By Chad Courrier
The Free Press
Just about every coach of a major college program has seen Carlie Wagner play basketball.
And several prominent universities have hotly recruited the New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva junior, even offering a scholarship.
But in the end, she really didn't want to go too far from home so she has made a verbal commitment to play at the University of Minnesota.
"This is my home state, and I love the facilities, the campus, the coaches," she said. "I really liked it when I visited up there."
Wagner, who has 2,321 career points, is averaging 32.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 4.7 steals this season, shooting 62.1 percent from the field, with 53 3-pointers, and 68.0 percent at the free-throw line. She set a school-record with 50 points in a game against Southland on Dec. 18.
Wagner, a 5-foot-10 point guard, burst onto the national scene at the state tournament last spring, setting a single-game record of 48 points and tournament record of 112 points in three games. She also outplayed Braham's Rebekah Dahlman, the state's all-time leading scorer, in a quarterfinal game that opened some eyes.
NRHEG coach John Schultz has watched Wagner play for several years, and he's seen her develop into a Division I player that could have gone to almost any program in the country.
"Minnesota is where she wants to go," Schultz said. "It's the best opportunity for her and her family. She might have a chance to play right away. It's great for her."
At the end, Kansas State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Wisconsin-Green Bay each offered a scholarship, though it was tough to turn down Maryland and Iowa State. Wagner could have waited until the fall or next spring to sign her letter of intent, but she had a chance to end the flow of emails and letters from prospective universities and focus on her last two seasons at NRHEG. The Panthers are 18-1 and favorites to earn another berth to the state tournament out of Section 2AA.
"I was just kind of waiting for the moment when it felt right," Wagner said. "That's when I decided.
"I'm excited, and I can't wait to play college basketball. High-school basketball is a lot of fun, but I really want to experience the college game."