the Panthers last week and plans to sign with the school in November.
"I fell in love with it," Braxton said of her first trip to the city and the school. "I love the campus and the girls and the coaching staff. . . . I've had phone calls, e-mails, more phone calls. . . . It's just amazing.
"I think a lot of people were shocked that I committed immediately and didn't visit other places, but I knew it was right for me. My gut told me and my heart told me."
The 5-foot-10 Braxton also considered Miami, Richmond and Temple. One reason she liked Pitt was because Coach Agnus Berenato wants her to play shooting guard; in the past, Braxton has primarily been a point guard.
"I've fallen in love with being able to come off screens and shoot," said Braxton, who last season averaged 11.6 points, 7 rebounds and 7.2 assists and made 46 three-pointers for the Virginia AAA runner-up Bruins. "Over the summer I definitely proved that I could shoot, and I did a lot more shooting than I've probably done for a long time."
Pitt went 13-15 last season, going 5-11 in the Big East Conference. That was a marked improvement from the previous season, Berenato's first at the school, when the Panthers were 6-20 and 2-14.
Braxton, a second-team all-state pick, had surgery on her right ankle last month. She said her recovery is going fine.
She is the second Forest Park girls' basketball senior to unofficially commit to a college. Two-time All-Met guard-forward Monica Wright plans to sign with the University of Virginia.