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Public Notices

April 18, 2014

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North Greene's McNeese Signs To Play Basketball At ETSU

Originally published: 2013-11-13 20:33:13
Last modified: 2013-11-14 11:03:51

Sun Sports Editor

Mendy McNeese has always had aspirations to play basketball at the Division I level.

This past June, the North Greene senior almost missed her calling – literally.

"I usually don't answer the phone when I don't recognize the number," she laughed.  "I get a lot of calls from telemarketers and stuff like that.  But for some reason, I answered it this time."

It proved to be a good decision. East Tennessee State University assistant coach Brittany Burkhardt was on the line, and she was calling to inform McNeese that the school had an interest in her basketball abilities.

The rest is history.

Wednesday afternoon, McNeese became what is thought to be the first Division I signee in Lady Huskies' history as she announced that she will continue her playing and educational career at ETSU next fall.

"This has always been my dream and the Lord worked everything out," McNeese said.  "There have been a lot of great athletes to come through North Greene, and I'm just honored to represent the school."

"I can't tell you how thankful and how blessed I am to have this opportunity."

McNeese is coming off a season in which she averaged 16 points, 4.5 rebounds, four assists and three steals per game in leading North Greene to a District 1-A tournament championship.

For her career, she has totaled 1,059 points, and that's with having played only eight games her sophomore season due to a torn ACL.

Last year she became the first North Greene player to be named All-State as a junior since Jennifer Weems received the honor back in 1999.

"I've never had a kid work on her game, work on her body, during the offseason, preseason..whenever, like Mendy has," North Greene head coach James Buchanan said.  

"When she came in, we thought she was definitely a kid that could eventually play college ball. Her freshman year, she played so well on such a big stage that we knew she could be really special."

McNeese made an immediate impact for the Lady Huskies.  She joined a squad that featured a strong group of upperclassmen and helped lead North Greene all the way to the Class A state championship game, where they lost to Wayne County, 63-58.

McNeese received All-Tournament honors at state that year as she poured in 26 points in a 54-39 win over Loretto in the semifinals.

"The team we were playing in the championship used this defense called 'diamond and chaser'," Buchanan remembered.  "And Mendy was the girl they chased.  They basically used this gimmick defense to take a freshman out of the game in the state finals."

North Greene started the next season 6-2, but following McNeese's injury the Lady Huskies went on to finish with a 13-13 record.

McNeese admits that it was probably the low point of her basketball career.  She also credits it as being one of the big reasons she got to where she is today.

"That was a bad year," McNeese said.  "It was really a struggle for me.  It got to the point where I didn't want anything to do with basketball."

"But after a while, I was able to find out who I really was.  I worked hard to become a better player when I came back.  I got faster, I got quicker, I lost some weight.  If it wasn't for me tearing my ACL, I wouldn't be the same player I don't think."

Buchanan said that McNeese moving on to the next level is directly attributed to her unparalleled work ethic.

"As far as the extra time she spends in the weight room and in the gym, I would put her up against anybody all-time," the coach said.  "I think she realized that she was maybe a step slower than some guards, but she wasn't going to let that keep her from achieving success."

"She put the work in and she has earned every honor she has received."

Buchanan describes McNeese as "the total package", noting that in addition to her talents on the court, she is also a great teammate as well as a tremendous asset to the community off the court.

McNeese is active with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, leading devotions and testimony during meetings before school.  She is a member of the National Honors Society and several other clubs at NGHS.

She was crowned the North Greene homecoming queen earlier this school year.

McNeese also takes pride in her contributions to her church, where she is part of a Pledge to Purity Class and helps teach lessons at such things as Bible School.  She also enjoys singing at church.

"Nowadays, most people are jealous of other people's successes," Buchanan said.  "But that community really supports Mendy, if for no other reason than the sheer fact that she is just so kind to everyone she meets."

"I see her walk into a special education class with a bunch of kids she doesn't know and speak to every single one of them, asking them how their weekend was and things like that."

"I say this every year, but I really have good kids year in and year out.  It has been a blessing to have Mendy in this program.  She has never looked at me wrong.  She has never questioned me.  She is always on time.  She is always enthusiastic."

McNeese is the daughter of Mark and Julie McNeese.  She hopes to coach one day, and plans on majoring in sports and leisure management at ETSU.
For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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