By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
With the stroke of two pens, Alice Lloyd College coach John Mills signed two players he feels like will contribute in keeping his Lady Eagles as one of the top teams in the KIAC.
South Laurel’s Taylor Arthur and Emily Clonce both signed their letters of intent Wednesday and are looking forward to taking the next step in their careers. Mills is thrilled to have both players.
“This is a huge day for our program,” Mills said. “At the end of every season you look at your roster and evaluate what you have and what you need to take you to the next level.” Mills feels like both girls are just what he is looking for.
“Emily has the length and quickness and the desire to grow into our program,” Mills said. “Our current players fell in love with her when she visited and I look forward to having her for the next four years.”
Clonce transferred from Thomas Walker High School in Virginia prior to her sophomore year. She didn’t see much playing time during that year, and spent most of her junior season injured. She thought that injury might have hurt her chances to pursue her dream of playing basketball in college.
“Yes, I thought it would hurt my chances,” Clonce said. “I didn’t get to spend much time on the court during my junior season. It seems like my foot was in that boot forever. But I did get to play in the first round of the district, and that helped.”
Clonce was able to overcome that injury and turn in a strong senior season. She played in all 26 games for the Lady Cardinals, averaging 9.2 points per game (second on the team) and 5.2 rebounds per game, also second on the team.
“Emily has the potential to really blossom at Alice Lloyd,” South Laurel coach Konnie Snyder said. “You could tell about halfway through this past season that her confidence grew more and more. She hasn’t even come close to realizing her potential both in basketball and academics.”
Clonce has been playing basketball since seventh grade. She said she chose Alice Lloyd for a variety of reasons.
“I really like the girls when I visited there,” Clonce said of her future teammates. “And they have the program that I want to get into, which is physical therapy.” She also liked the idea that she would be attending the same school as Arthur.
“That will help a lot,” Clonce said. “We’re real close.” She also said that she will need to work on handling the ball better, especially in pressure situations.
In Arthur, Mills believes he has a player that will step in right away and contribute.
“This is a huge opportunity for our program to get a player like her,” Mills said. “She is ready to come in and play right away. She’s a leader on the floor by the example she sets. And she encourages her teammates.”
Mills said the first thing that caught his attention in the Lady Cardinal center was her ability to post up.
“She posts up better than most of the guys I’ve seen play at any level,” Mills said. “That impressed me right away. And she did that against the best every night. I’ve seen the scheduled South played.”
Arthur finished her senior season averaging a double-double with 17.8 points per game 12.3 rebounds per game.
“They have a really good program at Alice Lloyd and I really liked the girls and the coach,” Arthur said. “And their style of play is a lot like ours. I’ve been playing basketball since I was in third grade, and it has always been a dream of mine to play in college.”
“Taylor is going to be a success no matter where she goes,” Snyder said. “She’ll have an immediate impact. I’m looking for big things from her.”
Arthur played both basketball and volleyball in high school, but said basketball has always been her love.
“I love it,” Arthur said. “I love basketball. Volleyball was fun, but my heart is in basketball.” She also said that having Clonce at the same school will help her with the transition from high school to college.
“Her new teammates are excited about her coming her,” Mills said. “She’s going to get to play against the best.” That includes Ariel Nickell, a 5-9 forward who led the NAIA with a 26.4 points per game average. She was also second in the NAIA in rebounding at 12.7 per game, and was named the KIAC Women’s Player of the year, First Team All-Conference, First Team All-American by the USCAA, and third team NAIA All-American.
“Those two will help each other become better,” Mills said.
“I will have to work on my outside shot, the 15-footer,” Arthur said.