York High graduate Aignee Freeland proved right away she could more than hold her own on the NCAA Division II hardwood at Edinboro University.
In the school's first game of the season, Freeland came off the bench and totaled 10 points in just nine minutes of action.
The next game, the 6-foot, 3-inch freshman forward pulled down 10 rebounds off the bench.
The impressive performances soon helped Freeland earn a spot in the starting lineup. In just her second start of her college career, Freeland pumped in a career-high 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting (both career-highs) in a 19-point win over California University of Pennsylvania.
"It was really exciting," Freeland said of the performance when chatting by phone Tuesday afternoon. "I don't know. I just put my game out there. I was so scared when I first started but that second start I just really played loose."
Since then, she's taken Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Freshman of the Week honors four times. The most recent came last week after she gathered a career-high 18 rebounds in a 69-61 win over Lock Haven last Saturday. Although she went scoreless in Edinboro's 71-62 loss to Gannon on Wednesday night, Freeland is still averaging 7.7 points and 7.9 rebounds in 22 games this season (17 starts).
The efforts have helped Edinboro, ranked No. 21 in the latest USA Today Coaches' NCAA Division II poll, compile a 17-5 overall record. With a 14-4 conference record, the Fighting Scots currently sit two games back of No. 10 Gannon (16-2 PSAC, 22-3 overall) for first place in the PSAC West Division.
Despite Wednesday's loss, Edinboro still has a good shot at winning the program's third-straight PSAC Tournament title and make it into the NCAA D-II tournament for the third year in a row.
Change of scenery: It's quite a different experience for Freeland. In her four years at York High, Freeland and the Bearcats went a combined 9-75 overall (2-58 York-Adams League).
"I went from being used to losing to now being used to winning. I just want to win all the time now," she said. "It's motivated me to help my team."
Freeland averaged 10.2 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks per game in her senior season at York High. She said that drew the interest of PSAC schools Edinboro, Millersville and West Chester. She ultimately chose the school farthest from home. Located just miles from Lake Erie, Edinboro is nearly a six-hour drive from York City.
"When I came up here I actually just felt like I fit into the program," Freeland said. "They made me feel at home. Plus, I like being away. It helps me focus a lot better."
Freeland still keeps in touch with her family. Her older brother, former York High football and basketball standout Malik Generett, stopped by one of her games a couple weeks ago. Generett, who formerly played football at UConn, has one year of football eligibility remaining at Tennessee-Martin.
Moving forward: Freeland had a pretty good idea she would see playing time almost immediately at Edinboro since she and 6-foot-3 senior center Samantha Blazetic are the tallest players on the Scots' roster.
Freeland is still learning a lot from Blazetic, one of two returning Edinboro starters. But one thing is for sure -- Freeland is no longer scared on the college hardwood.
"I kind of shocked myself in the first game (off the bench)," she said. "Now I'm just expecting it (to play well)."
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.