Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ODU's Guilford moving over to Hampton

Old Dominion's loss is Hampton's gain.

That's the way the three-time defending MEAC champion Lady Pirates are looking at the arrival of JoNiquia Guilford, who will transfer from ODU - with degree in hand - and take her talents to the other side of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.

"We're going to try to make it four in a row," said Guilford, who will graduate from Old Dominion on May 7 after majoring in criminal justice with a minor in sports management. "I think (Hampton) Coach (David) Six is a great coach and I'm excited about playing for him."

How Guilford became available to Hampton isn't totally clear. Guilford and her former high school coach, Roger Smith are adamant that she was released from her ODU scholarship against her wishes; Lady Monarchs coach Karen Barefoot told a local newspaper she merely relayed that she couldn't promise Guilford would retain her starter's role next season and that it was the player's decision to move on.

What is clear is that this was one of the many awkward postseason player-coach meetings that happen at programs throughout the country, particularly after a new coach's first season. Barefoot is coming off an 11-win campaign and is working under a return-to-the-Top-25 mandate from her athletic director. While Guilford started 28 games last season, she never seemed like an ideal fit for the playing style Barefoot is trying to implement. While we can't say for sure whether Barefoot actually told Guilford she was pulling her scholarship, it does seem clear that at the very least, Guilford left that meeting feeling as though her contributions were no longer valued.

That won't be the case at Hampton, where Six is thrilled to get a player whose talents he has admired since the days when she was a star at Portsmouth's Wilson High and he was gameplanning to stop her as the coach of Hampton High.

"She was a handful then," Six said. "When (Smith) called over and asked can I use her, I said 'Absolutely.' "

Guilford was a scoring machine at Wilson, finishing with a school-record 2,350 points, but she struggled to get her offensive game on track at ODU. A 20-point explosion against George Mason offered a glimpse of her capabilities. But for the season she averaged just 6.6 points per game.

Both Guilford and Six expect her to pick up more of the scoring load at Hampton. And while how much that happens remains to be seen, there are several areas where Guilford's impact will be felt. For example, Hampton prides itself on defense; Guilford led ODU in steals.

Then there are the intangibles.

"In terms of experience, toughness and tremendous leadership, she'll definitely add to our team," Six said.

The leadership role is particularly key, as the Lady Pirates are losing five seniors from last season's championship team, including all-everything, never-left-the-floor point guard Jericka Jenkins. Six is assembling another interesting batch of incoming players. But you don't ordinarily find college graduates with three years of Division I playing experience on the recruiting trail.

Finally, Six heralded the arrival of Guilford, who will pursue her master's degree at Hampton, as a testament to the quality of program the MEAC school has developed.

"That a kid at her level would see Hampton as a viable option says a lot about where we are as a program and where we're going," Six said.

In other Hampton-related news, former Lady Pirates guard Chikilra Goodman has signed with Stony Brook. Goodman, whose mother, Tondalaya, set the Lady Pirates' all-time rebounding record, spent her freshman year at Hampton in 2010-11 after averaging more than 36 points per game at Bodine High in Philadelphia. Goodman played last season at Paris Junior College in Texas.

1 comment:

  1. For whatever reason, ODU didn't want her. This is such a great break for HU... Jo will fit in perfectly with the Lady Pirates. I actually saw her at several Lady Pirates games this past year. My wish just came true... huge smile...