Purdue volleyball head coach Dave Shondell got an early Christmas present Sunday afternoon when Stephanie Lynch of New Albany High (IN) called to say she would be a Boilermaker. Once new prep rankings come out, the 6'3 junior middle hitter/blocker could end up one of Shondell's best recruits yet.
The Lynch family wanted to call Coach Shondell a month ago, but decided to wait until this past weekend. The recruiting letters continued to pour in.
"The attention is nice," Stephanie's father Delbert told Old Gold Free Press on Monday, "but it became monotonous after a while."
Purdue's proximity to New Albany was also a selling point, as the three hour drive makes it easier for the family to follow her career.
"We really liked the girls, the program, and the direction of the program," said Delbert. "Purdue has great fan support. For the couple of games we came to, there were a couple thousand fans. The band was even there."
After visiting Purdue and meeting with members of the volleyball staff and players, the family spoke with the athletic director Morgan Burke and Purdue president Martin Jischke. They also met with the Purdue women's basketball staff. Boiler fans, however, should not assume Lynch will be playing in Mackey Arena after volleyball season ends.
"She has more of a passion for volleyball," said Delbert. "We've had family discussions about the commitment involved."
Those family discussions did not close the door on the idea of playing basketball at some point. But in light of Stephanie's wish to enroll in the School of Pharmacy, one of Purdue's most intensive programs of study, basketball will take the back seat for the near future.
One thing is for certain, head basketball coach Kristy Curry would love to have Lynch as a part of the program. Lynch averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds, 4.6 blocks and 3.4 assists playing on the inside for New Albany's basketball team last season. She is thought of as one of the state's top post players in the Class of 2005, a list that also includes Valparaiso's 6'3 Cassie Kerns and Jeffersonville's 6'5 Samantha Johnson. She has already had a game this season where she had a triple-double with 26 points, 21 rebounds and 11 blocked shots.
Yet while her basketball talents are impressive, more impressive are her volleyball skills and upside potential. Lynch averaged a team-leading 4.24 kills per game and 1.3 blocks per game, while also adding 1.37 digs as the team's starting middle. She served 80 aces with an overall serve percentage of 86.41. Lynch ranked 4th in state in kills (382) and 3rd in kills per game. New Albany ended the year ranked 3rd in Class 4A, losing in the sectional finals to Floyd Central in five games.
Volleyball scouts John Tawa and Kevin Laseau of prepvolleyball.com, the leading source for prep volleyball news and scouting, think Lynch's commitment is a special one.
"She's a stud and a big pickup for Purdue," Kevin Laseau told us on Tuesday. "Lynch is not only 6'3, she's strong. She's like a linebacker roaming the middle on the volleyball court. She's a prototypical Big Ten monster."
Laseau's partner, John Tawa, agrees.
"When people first look at Stephanie, they see her size," said Tawa. "But what makes herspecial is her quickness and overall athletic ability, which is attributed to years of basketball playing. As someone fairly new to volleyball, her ceiling is very high, making her a special recruit for Purdue."
Just how special?
"I'd venture that when next year's senior recruiting list comes out, you'll see her somewhere between 5 and 20 nationally."
Lynch may also help to get Shondell an inroad into one of the top club programs in the nation, KIVA of Louisville, Ky. Lynch's ASICS KIVA 17 Red team won the 2003 AAU Girls Junior National Volleyball Championship this past June. The KIVA club teams not only won the national 17-under championship, but also won the 18-under, 15-under, 14-under and 13-under titles.
Lynch chose Purdue over a host of offers from major Division I programs, including two other frontrunners Notre Dame and Wake Forest. Southern California, Florida State, Louisiana State and Illinois were also a few of the programs being considered. Several of the schools were recruiting her as a two-sport athlete in volleyball and basketball.
Lynch plans to major in Pharmacy, and carries a 4.4 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.