Caldwell verbally commits to LMU

Published 3:01 pm Monday, June 25, 2018

Whitney Caldwell isn’t your ordinary high school basketball player. The soon-to-be sophomore has been an important piece of the Pineville puzzle since she was an eighth-grader. In two years, she will get the opportunity to grace the courts of Tex Turner as the Lady Lion verbally committed to Lincoln Memorial University.

Pineville coach Jamie Mills said LMU coach Krystal Evans spotted Caldwell at a camp when she was an eighth-grader.

“She watched her play and she said ‘(Caldwell) is really good,’” said Mills about a conversation he and Evans had during the camp. “(Evans) has been watching Whitney for several years and has invited her to her camps, and Whitney stood out in that. She likes everything about her.

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“She likes her defense. She likes her ability to score, her ability to handle the ball and most of all…she’s such a team player. She’s not out there trying to score 30 points. If she wanted to she could. (Whitney) is honestly a true team player. Any player would want her on your team just because if your open, she’s going to give you the ball.”

Caldwell earned a spot in the starting five as a freshman last year. Despite missing a few games due to a leg injury, she was the team’s second leading scorer averaging 9.9 points and three rebounds per game.

Caldwell had three 20-point games during the 2017-18 season. The first came against Lee, Virginia on Dec. 28 when the freshman tallied 20 points. The next was an overtime victory against Middlesboro on Feb. 6, where Caldwell scored a season-high 26 points.

The freshman guard put together a 21-point performance against Lynn Camp in the opening round of the 51st District Tournament.

As an eighth-grader, Caldwell was a key contributor as a rotation player. Coming off the bench, she averaged 4.8 points per game while shooting 40.7 percent from the field and 29 percent from three-point range. She also tallied 2.4 rebounds.

While her numbers weren’t off the charts as an eighth-grader, Caldwell began to shine during the 13th Region All A Classic. During the regional All A championship game, she was tasked with guarding Harlan standout and Tennessee Tech commit Jordan Brock. She limited Brock to 16 points — well below her 25.1 season average.

One thing Caldwell’s early commitment proves is being from a small school can be an advantage.

“Being from a small school is an advantage because girls get more one-on-one instruction. They get a better opportunity to play more minutes,” said Mills. “They get to play good team ball, and we’re playing at a high level. We’re competing against anybody and everybody in our region. That just shows you no matter what size school you’re at you’ve got the opportunity to play college ball.

“This is…four years straight that we’ve had someone to play college ball at Pineville, our girls have. I think that speaks highly. You don’t have to go to a large school to get a college scholarship. You can get one anywhere. We’re definitely proof of that. I actually have a couple more girls that colleges have come to watch.”

Lincoln Memorial University plays in the South Atlantic Conference in NCAA Division II. Last year, the team finished 18-11 (12-8, SAC).