| Future Skyhawk – WHS basketball standout Grace Ann Swaim (seated, center) will continue her athletic career with the UT Martin Skyhawks team. On hand for her signing on Tuesday were (front, from left) Westview head coach Sean Stephenson, Swaim, her sister Taylor Swaim, (back, from left) her father Mike Swaim, her mother Ann Swaim and Westview assistant coach Bethany Palmer. |
Little more than a month after her high school basketball career came to an end, Westview Lady Charger senior Grace Ann Swaim has signed to extend her on-the-court experience to the collegiate level.
And she won’t have to travel far to do it.
Tuesday morning with teammates, family and friends on hand at Westview High School, Swaim signed her National Letter of Intent to play basketball with the University of Tennessee at Martin Skyhawks under second-year head coach Kevin McMillan.
“It was a really good opportunity for me and a really good fit for me,” the 5-10 forward said of selecting UT Martin.
Swaim, the daughter of Mike and Ann Swaim, averaged 12.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest her senior season as she helped lead the Lady Chargers to their second consecutive semifinal berth in the TSSAA Class AA State Tournament.
During her career, in which she started 122 of 138 games over four years, she was a three time member of the All-District 13-AA, All-District 13-AA Tournament and All-Region 7-AA teams.
In addition she was a TSSAA All-State Tournament team member the past two seasons as well as being named to the Jackson Sun All-West Tennessee team the last two seasons.
After getting knocked around frequently against bigger players on the low post, the forward will likely see more playing time on the perimeter in college.
That shouldn’t be a problem, as Swaim connected on 42.5 percent (34-of-80) of shots behind the 3-point arc her senior campaign.
She was also deadly accurate at the free-throw line, hitting 82.2 percent (120-of-146). Her 1,398 career points is sixth most in Lady Charger history.
Swaim made the leap to the Division I-level Skyhawks after a visit to Lambuth University in Jackson and contact with Rhodes College in Memphis.
McMillan and his outstanding first recruiting class played a role in her decision to stay close to home.
“He’s definitely one of the reasons I was persuaded to stay,” Swaim said of her next head coach.
McMillan was named the Ohio Valley Conference women’s basketball Coach of the Year after turning expectations upside down for his first UT Martin team.
Picked to finish last in preseason polls voted on by OVC coaches, the Skyhawk women went on to finish fourth in the conference, host and win a quarterfinal tournament game before falling in the semifinals.
McMillan and the Skyhawks are expected to continue to soar with his incoming freshmen class filled with talent from West Tennesssee.
Among those recruits are several names Swaim is familiar with on a competitive level including three state champion Gibson County Lady Pioneers — Heather Butler, Heather Griffin and Aubrey Reedy.
“There’s a definite level of respect between us and the Gibson County players that I didn’t necessarily have for anyone else,” Swaim said of her former foes and future teammates.
Westview head coach Sean Stephenson thinks the move to play at UT Martin is “a great fit” for Swaim.
“From a teammate standpoint, she will be familiar with some of them. She’s a great locker room person and will certainly help set the practice tempo,” Stephenson said.
“Grace Ann is one that will help everybody get on the same page. From a toughness standpoint, on the floor and mentally, I put her second to none.”
“College is different, but Martin is still home and it’s still basketball,” he noted.