Sunday, August 14, 2011

Blais Commits to Marist


The commitments continue to come in for the Class of 2012, and this is yet another class loaded with girls basketball talent. Madeline Blais (Exeter, NH) has verbally committed to play her college basketball at Marist University, a Division I school in New York.

Blais played at Exeter High School for three years before transferring to the New Hampton School last year and reclassifying to the Class of 2012. She will be a senior at New Hampton this fall before taking her game to Marist in 2012.

Blais is a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses. She's 6'0" and is a lights out shooter from anywhere within 22 feet of the basket. She also has the ability to take her defender off the dribble and go to the rim. Blais also has good quickness, a strong, athletic frame and has a competitive fire and drive to win. Anybody who has seen her play over the last couple years could tell she was going to be a Division I player, with her size and skill set. It was just a matter of which school she would go to.

"Maddy is a great all around player who has the ability to play multiple positions" said Scott Hazelton, Blais' AAU coach for the last two years with the NH Rivals. "Her ability to shoot the ball is as good as any player around. She has come a long way in her development as a player. Early in her high school career she was manly used as 4 or 5, but over the years through a lot of hard work she's transformed her game towards being a guard. It's been a pleasure to coach her over the past two years and to see her progress into a scholarship level player."

Marist is a mid-major D-I program that competes in the highly competitive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). They are a very good program, and just a few months ago in March they took on Duke University in the second round of the NCAA tournament and only lost 71-66. Included in the Red Foxes' 2011 recruiting class is Natalie Gomez, a 5'6" point guard from Andover, MA who is the best player in Massachusetts for the Class of 2011. Marist already had a winning program, and with Gomez and Blais will certainly help that success to continue.

"Marist is a great spot for Maddy" Hazelton continued. "They have a phenomenal coaching staff and her style of play is conducive to how they play. I think she will have a great career there."


Interview with Madeline Blais

Jeremy Leveille: What other schools were you considering, and what made you choose Marist?
Madeline Blais: The schools I felt the closest to during the recruiting process would have to have been Marist, UNC Greensboro, URI, Vermont, Rice, Furman, and Providence. Though it really came down to UNCG and Marist in the end. The decision was tough from the start because I had no idea what I was looking for in a college and basketball program... and it took a bit of time to figure out what that was too. I wrote down a list of things that were important to me and saw which schools agreed with what.
A. I wanted to be close to home so my father could watch some games and I could come home during the holidays.
B. I also wanted to go to a winning program, I've won all my life and I would hate to go somewhere and face disappointment every night. Not to mention that Marist plays in the NCAA tournament every year, and I want a post season!
C. I also wanted to actually play. Like most division one athletes, I was used to playing. I wouldn't like the experience of playing on a college team if I was riding the bench the whole time. I know I fit in the Giorgis' system so I'll hopefully make a quick impact.
D. Lastly, I wanted a great coach. Coach Giorgis is known for his ability to coach and considering one day I'd like to be a coach myself, why not be coached by the best.

JL: How do you see yourself fitting in with the team at Marist?
MB: I've only gotten to meet the team once but I knew instantly they were the type of girls I want to play with. I fit the system at Marist, so I'll mold with the team well. Also, the upcoming freshman Natalie Gomez and I have been talking back and forth and it seems like I'll have a good friend going in to it!

JL: At what point in your development as a player did you become a guard?
MB: I was a center my entire life until after my junior year in highschool when I met Scott Hazelton. I'd always wanted to play a guard but was stuck in the post because of my height. I love the Rivals because Scott teaches you to play the position you'd excel in the most, which in my case was a 3 guard. We do dribbling drills everyday and work on our skill set, so by the end of the season I improved immensely. I think I've transitioned well into a guard offensively, but still need to work up my speed on the defensive end.

JL: What coaches helped you develop as a player and how?
MB: Considering I play basketball so much, I've had a lot of coaches teach me the game. In my opinion, the more coaches you've played under, the better. I played with the Exeter Hawks AAU team for five years under David Hartnett and William Mutch. This was my first experience of hardcore basketball. We were a local team of best buds and had a lot of fun in the process. We ended up surprising most of our competition too! I'd like to think those two coaches taught me everything they could not only on the court, but off of it too. I can't thank them enough. Even today I don't think they realize how strongly they have impacted me. I used to nickname them "Dad" because that's what I considered both of them, and still do.

Integrity Hoops run by Noah Laroche also impacted the type of player I am today. I really love the clinics Noah runs - they're fun, but full of skill work and hard competition. Mostly boys attended these clinics which amped the competition even more. I only did Integrity Hoops for a couple years but wish I had done it much longer. Noah Laroche is great role model.

Scott Hazelton, the coach of the Rival's top 16 and 15 team, has made the biggest impact on my basketball career though. I played under Scott for two seasons, and he really opened my eyes to the type of player I need to be to succeed. He taught us all a tough mindset to play with and to get in the gym and practice practice practice. He instilled a sense of pride in our game, one that has changed my game forever. He's also taken us all around the country, bringing us to the most competitive tournaments available. The Rivals program has allowed me to step my game up incredibly these past two years. I can't thank Scott enough for everything he's done for my teammates and particularly me, I really do owe a lot of my success to him, I wouldn't have gotten Marist without him.

JL: How did the move to prep school, and playing with the Rivals help your recruitment?
MB: Moving to prep school was a blessing. I can't stress enough how much that helped me develop into the player I wanted to be. I moved there to better my newly found guard skills, gain another year of recruitment, and also to simply avoid college just one more year. Prep school isn't for everyone, but I needed that extra year to think colleges through and make the right decision in the end. It ended up being the best thing I've ever done, and given me a taste of the college atmosphere as well.

The Rivals, as I mentioned before, was a huge step in my recruiting. You can't be seen by coaches unless you play in front of them. Our program went to several* showcases and tournaments every summer and spring that allowed us to play infront of the best schools in the country. Also, the Rivals challenges you to become better than you already are, because you are playing with great talent around you. On the team I played on, almost our whole team is scholarship players. To anyone considering the Rivals, GO THERE! Our teams are full of scholarship players that otherwise.. might not have been.

JL: What do you plan on studying at Marist?
MB: I have no idea what I'm going to study at Marist, though I know I'm interested in math and design. Eventually, I hope to play overseas and coach after that though.


Congrats to Maddie, and best of luck at Marist!

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