ARLINGTON, Texas - Leadership is not a quality that is lacking when it comes to the 2017-18 edition of UTA women's basketball. With all-conference seniors Rebekah VanDijk and Cierra Johnson joining a group of seven overall returning member, the addition of junior transfer Laurynn McGowen only adds to the experience of the squad.
McGowen, a graduate of Arlington Seguin High School, returns home after spending time at Sam Houston State and New Mexico Junior College where she helped lead both programs from the point guard position. McGowen started in 22 of the 32 games for the Bearkats in her freshman season, and then helped lead the Thunderbirds of NMJC in assists with 64, all while averaging 10.9 points per game.
"I know that it helps me knowing how fast the game increases from high school to college, so having (Division I) experience, I already know the game," McGowen said.
For UTA coach Krista Gerlich, the addition of McGowen to the rotation has helped creat an added depth, not only in experience on the court, but leadership off of it.
"She is a mature and experienced player in Division I basketball," Gerlich said. "She is older and has been through a DI season, she understands the grind and the mentality of it. She is hungry to be on a really good team that she can be a big contributor for. I think it helps us tremendously in her leadership and mentality to get through a season."
Coming into the Lady Maverick program, an added bonus for McGowen was a familiar face when she stepped on campus for the first time. Teammates for her sophomore season, she was joined with Daiane Machado, an all-conference member for the Thunderbirds from Brazil.
"Off the court, it helped me become acclimated easier," McGowen said. "I knew I wasn't alone coming in. We were already friends coming in. On the court, having already played together for a year, I know her and she knows me so it helps us bring chemistry to the team."
The decision for McGowen to return back to her stomping ground was one that was based on the culture that she was looking for in a program. She said that the coaching staff at UTA were very family oriented, and that helped in making her choice.
With just 14 days until the Lady Mavericks step onto the court for their first game in Costa Rica as part of their summer tour, the point guard is relishing in the opportunity to learn about how her teammates play, as well as getting to enjoy the culture of the country.
"Not a lot of Division I teams get to do what we are doing, so it gives us a little bit of a head start in being able to play and for me to get to know my teammates," she said. "Since I am a point guard, I have to know a lot about my teammates. I've never been to Costa Rica before, so it will be a good experience. I am looking forward to the scenery and the activities and just being there in general. It is just a blessing being able to go."