Lauren Lueders commits to Vandy

Lauren Lueders, a 5'8 guard from Jackson, Missouri, announced on Wednesday that she has given a verbal commitment to attend Vanderbilt. The rising senior at Saxony Lutheran High School will become a Commodore in the fall of 2006.

"When I visited the campus, I just fell in love with it, and I really felt at home with the players and coaches," Lueders said in a press release. "I am going there to earn a degree from one of the best universities and to compete for a national championship. It is a dream come true."

Over the past three years, Lueders has averaged ten points and six assists per game as a member of the boys basketball team. Saxony Lutheran doesn't yet have a girls basketball team, so when Lueders chose to attend the small private high school, the only way for her to continue playing basketball was to play with - and against - the boys.

As a freshman she played on the junior varsity and has been a starter on the varsity team for the past two seasons. During that time, her teams have compiled a 54-18 record.

"She's a very athletic, quick, strong guard who can play both the point guard and shooting guard," John Daniel, her coach at Saxony, told VandyMania. "She's accustomed to guarding boys much bigger than her, and she's not afraid to get physical on the block when she needs to."

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Lueders (pronounced "Leaders") is also a sharp-shooter, averaging 41% from 3-point range and 81% from the free throw line over the course of her high school career.

Lueders' decision to attend a small private high school with no girls basketball team meant that her path to a college basketball scholarship would necessarily be unconventional.

While Lueders has received considerable local media coverage because she's playing with and against boys, coaches from the top women's college basketball programs wouldn't ordinarily be watching boys games.

That's where Daniel came in. "When she decided to come, I told her I'd help her," he told VandyMania.

And he had the experience to do it. Before going to Saxony, he had been an assistant men's basketball coach at Washington University in St,. Louis for several years and also an assistant for a year at the D1 level at Southeast Missouri State.

And as a Harvard graduate, he appreciated the benefits that a college like Vanderbilt can offer.

So after Lueder's freshman year, Daniel put together a tape and sent it Vanderbilt - and to Vanderbilt only. The following year, after her sophomore season, Lueders played with an AAU team so she could be seen by other coaches and was recruited by more than 40 college programs.

But in the end, her search for a college ended where it began - with Vanderbilt.

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