It was such good news Bailie Roberts had to hear it twice for it to really sink in.
The Maryville High School senior fulfilled a lifelong dream to sign a basketball scholarship with a Division I college when she inked a National Letter of Intent with Southeast Missouri State University last Wednesday morning.
Roberts, a super athletic small forward, was first offered by the Lady Redhawks coaching staff by phone earlier this fall.
“I was talking to him one night and he was talking about my strengths,” Roberts said.
Toward the end of the conversation, Southeast Missouri coach John Ishee mentioned how much he would like for Roberts to become a Lady Redhawk. Roberts said she wasn’t sure at the time if Ishee was just being nice or if what he’d just said was an official offer.
A week later, Roberts got another call.
“My AAU coach said, ‘You have been given an offer by Southeast Missouri State!” she said.
That cleared it all up. The Lady Redhawks now have themselves a jump-shooting, all-court performer whose high school resume, both on the court and in the classroom, is both impressive and substantial.
Among several schools Roberts considered, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point was perhaps most intriguing. A 4.0-plus grade point average at Maryville, along with the skills Roberts has on the hardwood, make the 5-foot-10 scoring machine an attractive prospect to the Corps of Cadets.
“I loved it up there,” Roberts said, “(but) with West Point, you have to be 100 percent sure you want to live that lifestyle.”
Looking for a less vigorous approach to college basketball, Roberts eventually settled on Southeast Missouri. The Lady Redhawks are getting a genuinely unique player as a consequence, Maryville coach Kim Bledsoe said.
“It’s pretty rare because, a lot of times, we think Division I players have to be over 6-feet tall,” she said.
In Roberts, Southeast Missouri is getting a shooter with a polished inside/outside game that can also put the ball on the floor. A power-hitting third baseman for the Maryville softball team, Roberts is also a real speedster on the hardwood. Her jump shot, all extension, good form and rotation, is right out of a textbook.
Roberts credits former Lady Rebel coach Suzanne Singleton with perfecting her shooting stroke.
“I started working with her in the sixth grade,” Roberts said.
The end result is fun to watch.
“Bailie knows what to do with the basketball,” Bledsoe said.
Roberts averaged 17 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season for Maryville a year ago. She’ll be counted on for much more this winter. She’s up for it, Lady Rebel teammate Mariah Lawrence said.
“Bailie’s a good leader when she’s on the floor,” Lawrence said. “If someone’s not doing what they’re supposed to do, she’ll pull them aside.”
The biggest thing about recruiting for most prospects is when it’s over. There are things Roberts will work to improve about her game this season, but, for the most part, Wednesday signaled the tough part is over.
“Now what I want her to do is relax and play,” Bledsoe said. “Everybody’s going to be keying on her.”
Roberts won’t begin her career at Southeast Missouri not knowing anyone. The Lady Redhawks also have commitments from West High School guard Erika Lane and Fulton’s Jasmine Lewis. Trio are AAU teammates and know each other’s game well.