Techsters Ink Junior College Center
Updated Apr 20, 2004 15:37:03
RUSTON - On the eve of the 2004 WNBA Draft, Louisiana Tech signed the first piece of a post puzzle that will try to replace a pair of potential picks in tomorrow's draft as head coach Kurt Budke inked 6-foot-7-inch Margaret DeCiman from Seward County Community College.
DeCiman, who hopes to step in and help fill the void left by the graduation of Trina Frierson and Amisha Carter, signed with Tech after helping lead head coach Jim Littell and Seward County to a 32-5 record, a No. 4 national ranking and a quarterfinal appearance in the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament.
"There are very few players in America that can change a game like Margaret can," Budke said. "Leon (Barmore) always told me to find players that can do things in 10. This is a person that could average 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks. I saw her play a number of times and totally take opposing post players out of the game with her size. This is a great signing for us, especially with the two people we are losing inside. She is a difference maker."
The West Africa native averaged 9.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game this past year while shooting 51 percent from the field and 73 percent from the free throw line.
"I think Margaret's best basketball is still ahead of her," Littell said. "She has come so far in her two years here, and I know that she will continue to grow as a player and a person (at Louisiana Tech). Her upside is tremendous. There were a lot of times this year, especially in the second half of the season, where she was dominating. She scored 23 points and had 15 blocked shots in the finals of our regional tournament and altered eight more shots. Right now her best attribute is her ability to take the paint away."
Michael White of the All-Star Girls Report ranked DeCiman as the fourth best junior college center in the country. The daughter of Ring and Muna DeCiman said she is happy with her decision to sign with the Ruston, La.,-based program.
"I'm very excited about signing with Louisiana Tech," DeCiman said. "One of the main reasons I chose Tech was that I trust Coach Littell with my life and he told me that Tech was the place for me. When I visited (the school), I just fell in love with the people and got along so well with everyone. I couldn't see myself going anywhere else."
After being born in Drogheda, Ireland, in 1984, DeCiman moved to Liberia, West Africa, at age three and then to Ghana, West Africa at age six. After four years in Ghana, DeCiman moved to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada with her parents where she lettered at Miller High School for three years. Prior to her senior year in high school, DeCiman's parents sent her to Mt. Chantal Visitation Academy in Wheeling, West Virginia, where she led Coach John Rowan and Co. to a 20-1 record.
DeCiman is built much like her wiry 7-foot-7 uncle Manute Bol who was drafted by the Washington Bullets in 1985 and played in the NBA for 11 seasons, and she hopes to have a similar impact on opposing teams. Bol led the NBA in blocked shots as a rookie for the Washington Bullets in 1985, averaging 4.96 per contest.
However, DeCiman knows she has some work to do before the start of Louisiana Tech's 2004-05 season if she wants to make the transition to the next level.
"This summer I know that I have to work on getting bigger, stronger and tougher," DeCiman said. "I have to outwork (the people I'll be playing against next year) if I want to be successful. I'm willing to outwork them and do whatever it takes to succeed."
DeCiman, who will be the tallest player to ever don a Lady Techster uniform surpassing both Elinor Griffin and Janice Mulford who were 6-5, will join returning post players Tiffany Thompson, Tamika Kursh and Tia Moore in trying to fill the void left by Frierson and Carter, who combined to average 33.1 points and 17.6 rebounds per game this past season.
"The people in Ruston will fall in love with this kid," Littell said. "She is a jewel. She is a better person than she is a player and she will be sorely missed (at Seward County). She brings the type of attitude and positive approach that is infectious."
DeCiman joins Midland Junior College guard Tosha Christmas who signed with the Lady Techsters during the early period in November.
Budke said Louisiana Tech is still in the process of recruiting both on the junior college and high school level and that the Lady Techsters could still sign as many as two more players during the late period.