Jeffersonville senior Nan Garcia had offers from at least 15 women's college basketball programs. She narrowed it down to five and chose Penn State over Missouri, Miami University, Dayton and Purdue on Friday during a radio broadcast on The Big X and a News and Tribune stream on Twitter.
An Indiana Junior All-Star last season, Garcia is one of the state's top prospects but she spoke about unfinished business for the Red Devils, whose season gets underway Nov. 6.
"It feels really good to have it out of the way and now I can give all my focus to Jeff and play for a sectional championship. Give it everything I've got. I've got nothing to hold back. I just continue to get better every single day," Garcia said. "Constantly in the gym, getting in better shape every single day, just being able to be that star player that I have to meet my standards up to."
As for the decision, Garcia, a native of Puerto Rico, will make a new home an 8 1/2 hour drive from her hometown.
"Playing in the Big Ten, I'll play away games closer to home," Garcia said. "To be honest, it's just that family feel. When it feels like home, that's the place I belong. Truly that's how I saw it."
The 6-foot-1 Garcia is excited to play for one of the rising stars in women's basketball. Penn State coach Carolyn Kieger was a semifinalist for 2019 Naismith Women's Coach of the Year following a 27-8 season for Marquette last season. Keiger takes over a Nittany Lions' program with a rich history in the sport.
"The system she run is very high pace, which is just like we run here. It wouldn't be such a transition, and I think that's important," Garcia said. "I'll be a swing, what they call a 3 guard. My shot's improved 10 times better than it [was]. It's crazy to say I'd get recruited for my shooting freshman year. But it's my senior year and I am getting recruited for my shot. Even my school schedule's worked around shooting, I'm on the gun. Coach [Mike] Warren's always told me 'if you want to go play Big Ten-ACC basketball, you've got to shoot. He hasn't been wrong yet so I'm gonna keep listening."
Warren said it's been an enjoyable process talking with college coaches about Garcia.
"I've spent a lot of time on the phone with a lot of people. But it's been so fun to get to know all these people," Warren said. "Just making relationships and friendships. It's opened up a whole different world for other kids as they come through to help other kids get to college."
Warren said he didn't have to sell Garcia; coaches were drawn to her upbeat personality.
"She's just a wonderful kid to talk to, very mature, well-spoken. I'm sure they experience everything with kids on the phone. We're very very close. I can't say a bad word about her. They rave about her and gush about her. she's charismatic in the way she talks and communicates to people. She's just a very special kid."
Garcia entered the Jeff program as a freshman post player and has developed into a well-rounded player.
"She grew up without a trainer with visions of playing college softball. She was a post player as a freshman. Last year she shot 41 percent from 3 and now that's what these colleges are recruiting her as, somebody who can knock down the 3-point shot. She's transformed from a back-to-the-basket post player as a freshman."