Hometown Hero - Augustus picks LSU

A marching band, balloons and hundreds of students and faculty filled the courtyard at Capitol High School in Baton Rouge on Tuesday for the birthday of senior Seimone Augustus.<br><br> But instead of accepting gifts, the nation's top basketball recruit gave a huge present to LSU fans in the form of her commitment to the Lady Tigers.

Augustus signed a national letter of intent to attend LSU, choosing the hometown school over Tennessee and Duke. Her commitment ends an extended recruitment that began when LSU assistant Dana "Pokey" Chatman saw her playing with an AAU team in New Orleans as a fourth grader.


Since then, Augustus has gone on to become the driving force of a Capitol High team that has won back-to-back state championships in Class 4A the last two years. The Lady Lions finished the 2001-02 season with a 35-0 record and currently own a winning streak of 52 games.


In her senior campaign, Augustus averaged 28 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and five steals per game to earn recognition as a McDonald's and Parade All-American. She participated in the McDonald's All-Star game and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-Star game, and was named most valuable player for the WBCA event.


Other honors for Augustus include being picked Louisiana's Class 4A Player of the Year for the last four years. Street and Smith and USA Today have made her an All-American the last three seasons.


"For where we are right now, to add a player of Seimone's magnitude to go along with the cast of players we have returning, it makes a huge statement as to where women's basketball at LSU is going," LSU head coach Sue Gunter said. "When you have the options and the considerations that she had, for her to choose us speaks volumes for our university and the state of the women's basketball program at LSU.


"There is no question that her basketball ability is not overrated. She's one of those players that come along once in a coach's career. This is an outstanding day for us as a program, the Augustus family and all of her fans because she has had a tremendous following at Capitol over the last four year's and now they'll be able to watch her here at LSU."


Augustus said a large factor in her decision to attend LSU was that the school offered the exact field of study she wants to pursue – fashion design and merchandising.


She will join an LSU team that returns its entire roster from last season. The Lady Tigers finished their campaign at 18-12 after advancing to second round of the NCAA Tournament and received a No. 22 ranking in the final Associated Press poll. For a considerable portion of the 2001-02 season, the Lady Tigers were forced to play with as few as seven players dressed out due to injuries.


"I feel that I'm going to fit in perfectly," Augustus said. "They're a group of girls that's very determined and wants to win. That's who I am - I'm ready to win and willing to go on further."


Although LSU returns all five starters and will have all of its ailing players back healthy next season, there is a good chance Augustus will contribute at the small forward position.


According to Augustus' father Seymore, he and his wife, Kim, didn't learn of Seimone's decision until a couple of hours before her announcement. He said the choice came down to LSU and Tennessee, and Seimone phoned Lady Vols head coach Pat Summitt to inform her of her decision. Although she said she was hoping to get the coach's voice mail, Augustus said she spoke with Summitt who respected her decision and offered her support.


Augustus was the fourth player from the state championship Capitol squad to commit to play college basketball, and all will continue their academic and athletic careers in Louisiana. Twins Adrian and Ashley Blake have signed with Southern, and Clara Robinson will play for Xavier.


Capitol High head coach Alvin Stewart feels Augustus' unselfish nature will suit her well at LSU where she will play with and depend on other talented players. He recalls her experience as a high school freshman, joining a team that was loaded with veterans at the time.


"Seimone was very, very talented when she got here, but she blended in well with the other girls," said Stewart. "The fact that we had some seniors here when she was a freshman helped her."


Augustus took the national stage shortly after making a splash on the high school level, earning a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated for Women at age 14. She eventually earned feature coverage in ESPN: The Magazine and Slam, a publication devoted to the NBA. 


"You look at her, you don't see any weaknesses," said Gunter. "Passing, shooting, ball handling, putting the ball on the floor, rebounding, defending, blocking shots, she can do it all. She's just a very highly skilled young woman. She's going to be fun to watch and she's going to blend in great with the players that we already have on the team."


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