As a basketball standout at St. Vincent Pallotti High, Tiffany Padgett attracted the attention of several Division I coaches, including those from Coppin State, Morgan State and New Hampshire.
But in the end she settled on Loyola University Maryland and Greyhounds' head coach Joe Logan could not be happier.
"She is a very versatile player. She has a lot of potential," Logan said of the 6-foot-1 sophomore center, who graduated from Pallotti in 2012. "She definitely has the tools to excel here at Loyola. She can play on the perimeter and in the post."
Padgett, a Laurel resident, is one of several current college players who played at Pallotti under former coach Josh Pratt. Loyola is now in its first season as a member of the Division I Patriot League, which means home-and-home games with nearby league foes Navy and American in 2014. The Greyhounds made the move from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), a higher-rated basketball conference but one with schools spread out more in the northeast than the Patriot League.
"I thought it would be a good fit for me," said Padgett, who spent part of her elementary school days at Scotchtown Hills in Laurel. "I liked the team and the coaches and it was a welcoming environment. It is close to home and a beautiful school."
The versatility on the court that brought her to Loyola, in a leafy neighborhood off North Charles Street in north Baltimore, has paid off this season for Padgett.
With 6-foot junior forward Steph Smith out for the season with an ACL injury, Logan has called on Padgett to play under the basket more.
Padgett started the first nine games this season for Loyola and averaged 25.1 minutes and a team-high 6.1 rebounds per contest, and also tallied 6.1 points per game.
The Greyhounds lost seven of their first nine games and play their first game after the holidays on Dec. 28 at Towson, just a few miles north of Loyola.
Padgett played four years at Pallotti and scored more than 1,000 points with more than 700 rebounds. She was an all-IAAM player as a sophomore and senior for the Panthers.
One of Padgett's teammates at Pallotti was Bev Ogunrinde, now a senior for the Panthers who has committed to play for Division I James Madison in Virginia.
"She has really improved. She was fun to play with because she learned from her mistakes," said Padgett, who was a senior at Pallotti when Ogunrinde was a sophomore.
Padgett played in all 30 games for Loyola as a freshman and was named to the all-MAAC Rookie team. She made 14 starts in a row at one point and averaged nearly 19 minutes per game.
"It was fun," she said of her freshman season. "It was definitely an interesting experience with my first college season, getting a feel for what it is like to play the college game. It was a fun experience. Now that I am a sophomore I know what to expect."
Padgett was recruited while at Pallotti and with her AAU team by several members of the Loyola coaching staff. That includes former assistant Alisha Mosely, a former standout at Mt. Hebron in Howard County and in college at Wake Forest. She is now the first-year head coach at Division III Washington College in Chestertown. Now Padgett is paying dividends for the Greyhounds' coaching staff.
"This year people know more about her," said Logan, the Loyola coach since 2006.
HOOP NOTES: Other Pallotti grads with women's college teams include Mariah Hankton at Division II Central Connecticut and Chizzy Ekedigwe at Division I Seton Hall … Other players in college from Pallotti include Laurel resident Brittney Davis at Division III McDaniel, Mariah Hankton at Division II Southern Connecticut and Natalie Harrison at Division II Nyack in New York. Harrison is teammates at Nyack with Laurel resident and sophomore Jamie McKeither (Meade) and junior Brianna Taylor (Oakland Mills). Harrison and McKeither (10 points) started Dec. 7 in a loss to University of the Sciences … Laurel resident Kelly Mitchell, who went to Holy Cross in Kensington, is a senior guard for Washington College under coach Mosely. Mitchell led the team in three-pointers last season … Laurel resident Raven Makins (Spalding) plays for Division I Central Connecticut … Laurel High grad Shayla Jenkins is a freshman at Division III Hood in Frederick.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun