Byron’s big talent headed to Big Ten
Sometimes the more schools that offer scholarships to a student-athlete, the harder it can be for them to choose the right one, but that wasn’t the case for Byron’s 6’4” basketball star Sacia Vanderpool.
“After thinking about the connections and many visits to Wisconsin, it was a no brainer. I couldn’t find a reason not to go [there],” she said. “It has always been my dream school so the chance to get to play there is a dream come true.”
Not only is it her dream to play there, but she also loves the campus and feels like she’ll enjoy furthering her education there too.
“Wisconsin is the right school for me because I feel at home on campus and know that I will be comfortable attending college at Madison. I really like the coaches and believe that they can help me reach my full potential. I felt a connection with the campus and the basketball program.
One reason Vanderpool felt a connection with the campus is because she’s visited there so many times before.
“When I was younger, I visited campus many times because it was where my dad went to college, which has helped me become very comfortable on campus,” she said.
In addition to her dad, her family’s legacy at Wisconsin extends two generations further. On her dad's side of the family, her great-grandpa, grandparents, dad, and aunt all attended Wisconsin. Meanwhile, on her mom's side, her great-great-uncle was a professor at Wisconsin and is considered the father of satellite meteorology.
“It is definitely exciting that I’m continuing on my family’s legacy at Wisconsin,” she said. “It may be a factor, but it is not the only thing that made me choose Wisconsin.”
One such other thing that caused Vanderpool to choose Wisconsin was her comfort level with her future coaches.
“The part of their basketball program that appealed to me is their coaching staff because they all took the time to get to know me and I feel comfortable around them. I also really wanted to play in the Big Ten conference,” she said.
Her preference to play in Big Ten helped Wisconsin’s case as her two other scholarship offers from power five conferences came from LSU and Texas Tech who compete in the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12, respectively.
Outside of the power five schools, she also received scholarship offers from Virginia Commonwealth, North Dakota State, Northern Colorado, Southern Utah, California-Riverside and Ivy League member Penn.
“The virtual recruiting process was exciting, but also a little overwhelming. I had a few zoom calls for campus visits, but it was really difficult to get a feel for what the culture and people on campus would really be like. At Wisconsin, I know what it’s like on campus and I feel at home there,” Vanderpool said.
In addition to her comfort level with Wisconsin, she said the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented her from being able to visit other campuses, hurt her other suitors’ chances.
“At first, I was open to all parts of the country to play, but during this quarantine, I started to think more about how I wanted to stay closer to home and be around my sister, who’s going to be a junior at Madison,” she said. “It would also allow my family to easily come to a lot of games.”
When her family comes to watch her, she hopes they see her becoming a much improved player, teammate and person.
“I want to improve my game and reach my potential. Maybe even win a Big Ten championship,” she said. “Most importantly, I want to build strong relationships with my teammates and coaches and become the best player and person that I can.”
Her goals off the court are to study physical therapy or something sports-related.
However, before she heads to Madison, she has one more year to continue to grow as player and hopefully help her Byron team succeed.
“I want to improve my basketball skills and become more aggressive so I can help my team throughout the season,” she said. “I also want to continue to be a leader for my team and use everyone's strengths to become the best we can be. I would love for my team to make it to state again for my last year of high school basketball.”