Essence Townsend was searching for a basketball program that felt like family.
When the 6-foot-7 center from Paterson (N.J.) Catholic visited College Park last month, she found what she was looking for. Townsend committed to the Terps before returning to New Jersey.
“It really is like [a family]. I can go to any coach,” Townsend said. “Coach [Brenda Frese] told me she would be there for me regardless of basketball. It’s like those are my sisters already. It’s kind of cool to feel that way about a school when you just met those people.”
Townsend’s mother died when she was in fifth grade. Last year, her great aunt and guardian, Mary Jane Townsend, also passed away. She now lives with her aunt, Glenda Townsend, and her nine-year-old cousin.
Townsend said leaving her aunt behind will be tough. But it’s comforting that she’s going from one family to another, with her aunt’s full support.
“She really likes the school and thinks it was a good fit for me. She can see me being there,” Townsend said. “I spoke to her actually before I committed. And she said she’s behind me 100 percent.”
Here’s an introduction to Townsend.
Name: Essence Townsend
Birthplace: Paterson, N.J.
Hometown: Paterson, N.J.
High School: Paterson (N.J.) Catholic
Junior statistics: 10.5 points, 10 rebounds and 8.5 blocks
Other schools considered: Pittsburgh, Miami, Seton Hall
Favorite pro basketball player: Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker
Favorite pro basketball team: Los Angeles Sparks
Favorite music: Usher
Favorite book: Forged by Fire by Sharon Draper
Favorite movie: Love and Basketball
Favorite TV show: Lincoln Heights
Favorite food: Soul food
Favorite high school class: Math
Favorite thing about College Park: Varsity Grille
Hobbies: “I like to play basketball, go shopping and hang out with my friends.”
Intended major: Undecided
Something that not many people know about you: “That I’m afraid of the dark.”
Best basketball moment: “My first dunk in a high school basketball game.”
Role model: “My great aunt, Mary Jane Townsend.”
Why Maryland? “Because it’s a home away from home. I felt welcome there. I felt comfortable.”