Malo also considered TCU, Arizona, and Penn State. She becomes Vanderbilt's third commitment for 2005, joining guard Holly Rogers (5-9, Cleveland, Tenn.) and forward Christina Wirth (6-2, Chandler, Ariz.).
"I liked the community feel there," Malo said Tuesday. "It had the tight-knit feel that I like, and I had an overall good feeling about the people there."
Malo sat out her sophomore year of high school after reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL, but bounced back her junior year, averaging nearly a double-double with 12.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
But according to Fairmont head coach Patti Strukel, those numbers don't tell the whole story. When Malo was a freshman the team went 16-6; while she rehabbed her knee as a sophomore, the team fell to 7-14. Last year, with a healthy Malo, Fairmont finished 19-5.
Strukel says that Malo brings a lot to the team besides points and rebounds,. "She loves playing defense, whether it's zone or man," says Strukel. "She's very good in transition. She runs the floor very well." So well that, according to Strukel, coaches who watched her last season were unable to tell she had just come off a serious knee injury.
As a freshman Malo set the school record for blocks with 10 in a single game. Despite the fact that opponents became reluctant to try to shoot over her, Malo averaged 2.6 blocks per game her junior year. She also holds a school record with 20 rebounds in a game.
Still, Strukel said rebounding is an area in which Malo is likely to improve over the years. "She's still thinking about it, and as it becomes instinctive, she'll get better.
"As a coach, when you're talking to her, she looks at you and listens intently while you're talking. She wants to be challenged."