One of the best high school girls basketball players Gig Harbor High has ever produced will officially play college basketball.
Senior standout and state champion Maddie Willett earned a full-ride scholarship to play basketball at California Polytechnic State University.
Willett, an A student in the classroom, had already been accepted to Cal Poly in the school’s architectural engineering program.
“That was before I had even talked with the coaches,” Willett said. “I got into the school on my own. Then they got a hold my video and contacted me.”
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That was around the beginning of March of this year. Willett took an official visit in April and committed recently. Since the end of basketball season, Willett had been going back and forth on whether or not she wanted to play college basketball. If she did, she wanted it to be at a prestigious university where she could receive a quality education also.
Cal Poly fit the bill.
“I didn’t want to have any regrets,” Willett said. “A really good education is something that Cal Poly will definitely give me. Having your school paid for is a big factor of it, too. It came down to not wanting to have regrets, trying to do something I want to do. Just really going for it.”
Willett said at times, she puts too much pressure on herself on the basketball court and deals with the accompanying stress. She wants to change that in college.
“I’m hoping to just make basketball fun again,” Willett said. “Just focusing on the fun part of it and get a really good education, as well. Basketball became really stressful for me. I want to take that away, just focus on getting better and having fun.”
Willett said she felt the atmosphere will be a good fit.
“I really love the coach (Faith Mimnaugh),” Willett said. “She’s very soft spoken, kind and caring of our lives outside of basketball, as well as on the court. Just how everyone seemed really friendly and like a family. Being on a new campus out of state, having a family atmosphere is really important.”
Willett said Mimnaugh and her coaching staff liked Willett’s versatility, when watching the tape.
“I’m a guard but I’m able to do things in the post, shoot, drive and rebound, which is really helpful as a college player,” Willett said. “Just being able to do multiple things.”
Willett said she loved the San Luis Obispo area, the proximity to the beach and all the things to do around town.
“It’s a beautiful campus, beautiful town,” Willett said. “It’s not just a college town. There’s different kinds of people of different ages. I think that’s special to me. It’s a family town.”
Willett leaves Gig Harbor as one of the school’s top players in the program’s history, and helped Gig Harbor to the program’s first state title in girls’ basketball.
“It’s awesome that I’m a role model for younger girls and even boys in Gig Harbor,” Willett said. “I get a lot of kids that look up to me, tell me things that make me feel special, that I’m actually helping them and influencing their basketball career. If you set your mind to something and want to do it, you can do it if you put in the hard work. But not everything is just about basketball. It’s about an education. Just showing kids that college is something they can do.”