The 5-foot-5 James, regarded as one of the purest outside shooters in the area, helped Paul VI to its first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament title last winter. She made her decision late last week, choosing Villanova over North Carolina State, George Washington and Saint Joseph’s.
“It just had the whole package. … The thing that stood out to me about them is that they’re not solely focused on basketball, but they’ll kind of help you after college,” James said. “They sounded like they have my best interest at heart.”
James averaged 6.3 points last winter for the Panthers, who finished 29-5 and enjoyed the best season in school history. Paul VI defeated rival St. John’s in the WCAC title game and won its eighth Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association title in March.
That success came a year after James helped Bullis to an Independent School League title before transferring last summer. She hit 15 three-pointers and shot 68 percent from the foul line in a reserve role and joined a core of underclassmen who helped guide the Panthers while All-Met guard Ariana Freeman sat out 12 games with a knee injury.
“It’s different. Two different schools. I love them both. I loved being at Bullis and now I love being at PVI,” James said. “It’s just been a really special season.”
James’s role will only grow with the departures of Freeman and guard Lindsey Oblitey, she said, and extra polish is being added to her game this summer with Team Takeover, her AAU team. James is the seventh-ranked point guard in the country by ESPN.
Villanova, which finished 23-9 last season, also has a oral commitment from rising senior point guard Adrianna Hahn of Ursuline Academy (Wilimington, Del.).
“I think I’ll be able to push the tempo more and give them a different look,” James said of playing for the Wildcats in two years.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 28
Goals scored this season by Loudoun County striker James Moreno, who scored twice to lead his team to a 6-0 win over previously unbeaten Chancellor in the 4A North title game Friday.
— On Saturday, the Arizona Diamondbacks selected JB Bukauskas in the 20th round with the 600th overall pick, making him the second area high school player selected in the 2014 MLB Draft. Bukauskas could have been a first-round pick, but he told major league clubs he would pitch for North Carolina instead of signing a pro contract.
–Tori Riopelle’s focus on hips helped Briar Woods fend off Stone Bridge in a 10-round shootout for the Virginia 5A North region championship Friday.
–Noah and Josephus Lyles helped lead T.C. Williams to the Virginia 6A boys’ track and field state title over the weekend, while the South County girls made a splash by placing second.
VIDEO FROM THE WEEKEND
PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND