Eight days ago the New York Times ran a story on Amherst College women's basketball, touting it as a Division III program with Division I ambition (article can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/12/sports/ncaabasketball/at-amherst-division-iii-team-with-no-1-ambition.html?_r=0). Around that same time, JJ Daniell (Hanover, NH) gave her verbal commitment to Coach Gromacki. Daniell will attend and play basketball at Amherst.
"From sophomore summer on, I knew that I wanted a high academic school in the northeast, so that really narrowed my focus" Daniell told the NH Notebook. "Most of my contact in junior year was with NESCAC, Ivy League, and Patriot League coaches. I kept in touch with these coaches through the year and AAU season with the Rivals, and did a lot of visits to help make my choice. After AAU I had several offers, and although the schools, programs, and coaches for each of these were amazing, I knew Amherst was the place for me after I did an overnight there in early September. I had already met the coaching staff a couple of times by then, but meeting the team really helped make the decision for me."
Amherst is located in Massachusetts and is a member of the NESCAC, which is a tremendous conference for both academics and basketball.
"Coach Gromacki has built an incredible team at Amherst, and I am so excited that I will have the opportunity to be a part of that" said Daniell, a 5-foot-8 wing. "Amherst seems like the perfect combination of intense academics and great basketball, which is exactly what I was looking for. I hope to study psychology or public policy at Amherst."
Last season as a junior, Daniell made the Division II all-state team and helped lead Hanover to the Final Four. This year she is a D-II Player of the Year candidate. She can shoot the basketball, slash to the rim, defend and rebound. She's a smart player who gives it her all every time out there. Daniell played AAU for the Rivals Basketball Club.
"I owe so much to Coach Hazelton and the whole Rivals program and to Coach O'Rourke and all the other coaches who have helped me through this process and have helped me develop as a player" mentioned Daniell.
Daniell is the second Hanover player in as many years to commit to a NESCAC school for women's basketball, with the other being Eileen Daly - a freshman guard for Middlebury.
"JJ has contributed to our program in many ways - by her leadership, work ethic, motivation, dedication and volunteer efforts coaching the younger kids" said Dan O'Rourke, who has been Daniell's head coach at Hanover High for the past four years. "She's been a fantastic leader who is the most determined, intense, hardest working player that I've ever coached. JJ has put in the necessary time and effort to be an impact player at the next level. Over the past 20 years of coaching, I have witnessed a lot of great players. JJ is one of them and should be the Player of the Year in D-II this season. She deserves every award and accolade she gets because they are the result of her hard work, dedication and determination to improve as a basketball player. More important than the accolades, JJ is a phenomenal, well-rounded, intelligent young woman, who has been a pleasure to coach over the past four years. She is a coach's dream. She's intense, works hard and wants to improve every day, which is all you can ask from an athlete. She has left her mark on our program for the next generation of players to come, and she's someone who I will miss seeing run up and down the court."
This is a tremendous accomplishment for Daniell, as not many players from NH gain the opportunity to play for such a prestigious program.