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Saunders signs with Valpo

Saunders signs with Valpo
Saunders signs with Valpo
North Harrison senior Ali Saunders is flanked by parents Scott and Paula Saunders, as well as North Harrison athletics personnel, as she signs her National Letter of Intent to play basketball at Valparaiso University on Nov. 10.

By Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]

North Harrison High School senior guard Ali Saunders signed her National Letter of Intent to continue her hoops career at Valparaiso University.
After Saunders’ junior year, when she averaged 21.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists and three steals and competed in Adidas AAU tournaments the following summer, college coaches approached her en masse in hopes of adding her to their squads.
“Recruiting was very heavy over the summer due to the Adidas tournaments my AAU team competed in,” Saunders said. “I’d have one or two coaches reach out per week in July up to my commitment. There were several colleges that reached out to me in the past few months that I would have considered if it weren’t for such a late start to the process.”
Saunders, the daughter of Scott and Paula Saunders, ultimately committed to the Crusaders due to a number of factors. Despite having to move to a university located about an hour away from Chicago, the Depauw resident notes the coaching staff, the Crusaders’ playing style and the university’s size and religious affiliation as primary influences in her decision after her official visit in late October.
“Valpo is such a good fit for me (because) the relationships I was able to build with the coaching staff,” she said. “The vision the coaching staff has for this team is something I couldn’t deny to be a part of. They collectively offer everything that I could possibly need to be successful at the next level.
“Besides the basketball part, the school itself is the perfect size I was looking for coming from a small high school in a small town,” Saunders added. “Valpo also has (Lutheran) affiliation, so that was another positive while I was trying to make a decision.”
While Saunders is currently playing out her senior year with the Lady Cats, rumors began to emerge that Saunders plans to graduate early and head to Valpo for the spring semester.
“Valpo had two girls come early last year, and they both said it worked in their favor,” Saunders said, confirming she will “redshirt” for the spring semester while practicing with the team and starting classes. “I am supposed to be on campus Dec. 28, but classes won’t start until Jan. 12. … I won’t play in games until my actual freshman year.”