05/03/05 — N. Johnston's McFadden joining MOC backcourt

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N. Johnston's McFadden joining MOC backcourt

By Neil Fuller
Published in Sports on May 3, 2005 2:17 PM

KENLY -- The culmination of a freshman dream.

The reward for four years of sweat and dedication.

North Johnston guard Lakisha McFadden moved one step closer to her childhood dream of playing professional basketball Monday afternoon, signing to play at Mount Olive College.

The 5-foot-x McFadden chose Mount Olive over Peace College and UNC-Pembroke. She is undecided on a major.

"I want to play in college, but I also want to play professional basketball," McFadden said after agreeing to an athletics scholarship worth $27,050. "It's always been a dream. Since the first day the WNBA got started, it's been a dream of mine."

Lady Panthers coach David Bagwell was quick to point out how early on that dream became evident.

"We talked about it when she was a ninth-grader," Bagwell said. "We talked about what she had to do to make her dream happen."

Winning -- along with a healthy respect for the school's weight room -- helped.

McFadden helped lead North Johnston to a 44-14 record over the past two seasons and a share of the 2004-05 Class 1-A Carolina Conference regular-season championship.

That kind of success has eluded Mount Olive -- but McFadden, who averaged 10 points per game last season, believes brighter days are ahead for her new program.

After jumping out to a x-x start last season and earning a spot (No. x) in the NCAA Division II East Region poll, the Trojans faltered to a 12-16 finish. Mount Olive was 9-11 against Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference competition.

"I don't really expect a tough transition," McFadden said. "If I were to go to another school, I'd just be a number. Mount Olive is smaller, and I see us getting better as time moves on."

McFadden could see some significant playing time in the Mount Olive backcourt with another talented underclassman, point guard Keona Corley.

Corley dished out a team-high 101 assists during her freshman campaign.

"Keona is a quick, exciting player," McFadden said. "I'm looking forward to being able to play with her."

But this was McFadden's day -- an obvious fact to those in the North Johnston community.

"This day is about Lakisha McFadden," North Johnston athletics director Brent Walston told reporters gathered for the signing. "We're very happy and fortunate here at North Johnston to have had Lakisha play for us and now we watch her move on to the next level."

If dreams really do come true, Mount Olive coach Wendy Lawrence might just be giving the same speech four years into the future.