After playing two seasons of college basketball at Division I Loyola of Maryland, Tiffany Padgett decided it was time for a change.
Padgett, who grew up in Laurel, transferred to George Mason University after she was an all-conference rookie of the year in 2012-13 and a solid contributor as a sophomore in 2013-14 for the Greyhounds.
“Yeah, I mean it was definitely hard in the moment to figure out if anyone wanted me or where I would go,” said Padgett, a former standout at St. Vincent Pallotti in Laurel. “It was definitely scary”.
But she found a good landing spot at George Mason University, a Division I member of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“I am happy with the decision,” the 6-foot-1 Padgett said.
The red-shirt senior forward certainly went out with a bang in her last college season.
Twice she scored a season-high 20 points.
The loss ended a 13-17 season for the Patriots.
“Honestly I have to give credit to my teammates,” Padgett said. “They are doing a good job of finding me when I am open. We are creating a good opportunity for each other. I think the big deal for me playing more is I have not had as much foul trouble. I would (sometimes) get two or three fouls in the first half. Now I may just get one or two in the first half. That has been a key for me getting more time.”
So how did Padgett, who averaged around 8.8 points per game this season, become an offensive force down the stretch?
“I think she has been a little bit more aggressive,” said Nyla Milleson, in her fourth season as the George Mason head coach. "If she stays aggressive she can score the basketball."
Padgett, who averaged 5.1 rebounds per game, was able to stay out of foul trouble during February.
“She knows she is going to get some fouls,” said Milleson, who came to George Mason from Missouri State.
Padgett played four years at Pallotti and averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in her career for the Panthers.
She was an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland all-star as a sophomore and senior and played in 59 games in two seasons at Loyola.
Last season, as a redshirt junior at Mason, she played in 31 games, with 29 starts, and averaged 7.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 25.5 minutes per contest.
She was second on the team with 38 steals and was third in rebounding and fourth in scoring.
Padgett set what was then a career-high with 14 points against La Salle.
She hopes to explore a career playing overseas.
"She has the ability and talent to do that," Milleson said. "It comes down to if that is what she wants and puts in the work."
Padgett has kept in touch with a few of her former Mason teammates who have played overseas.
One of them is Taylor Brown, who averaged 15 points per game last season for the Patriots and played five games in Iceland last year before she left in October. Brown is from Bowie and played at Bishop McNamara High.
Kristi Mokube, who averaged 11 points per game last season for George Mason, has been playing this winter for a pro team in Germany.
The Laurel product got a degree from Mason last semester in criminology and has been taking graduate courses this semester.
"I would like to continue a basketball career if possible. If not, I will enter the work world. I am not sure what the fall has in store, Padgett said.
Note: Former Pallotti basketball standout Chizoba Ekedigwe is a coordinator of basketball operations for the women's team at Seton Hall. She is a former player for the Pirates and a 2015 graduate of Seton Hall.