Chloe Pavlech's mind was made up.
The young point guard from Cincinnati met Brenda Frese, clicked with the Maryland coach immediately and was sold on suiting up for the Terps. There was just one minor hiccup preventing Pavlech from committing to UM on the spot:
She was still in middle school.
“The first time I met Coach Frese was at the [Women’s Basketball Coaches Association] games” in Cleveland in 2007, Pavlech said. “I asked for her autograph and she was so nice to me. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I love her.’”
Pavlech, who grew up idolizing former Terps standouts Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver, attended Maryland’s elite camp before her freshman year and again last weekend. As Pavlech and her grandmother were driving back to Ohio from College Park on Sunday, she got a call from Tom Jenkins, the sponsor of her AAU team.
“He goes, ‘Where do you want to go to school right now?’” Pavlech recalled. “I said, ‘Maryland.’ And he said, ‘Where do you want to go to school two years from now?’ And I said, ‘Maryland.’ And he said, ‘Well, why don’t you call Coach Frese and tell her that, because she’s going to offer you a scholarship.’ ... I was just jumping up and down. I couldn’t believe it. I told my grandma and she gave me the biggest hug. My mom was in a huge shock.”Pavlech, now a rising junior at Sycamore High in Cincinnati, committed later that day, becoming Maryland’s first commitment of the 2012 class.
“It still feels like a dream because Maryland has been my dream school since I was in the fifth grade, so it still hasn’t really hit me yet,” Pavlech said. “But it still feels great to be a part of the Terp family.”
A 5-foot-9 point guard, Pavlech averaged 11 points, six rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.7 steals as a sophomore starter for the Aviators. She had earned scholarship offers from a host of mid-major programs, which didn’t surprise Sycamore coach Paula Hayden, who also served as Pavlech’s fifth-grade physical education teacher.
“Right from the start, I knew she loved basketball,” Hayden said. “If she got her work done, she would come down with three guys and play 2-on-2 full court, every chance she got. She would come in my office and look at pictures of my former players. So it’s been exciting for me just to see her development.”
Pavlech dreamed of attending Maryland since elementary school, but admitted that she started to consider other colleges when she got to high school. Still, she held out hope for the Terps, treating last weekend’s elite camp as “an audition.” Pavlech sent text messages to Hayden throughout the weekend, giving her coach updates on a campus tour and playing pickup with current players.
While neither Pavlech nor Hayden expected a scholarship offer to be extended by Maryland last weekend, the Sycamore coach completely understood the rationale.
“I think what they saw was her improvement from her eighth-grade year to sophomore year,” Hayden said. “They’re thinking that by the time she’s a senior, we don’t want to let her go. She’s under the radar now, but at the end of July, she won’t be. ... She’s 5-9 and hopefully growing. She’s very physically strong -- thin but strong. She’s got that athletic build. Right when she walks in the gym, you just notice her. She’s very unselfish. She creates a lot for her teammates. She’s explosive.”
Pavlech, who plans on majoring in communications at Maryland, still thinks it’s “unbelievable” that her collegiate dreams have been realized. But that doesn’t mean she plans to rest on her laurels for her final two years of high school.
“I’m just going to keep working 10 times harder,” Pavlech said. “Sometimes, when people commit early, they stop setting goals because they’ve already committed. They’re like, ‘Oh well. It’s done.’ But I’m going to keep setting goals because I have even bigger dreams.”