When Krystal Vaughn graduates from college in four years, she wants to be a sports agent. Right now, the Lake Clifton senior is busy trying to promote herself.
Within Baltimore City girls basketball circles, the athletic, 6-foot-1 Vaughn is known as one of the most talented, hard working and coachable players. She can - and sometimes does - play every position for the Lakers. Outside the city, however, she remains a virtual unknown.
Only a few college coaches have shown any interest. She has made an official visit to St. Francis in New York and is also getting a look from Virginia Commonwealth.
But coaches in the city wonder why she hasn't drawn more attention.
She averages 24 points, 13 rebounds and three steals per game for the 10-6 Lakers.
Practicing for her future career, Vaughn makes a great case for herself: "I could play inside-out, I'm versatile and I'd go through brick walls for you."
The only complaint coaches have about her is that they can't get her off the court or out of the weight room.
"She comes in and she wants to work out every day," said Lake Clifton coach Delora Walker. "She'll be a steal for somebody, because she's going to do whatever the coach asks her to do. She's going to work hard on her own."
Last summer, Vaughn turned in terrific performances to help the Baltimore Cougars place ninth at the Amateur Athletic Union 16-and-under championships in Cocoa Beach, Fla., said Cougars coach Tim Burroughs. Still, college coaches didn't seem to notice.
"Krystal should have gotten a lot [of] attention," said Burroughs. "She got quite a bit of exposure. Maybe coaches were looking for one or two players in the Baltimore area and not looking at the whole picture and the caliber of players that come out of the city. Krystal would be a good college player because she has the skills of an inside player and the outside shooting of a one or a two [guard]."
On the Cougars, Vaughn's talents fit right in with those of Angel McCoughtry, last season's All-Metro Player of the Year. Vaughn impressed St. Frances' 6-1 senior forward with her versatility.
"She's so underrated," said McCoughtry. "She's just as good as anybody out here. I would love to have her on my [high school] team. After our AAU practices, we would go one-on-one and she was hard to score on."
Walker said being at Lake Clifton, which has too many inexperienced players to be a city power, may have hurt Vaughn. "She never got the publicity I thought she should have got," said Walker.
Vaughn shouldn't need much other than her well-rounded game and exhaustive work ethic to sell herself. She consistently puts up big numbers against the Lakers' best opponents.
Last week, she scored 28 points in a 63-54 loss to then-No. 18 Southside. Earlier, she scored 30 in a loss to then-No. 7 Western.
"When you play Lake Clifton, everybody knows who's going to score and she still scores," said Western coach Donchez Graham. "She's a big-time talent."
What makes Vaughn so tough to handle is that she can do just about everything. She said she is a natural three (guard/small forward), but on Lake Clifton's inexperienced team, she moves in and out with ease, handling the ball one minute and pounding the boards the next.
"She's 6-foot tall and she can handle the ball," said Walker. "She has that first step - she can get past people. She can score in the paint. She can shoot the jumper. You pretty much can't defend her. You just want to contain her and that's what everybody in the city's realized."
Vaughn, who has a 3.2 grade point average, has also emerged as a leader for the young Lakers.
"They follow her a lot. They look up to her because she's a good role model," said Lakers senior guard Rayna Dukes, whom Vaughn calls her "sidekick" for the past four years.
Now, Vaughn is ready to move on. She plans to be the first person in her family to go to college. Although she would like to have a few more options, she plans to make the most of whatever opportunity she seizes.
"Life is basketball," said Vaughn. "I just love the game. I wake up every day thinking about practice. Every day is about basketball."