Just prior to the start of her senior season, Maryville High School’s Torie Vaught has made a verbal commitment to play basketball for Belmont University in Nashville.
A 6-foot post player, Vaught averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game last season for the Lady Rebels and played a pivotal role in helping her team cinch a district crown and a sub-state runner-up finish.
Vaught was named 2010 Blount County Player of the Year, District 4AAA Player of the Year and district tournament most valuable player and received All-Region 2AAA and all-region tournament honors.
At season’s end the talented Lady Rebel was named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association All-State Team.
Lady Rebel Coach Kim Bledsoe is delighted with Vaught’s choice.
“Torie has been weighing this decision for a long time,” Bledsoe said. “She had so many good options to consider because she is an exceptional player and an exceptional person. I think Belmont will be a great fit for Torie, and I’m thrilled she has such a wonderful opportunity ahead of her to pursue her academic and athletic goals.”
Vaught estimates she made unofficial visits to nearly a dozen schools over the past four years, along with several official visits hosted by recruiting coaches, but it was Belmont that captured her attention. Vaught, who is interested in pursing a career in pediatric nursing, was particularly impressed with Belmont’s Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences and Nursing, along with the Curb Event Center, home to Belmont’s basketball program.
Vaught said a strong influence in her decision was Katie Brooks, a former Heritage High School standout, who this year transferred from University of Maryland Baltimore County to finish her collegiate basketball career at Belmont. Brooks hosted Vaught on campus, and the girls quickly found common ground in their Blount County connections and similar interests.
“I definitely fell in love with the campus when I visited this summer, but more importantly, I love the coaches and I love the girls on the team,” Vaught said. “My relationship with the coaches and players ultimately was the deciding factor.”
“I’m so glad I listened to my dad!” she added, admitting that her father insisted she attend an elite training camp at Belmont in June. “Before that, I had never considered Belmont, but I wanted to attend school in Tennessee, and I was looking for a place that not only had a good basketball program but also offered a strong academic program with low student-teacher ratios. After my week at Belmont this summer, I knew I had found where I wanted to be.”
Vaught said she was eager to make the decision so she could focus on the upcoming season at Maryville.
“We had a great season last year but we fell short of our real goal, which was to make it to the state tournament,” she said. “We have an experienced team coming back, and our goal is to be in Murfreesboro competing for the state title at the end of the season.”
Vaught plans to red-shirt her freshman year at Belmont, joining the playing roster in 2012.
“Most of the student athletes I’ve talked with have encouraged me to take a year to adjust to campus life and collegiate courses, so I’m going to take that advice and focus on school,” she said. “I also have a lot of work to do on the court because I’ll probably transition from the four position to a three guard. I’ll give my best to whatever the team needs me to do.”
Bledsoe said that kind of selfless commitment to her team is what sets Vaught apart.
“With Torie, it’s never about ‘I’; it’s always about the team. She’s an unselfish player who elevates the entire team with her attitude and performance.”
The Lady Rebels kick off their season with a matchup against Anderson County on Nov. 16 at Maryville.
Belmont, an NCAA Division I school, finished fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference last season.