Winfield's Rhoades signs with Rio

Winfield High School’s Mara Rhoades poses with her
parents and coaches after signing to play basketball
at the University of Rio Grande. Pictured are, from
left to right, (seated) Brenda Rhoades, Mara Rhoades,
Chuck Rhoades; (standing) Rio Grande head coach
David Smalley, Winfield High head coach Tim Toler.

WINFIELD, W.Va. – University of Rio Grande women's basketball head coach David Smalley has announced the signing of Winfield High School's Mara Rhoades for the 2013-14 school year.

Rhoades, a 5-foot-5 guard/small forward, averaged 13.7 points, 7.5 assists and four rebounds per game as a senior for head coach Tim Toler's Lady Generals, who finished 12-13 following a loss to Spring Valley in the Class AAA Region IV co-finals.

"I am so excited. This kind of opportunity is something I've been thinking about for such a long time," Rhoades said. "I can't wait to actually get there and get started. I know we have to be on campus August 11th for mini-camp and it can't get here soon enough. This whole day kind of seems surreal."

Rhoades, who also shot 45 percent from the field last season, was named Offensive Player of the Year by her teammates and also garnered Gamer of the Week honors from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch for the week of January 7-11.

Rhoades, who also earned her team's Coaches Award as a junior, excelled in the classroom as well, maintaining a 3.78 grade point average en route to earning induction into the National Honor Society.

"We're excited to be adding Mara to our program for the coming season," said Smalley. "She's a very enthusiastic young lady, who did a nice job for coach Toler's program on the court, as well as in the classroom."

Rhoades made her decision to sign with the RedStorm after also getting interest from Defiance College, Salem (W.Va.) International University, Cedar Crest (Pa.) College, the University of Pittsburgh-Titusville, West Virginia State University and Kent State University.

"I started receiving some contacts about midway through my senior season and I told myself I could do this if I really wanted it," said Rhoades, who plans to major in nursing. "But I loved everything about my visit to Rio - the campus, the team, the coaches - I felt like I fit in right away. Being fairly close to home was a big help, too."

Rhoades cited her three-point shooting and ability to create off the dribble as the key components she'll bring to the program.

"I also hope I'm bringing a different mindset to the team," she added. "I always play 120 percent and I'll push myself until I collapse."

Like Rhoades, Smalley has the August 11 mini-camp circled on his calendar to begin to see where all of his newcomers fit in the scheme of things for the coming season.

"Mara came in and worked out for us at our recent Athletic Recruiting Day and had a great visit," he said. "We're looking forward to getting her back here on campus with the rest of the team and finding out exactly where she fits in."

"I would love to help Rio win an NAIA championship by the time I graduate and be a big part of doing it," Rhoades said.

Rhoades is the daughter of Chuck and Brenda Rhoades of Winfield.