Tayler Goodall and some of her Columbus North girls basketball teammates are in Florida this week, but they’re doing more than vacationing.
Goodall visited Florida Gulf Coast University’s practice Tuesday. After it was over, she gave an verbal commitment to Eagles coach Karl Smesko.
“After their practice, he took me into his office, and he asked me if I had any questions,” Goodall said. “Then, I brought up the part about committing to him, and he seemed surprised and excited all at the same time.”
Goodall, a junior, can sign a national letter-of-intent in November.
NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from talking about a prospect until they are signed.
This season, Goodall averaged 13.8 points and led the Bull Dogs with per-game averages of 6.2 rebounds and 3.4 steals in helping lead the team to a 25-1 record, Conference Indiana and sectional titles, and a No. 1 state ranking. Her 89 steals and 42 3-pointers rank third on the school’s single-season lists, and she tied single-game records with 10 steals against Columbus East and six 3-pointers against Roncalli.
Earlier this month, Goodall was named to the Core Six of the 2013 Indiana Junior All-Stars.
“We’re really thrilled for Tayler,” North coach Pat McKee said. “It’s a great opportunity. This is a really strong mid-major program that is relatively new to Division I, but they’ve had great success since they’ve been at that level.”
Florida Gulf Coast, in Fort Myers, Fla., has won the Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season title four of the five years it has been Division I. The Eagles went 27-6 this season, including 18-0 in the Atlantic Sun, but lost to Stetson in the conference tournament final and will open play in the Postseason WNIT tonight.
“They have something special down there that I want to be a part of,” Goodall said. “They work really hard, and I’m a hard worker, and I want to be around a group of girls that work hard, as well.”
FGCU has an Indiana flavor with three native Hoosiers on the roster, including freshman Amanda Moore from Seymour. Smesko is a former IPFW coach, and assistant Abby Scharlow is a New Albany graduate.
Goodall talked with Bethany Murrell, an Eagles freshman from New Palestine, before picking FGCU over Ball State.
“It kind of came down between Ball State and Florida Gulf Coast, as well, and she talked to me about her decision and her experiences,” Goodall said. “It was a really tough decision.”
Along with Ball State, Goodall was considering Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Illinois State. Bowling Green and Miami (Ohio) also offered scholarships. Other programs showing interest included Butler, Delaware, Evansville, Florida Atlantic, Indiana, Indiana State, IUPUI, Missouri State, St. Bonaventure, Stetson and Western Kentucky.
Goodall is undecided on a major but is leaning toward nursing.
While North is on spring break this week and next, Goodall is vacationing in Florida with senior Hanna Ballard. Sophomore Jessica Wagers also is in Florida this week and accompanied them on their recent visit to FGCU.
“The weather is great,” Goodall said. “The campus is really pretty. It’s just a bonus to the academic and the athletic part.”