The best girls basketball player in the Northern Lights Conference is headed to the Windy City.
Kodiak’s Joanna Garcia signed a national letter of intent earlier this month to attend Morton College, a two-year college in Chicago, Ill.
“They offered me a scholarship, so I couldn’t turn it down,” Garcia said last week during a shoot-around at Kodiak Middle School.
She visited Morton College early this month and likes what she saw. Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, with a population of 2.9 million.
She said she is looking forward to living in a city.
“It is way different than here,” she said.
Since her freshman year, playing in college has been a goal of Garcia’s.
She has put in her time in the gym to improve her game and it has shown on the court. This past season she was voted the Northern Conference’s Player of the Year, despite playing on a team that went 3-7 in conference play. She also made the 4A all-state third team while averaging a career-best 10.4 points per game her senior year.
“She deserves it. She is a good player. She will only get better there,” Kodiak coach Brett Larsen said. “The skills are there. For her it is all going to be getting over the mental aspect. She is not quite there yet. If she can get through that and get over that little block that she has, I think she will be fantastic.”
Morton coach Larry Lanciotti found Garcia on a recruiting website. He asked her to send a DVD of her high school games so he could get a better feel for her.
“After watching the DVDs I was sure that she would be a great fit for our team,” he wrote in an email. “I was looking for a girl who looked to be a solid point guard and she fit the bill.
“In addition, I was looking for a solid, disciplined player and from talking with her and working with her, I was confident she was that.”
Lanciotti, who was impressed with Garcia’s ball-handling skills, will use her as a 1 or 2 in his system. He also said Garcia will become the first player from Alaska to play for Morton College.
“I look for her to be an impact player for our program right away,” Lanciotti wrote.
Garcia, originally from the Philippines, moved to Kodiak with her family when she was 4 years old. She remembers her father, Victor, taking her to playgrounds to shoot when she was 3.
She credits her dad for inspiring her to play basketball.
“He just brought me to the gym whenever he went,” Garcia said.
Garcia is undecided on a major and hopes this two-year stop is just a stepping stone for something bigger.
“My coach told me he would help me find a four-year college to transfer to and play basketball there,” Garcia said.
A handful of colleges showed interest in Garcia before she choice Morton College, which plays in the Skyway Community College Conference. The Panthers went 6-25 last season.
“I’m excited for her,” Larsen said. “Hopefully it will open the flood gates for kids coming out of Kodiak to go play.”
Mirror writer Derek Clarkston can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.