On Monday night, George Washington’s Kalissa Lacy signed her national letter of intent to play basketball at Morehead State in a ceremony held not in her high school gymnasium surrounded by her classmates, but at the Holiday Inn & Suites in South Charleston with a small group of mask-wearing friends and family.
For a member of a 2021 class, which has had nearly everything turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past eight months, it was nothing new.
Lacy wasn’t afforded the opportunity to take a single official visit to a Division I campus but decided on the Eagles anyway, citing several reasons for her choice.
“The biggest thing was the family atmosphere,” Lacy said. “I didn’t get to take an official visit, which I’d liked to, because of COVID. I went on campus and the coaches Facetimed me. But before I committed the coaches would call and text and check up on me like I was already committed, and the [players on the team] have reached out and I’ve been talking to them too.”
“Anytime a kid goes D-I it’s obviously a feather in the cap of the program and the kids that played with her, especially for her to move forward and have her education paid for,” GW coach Jamie LaMaster added. “Morehead is a good fit for her and she has an opportunity to go and have an immediate impact. She seems really comfortable, and if she’s comfortable, we’re comfortable.”
It brought to an end a difficult recruiting process felt by Lacy and all players of her age around the country.
“Usually the summer of your junior year in AAU is the biggest one and there are 20 or 30 coaches at every single game, but this year, there were zero,” Lacy said. “They had to watch via live stream and you never know how a live stream is going to turn out.”
For those who have had the opportunity to watch Lacy at GW in the past three years, it’s pretty apparent what Morehead State is getting — a four-sport athlete with a 4.0-plus GPA and a player who is already the most decorated girls basketball player in GW history with a senior season — albeit now shortened — likely still ahead of her.
“When she first came into high school there was some coverage and someone asked me about her coming in and said, ‘What do you think?’” LaMaster recalled. “I said, ‘I’ve seen her play in middle school, my main question is how is she going to adjust to the high school game.’ To say the least, she answered that question real quick.”
In three years, Lacy has two Class AAA first-team All-State selections to go with a second-team nod in her freshman season. She’s led the Mountain State Athletic Conference in scoring twice and was the Kanawha Valley player of the year as well as the Mary Ostrowski Award winner as the state’s player of the year last season.
Lacy has scored 1,446 points through three seasons, putting herself within shouting distance of Brittany Holestine’s school record of 1,820.
And that’s just Lacy’s basketball career. Along the way she was part of a state championship in swimming a year ago, has made three straight trips to the soccer state tournament and two trips to the softball state tournament, with that season being wiped out in the spring.
Lacy said she plans to swim this winter and play softball in the spring for GW, if those sports are played as scheduled. Gov. Jim Justice recently announced a delay to the start of all winter sports until Jan. 11.
As much as adjusting to college life will present unique challenges and experiences, Lacy said putting her multi-sport days behind her will also be an adjustment.
“I’ve definitely thought about that a lot,” Lacy said. “A lot of people have asked me about focusing on one thing and my answer to that would be to keep doing the same training I do right now. Keep my soccer training by running sprints to stay in shape with injuries, and if I can find a pool down there, maybe even get some pool workouts in.”
As for basketball season, Lacy waits on pins and needles along with 2021 players all over the state as the future of this season remains out of their hands. The Patriots made a state tournament appearance in Lacy’s freshman year but have come up empty in getting back in each of the last two seasons, leaving plenty of unfinished business for GW’s class of five seniors.
But after news of the season’s delay was released, Lacy did what she’s done throughout her prep career — she went back to work.
“I was pretty devastated, but keeping on the bright side of things, my team is going to keep going and we’re going to work just as hard,” Lacy said. “Hopefully we can meet individually without coaches there and get some work in. All we can do is do our best to stay in shape and stay ready.”