By LARRY VAUGHT
When the summer started Cassidy Jo Rowe was a Louisville fan. Not today, though.
The Shelby Valley freshman got a scholarship offer from Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell in mid-July and Tuesday decided she was ready to give her verbal commitment to UK before her freshman year of high school even started.
The UK women’s team is in Italy playing exhibition games but Rowe called the coaches about 2:30 p.m. EST to tell them she wanted to be a Wildcat.
“I’ve had a few weeks to think about. I talked to my parents and they were very supportive. I have always wanted to stay close to home and the (UK) coaching staff has been so good and so supportive and they just have a great program,” the Shelby Valley freshman said. “Once I got to really thinking about it, there’s no where else I would want to go.”
What about growing up a Louisville fan because her father was also a Louisville fan?
“I am a Kentucky fan today,” Rowe laughed and said. “The coaches were all really excited when I called. They were happy I was joining the Wildcat family and I am, too.
“I have already had a lot of people message me and congratulate and say they are so happy for me.”
Rowe admitted things got “crazy” after the UK offer — her fifth Division I offer — and anticipates getting a lot more messages and calls the next few days (she will join me on WPBK (102.9 FM, wpbkfm.com) Thursday at 7:20 a.m. to talk about her decision).
Rowe, age 15, averaged 9.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game last year for Shelby Valley (29-5). She was 53 of 144 from 3-point range (38 percent).
“No one really mentions my 3-point shooting but that is one of my best things,” Cassidy Jo Rowe said. “Usually everyone looks at me hustling, trying to make teammates better. But I work hard to be a good shooter.”
Rowe tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee last month during an AAU event in Chicago just before she got the UK offer. She came home the same day she had surgery and started physical therapy the next day on her own.
“My knee rehab is going really well. It’s ahead of schedule and everything is just doing really well so far,” she said.
Rowe admits she never anticipated having her college choice made this early and when the summer started never expected to even have an offer from Kentucky. However, she says she knows she made the right college choice even if she has made it way earlier than most high school athletes do.
“I think I am still going to make this decision no matter how old I am, so why not commit now,” she said. “There’s really no other school for me. My parents talked to me about the ups and downs of everything and are all for me going to Kentucky to play ball.
“Probably in the back of my mind, I never thought I would commit this early. But once I got to thinking about all the positives, it was just a pretty easy decision to make.”