We're just four weeks into the women's college basketball season, and Penn State freshman, Maggie Lucas has already earned three Big Ten's Freshman of the Week awards.
The shooting guard from the Philadelphia area lit up the scoreboard for 28 points, including six 3-pointers and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line against Boston College in the Big Ten/ACC challenge last week. It was a personal best in her month-old college basketball career, but you definitely get the feeling that there is much more to come.
"It's exciting to win an award, but it's also a testament to our team," Lucas said during a phone interview from the Bryce Jordan Center. "We're all scoring and doing some great things, and it doesn't happen for me without a balanced attack. It has a lot to do with my teammates."
Those teammates were wooed by Coquese Washington and Company, and include a freshman recruiting class ranked among the nation's top-20. But perhaps more important than their high school resumes is their collegiate attitude: this year's Lady Lions are embracing their individual roles in pursuit of a common goal, determined to return the Penn State program to its glory days.
"We talk about playing for those who have come through before us," Lucas says. "We didn't get the Nike sponsorships and season ticket holders - those former players did, and it's our job to keep the tradition going."
Like most freshmen, Lucas says the speed of the game is the biggest adjustment from high school to college basketball, but she seems to be handling it all in stride. She tops the team's scoring stats, averaging just over 16 points per game; the freshman has made an instant impact on the Lady Lions offense.
"The biggest thing is you have to play 110-percent, 100-percent of the time; you can't take any plays off," she says. "You have to leave it all on the court."
Despite the accolades and increasing attention, Lucas has her head on straight. While expectations for her are rising, so is her confidence and her maturity; she knows she's got to grow up fast. Still, Lucas isn't rushing to the head of the class.
"We have very strong leaders on the team, so that's not my role, but if I can be a leader to the other freshmen, that's something I can do - Alex [Bentley] and Julia [Trogele] are great role models - I'm just trying to follow the leader right now."
The squad is 7-2, thanks to a balanced attack that features four players scoring in double figures. Lucas credits that to inspiring coaches and a strong team philosophy.
If the Lady Lions are as harmonious off the court as they seem to be on, they may be putting on their dancing shoes this spring.
Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Kellie@BedfordCountyChamber.org.