Paris Wilkey, a rising senior at Lynn Classical, committed to join the women’s basketball team at Franklin Pierce last week.
By KATIE MORRISON
Lynn Classical star basketball player Paris Wilkey will have a lot on her mind next season.
She’s one of the leaders on a Rams squad that won 17 games last season, the highest total for Classical since the 2003-04 season, and hosted two state tournament games. On an individual level, Wilkey is 122 points away from scoring 1,000 for her career.
But one thing the junior won’t have to worry about is where she’ll be going to college.
Last week, Wilkey committed to play basketball at Franklin Pierce, a Division II school in Rindge, N.H., after her senior season at Classical, on a full basketball scholarship.
The choice was easy for Wilkey once she visited the campus and met with the team.
“(The school) is the perfect size, the people were so nice,” Wilkey said. “I felt confident and comfortable there.”
The Ravens will be looking for Wilkey to contribute right away. After a 3-23 campaign last season, Franklin Pierce has some rebuilding to do. That started with new head coach Jeanette Wedo, who will be entering her second season in the fall. Wedo spent time as an assistant coach at three different Division I schools prior to joining the Ravens. Wilkey says Wedo told her she’d be looking to her to step up and take on a big role on the team as a freshman.
“It’s nerve-wracking and exciting, all of the above,” Wilkey said. “To become a big part of the team, to step it up immediately, it’s a lot of pressure.”
But the Franklin Pierce team welcomed Wilkey with open arms. She met with the Ravens this spring, including former English star, Diondra Woumn. Wilkey said she knew Woumn, who will enter her senior year in the fall. The two won’t overlap on the team at Franklin Pierce, but Woumn still wanted to recruit the Classical standout.
“It was nice seeing (Woumn) up there, it gave me a little confidence,” Wilkey said, who added that members of the team reached out to her after she committed.
“They were texting me, snapping me, Instagram, everything,” Wilkey said.
The soon-to-be high school senior said she’s excited to see what college has in store.
“Being away from everybody (in Lynn), being away from family and friends, I’ll be able to focus a lot more on basketball,” Wilkey said. “I kind of need to be just me, myself and I, focus on playing.”
However, she said she’ll be making the hour-and-a-half trip to visit her family every week, “whether they like it or not!”
The school-life-sports balance at Franklin Pierce was something that was appealing to Wilkey, who plans to major in physical therapy. And of course, the full scholarship was a dream come true.
“Now my parents won’t have to pay anything,” Wilkey said. “That was really important to me. It’s always been one of my dreams to play college basketball, and for free, that’s great for me and my family.”
With her college choice already made, Wilkey can relax a bit on the court and turn her focus to just improving her game.
“During AAU, it’s not as nerve-wracking with recruits on the sidelines,” she said. “I can focus on how I’m playing, and that definitely makes it easier to play well.”
And when December rolls around, the focus will be firmly on bringing a ring to Classical.
“It’s all about us getting better as a team,” Wilkey said. “We made it pretty far last year, but we went to make it farther and win a ring. If 1,000 points comes along the way, that’s great, but I want us to break our own record. I want our team to be remembered.”