Thursday, May 24, 2018
Sports

Long-sought Chelsie Hall of Seffner Christian chooses Vanderbilt

When Chelsie Hall steps on the basketball court, she is usually the center of attention. Whether it's with Seffner Christian or her summer travel team, the Miami Suns, the 5-foot-9 point guard is likely playing in a gym lined with college coaches hoping to get her interested in their schools.

Ever since her sophomore season, her first at Seffner Christian, Hall has attracted attention. After years of letters and in-home visits, Hall verbally committed last week to Vanderbilt despite not visiting the campus. She has a visit planned this weekend.

She chose the Commodores over Louisville.

While the process was long and sometimes fun, she said she's glad it's over.

"After a while it was a little overwhelming," Hall said. "But it got better once I got down to the final few schools. Overall, I enjoyed the process."

It is a process that was set in motion many years ago. Hall knew early on that basketball was a way to get into college. She excelled at every level, and as an above average student she knew that her grades and talent would make her a top recruit.

She kept that focus through middle school and high school. Last week's commitment was the culmination of her hard work, but she's not done working. She said she would also like to play professionally if possible.

"I've always thought about playing basketball for a Division I school, ever since I was in elementary school," Hall said. "I knew that was a way for me to get into college, so I worked hard at it. And even back then, I did want to play in the WNBA. But I have to take it step by step."

Hall has played a major role in the Crusaders' success the past two seasons. As a sophomore transfer from Coral Springs, she averaged 15 points per game, second to senior captain Peyton Walker. Seffner Christian went to the Class 3A state final but lost to Miami Country Day.

With Walker graduated, Hall became the team leader as a junior. She averaged a team-best 21.2 points per game. Seffner Christian again advanced to the state tournament, and again lost to Country Day.

This season could be Hall's best yet.

"She has the rare ability of making the players around her better," second-year Seffner Christian coach Joe Cooper said. "And I think she's got the quickest first step of any player in the state. She can attack off the dribble better than anyone."

Expectations are certainly high at Seffner Christian. Most of the team is back from last year, and the Crusaders added Audra Leipold, who was the Times North Suncoast Player of the Year last season as a sophomore at Academy at the Lakes after averaging 24.8 points per game.

With her college decision behind her, Hall said her only goal this season is finishing with a state title.

"It does feel like there is a weight off my shoulders," Hall said. "Now it's all about a state championship. I'm very excited for this year to get going."

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