Published: Jan 23, 2013 02:52 PM
Modified: Jan 23, 2013 02:53 PM
Zoe Vernon of Chapel Hill has been delighted with her college choice. But as a freshman on the women’s basketball team at Winthrop University, this has been a trying season.
Winthrop is located in Rock Hill, S.C., just south of Charlotte, and plays in the Division I Big South Conference. Vernon is glad to be fairly close to home after considering Ivy League schools such as Harvard while at Carolina Friends High School.
“This is the only place I made an official visit,” said Vernon, who also considered UNC-Asheville and UNC-Greensboro. “When I came here, I felt like it was the right place.”
But in her first college game on Dec. 8 against St. Augustine’s, she re-injured her knee after playing just three minutes in that game. Vernon, a 6-foot-1 reserve player, had surgery in late December and will miss the rest of the season as a medical redshirt.
“The next day it was swelling. I knew something was wrong, but not that wrong,” she said.
The surgery in late December took place at the Duke Sports Medicine Center under the direction of Dr. Dean C. Taylor.
She had injured the same right knee in May and had to join the team for workouts after the start of practice last fall. Now she hopes to be ready in time for the 2013-14 season.
“We are looking for Zoe to make the transition to the perimeter,” said Kevin Cook, the Winthrop head coach. “She will be able to do that very well. We want her to get 100 percent. She is a very determined young woman. We are really, really excited about her future. She has had some tough breaks here early. She is the type of person who has bounced back.”
Vernon, who turns 19 on March 29, is the daughter of David Vernon and Jane Satter and plans to study biology or chemistry.
At Carolina Friends Vernon was the 2011 Conference Player of the Year and an all-state pick. She averaged 25 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks per game.
Vernon said she will attend home and away games the rest of the season and also be at practice while doing her rehab.
“At this point there is not much I can do,” she said Jan. 14. “I can do leg raises and work on (leg) bends. I have to try and get the swelling off of it until I can get serious. I think the goal is be back in time for practice at the start of next season.
“You want to make sure you don’t get frustrated with it. It is a long process. That is difficult to make myself do,” she added.
At least two of her former high school teammates are with college basketball teams. Anna McClain of Durham is a freshman guard at Division III St. Mary’s of Maryland and averaged 9.6 minutes and 1.5 points in her first 11 games off the bench. Jamilah Watson is a freshman forward at Queen’s University of Charlotte and averaged 3.3 minutes in her first seven games as a sub.
Winthrop was 11-8 overall and 5-2 in the Big South after a 70-58 win Saturday against Presbyterian, the Eagles’ fourth straight victory.
First-year coach, Cook, is a former assistant for the Eagles and was once a member of the staff of the Houston Comets of the WNBA. He was also the former head coach of Division III Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.
“I knew we had a chance of being good and winning a lot. I wanted to be able to win,” Vernon said of picking a college. “Some of the other schools did not have the best record in the past.”
Vernon visited Harvard and attended a basketball camp at Penn State while in high school. But she opted to head south for college and not north to the Ivy League.
“I like the weather here,” she said, with a laugh.