Friday, May 7, 2010

Farewell, Kristen Phillips

The Richmond Spiders made it official Friday - the injury-plagued college basketball career of Kristen Phillips is over.

Phillips, a 6-5 center from Greensboro, was a Top-20 recruit and signed with UConn - spurning offers from Tennessee, Texas, Maryland, Georgia and UCLA - as part of the nation's No. 1 recruiting class of 2006. But her career never got untracked in Storrs. A stress fracture in her right foot suffered when Phillips was in high school limited her participation in summer workouts prior to her freshman year and throughout her first semester. Huskies coach Geno Auriemma openly questioned Phillips' commitment. And after appearing in just two games - four minutes total - Phillips left the team after that first semester.

Upon transferring to Richmond, injuries continued to bedevil Phillips, who appeared in just six games in 2008-09 and sat out the entire 2009-10 season after having foot surgery. Last November, when Richmond visited Storrs for the WBCA Classic tournament, Spiders coach Michael Shafer acknowledged to the New Haven Register's Jim Fuller that Phillips' playing days were all but over.

"Obviously you have a 6-5 kid, you hope for best and with our (lack of) size but that's the reality of it," Shafer said. "Honestly just getting her surgery so she can walk and move on with her life was something that was important. She is doing pretty well. I think she understands that getting her degree and moving on, we have find of talked to her and moved her past basketball and see what we can do to further her career after graduation."

Ironically, Phillips was the second player to commit to UConn as part of the 2006-07 class. The first was a California kid named Jackie Gemelos who like Phillips has seen a high school injury sabotage her college career. How good was Gemelos? Check out this 2006 high school All-America team. The first teamers were Epiphanny Prince, Maya Moore, Tina Charles and Elena Delle Donne. The Player of the Year? Gemelos.

A few months before signing, however, Gemelos decommited from UConn and opted instead for USC. Then late in her senior high school season, Gemelos suffered a torn ACL. Four years and four surgeries later, Gemelos appeared in her first collegiate game last February.

The sagas of Gemelos and Phillips are two more painful reminders that while being a college basketball star is definitely a dream worth pursuing, keep in mind that unfortunately, dreams don't always come true.

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