Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk is sending his first player to California. Sophomore guard/forward Hannah Thurmon signed Monday to play for the University of California, Riverside. “It feels pretty crazy. Exciting and nerve-racking at the same time to go off away from everyone, but I’m so excited to see where it takes me and what I can do,” said Thurmon, who plans to study business. “It’s just in my heart what I want to do. I know that it’s the right choice.”
The Dexter alumna first caught the attention of a then NJCAA coach at the national tournament last year, and the coach kept in contact after taking a job with UC Riverside. Thurmon said she was initially hesitant about moving to California and being so far away from family. But then decided to look into it and move forward from there. “It just hit me. It was in my gut,” Thurmon said. “I just felt like I would rather do it now instead of taking the chance of getting hurt and then no one. There’s all those little ‘what if’ things, but I just knew that if this feels like what it is supposed to be, I don’t think I’ll regret it one bit.” As a 6-foot-1 post player of out Dexter, Thurmon has evolved into the Lady Raiders’ top 3-point shooter and a perpetual mismatch when she is on the floor. “She has grown tremendously as a player since her freshman year in high school.
Couldn’t be more well deserved to a great kid and a great family,” Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk said. “She was showing signs that she could shoot it pretty well. Last year and this year, she’s worked on it, put in the extra time with coach (Alex) Wiggs. It shows what hard work, dedication, and a little perseverance will do for you.” As a freshman last year, Thurmon started every game and averaged 9.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.3 blocks. As the team’s only 6-footer last year, the Raiders relied on Thurmon in the post defensively, and she finished 38th in the country in defensive rebounds and 11th in blocks. She shot 28.7% on 3-pointers, 71.8% on free throws and 34.8% overall while taking 5.1 3-pointers per game, second only to All American guard Hailee Erickson.
At the national tournament, Thurmon was 5 for 11 shooting and 3 for 9 on 3-pointers for 13 points as the last-seeded Raiders lost by four points to ninth-seeded Jones. Through six games this season, Thurmon is third on the team in scoring with 11.7 points to go with 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.4 assists and 1.0 blocks. With three freshmen taller than Thurmon on this year’s team, the Raiders are relying on her less for blocks and rebounds and more for 3s and scoring.
Thurmon’s shooting percentages have jumped. She’s shooting 42.6% from the field and 46.5% on 3-pointers and is taking 7.2 3-pointers per game while nobody else is shooting more than four. “She’s gonna be a stretch 4 (at UC Riverside),” Walk said. “She’ll be able to pass the ball anywhere and bring the ball down the floor, shoot the 3. She’s going to give people matchup problems as she does for us, even at that level. She can go inside and out, it is just a great fit for her.” UC Riverside, which, competes in the Big West Conference, sits in the foothills of the Box Springs Mountain Reserve Park, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. “It is about 80 degrees all the time, and it is just unbelievable. Mountains everyone you can see, It’s a whole new world,” Thurmon said. ‘When I first got there, I knew going in with the coaches, and how they treated me spectacular. I knew I would be taken care of. And the facilities and the girls, it was all that was on my checklist and what I wanted.” The Highlanders have reached the NCAA Tournament three times, in 2006, 2007 and 2010.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic