Comforts of home better choice for past Westview star Rechis
Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2012 12:00 pm
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Florida is nice place to visit, but not everyone would be happy living there.
Count Amber Rechis among that lot.
The all-time leading scorer in Westview High School girls’ basketball history and four-time all-stater cited her desire to return to her rural West Tennessee roots and be closer to family and friends as reasoning for transferring from Florida Gulf Coast University to Union University in Jackson.
Rechis will have three seasons of eligibility remaining with the Lady Bulldogs after redshirting her first season at FGCU and then playing one year there in 2011-12.
She’s admittedly looking forward to being back in the area after spending the last two years in Fort Meyers — some 17 hours from Martin.
“It’s a long way (down there) and I really missed my family and everybody around here,” Rechis told The Press via telephone from Orlando where, ironically, she was watching her younger sister Tiffany play in the AAU national tournament. “It was nice there (FGCU), but I really missed and wanted to live closer to home.”
A prolific scorer and 3-point shooter at Westview, where she scored a record 2,871 points and set essentially every school offensive mark in the process while leading the Lady Chargers to a stellar 107-34 record, the elder Rechis sister initially passed on the chance to stay close to home and play at Union.
Instead, she chose the Sunshine State and the rising fortunes of the Lady Eagles of the Division I Atlantic Sun Conference, where she sat out her first season.
In 2011-12, she averaged 10 minutes per-game as a redshirt frosh, averaging 4.8 points-per-game in a reserve role for a FGCU team that went 29-3 and won the A-Sun Tournament championship in its first year of eligibility for the conference title and qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
The highlights for Rechis were a 26-point outburst against Webber International and a 17-point performance against David Lipscomb that came during the team’s 21-game winning streak.
More impressive, however, was her team-best 56 percent shooting from beyond the arc and 94 percent free throw line accuracy — trademarks during her prep-playing days at Westview, where shot shot 42 percent from 3-point range while making 339 shots from there.
Admittedly, though, the distance from Florida to Tennessee and the absence of those closest to her kept Rechis from truly enjoying the experience.
“In high school, I just wanted to get away. When I got away, I wanted to come back home,” she laughed. “My family actually moved to Florida four or five months before moving back to Tennessee late last year. I’d really missed them.”
Rechis was recruited heavily by Union head coach Mark Campbell out of high school and has been welcomed with open arms by the tradition-rich Lady Bulldog program, which is transitioning to Division II this coming season after winning five national championships in NAIA.
“We’re thrilled to be getting a young lady who will fit in perfectly with the style we play,” said Campbell, whose program has featured the 3-point shot heavily during its remarkable run of success. “You just don’t see a lot of shooters like Amber and, even with some of the great ones we’ve had here, I think she can be as good as anyone we’ve ever had here at Union.
“I’m not really sure why she didn’t want to come to us out of high school, but I know she’s really excited to be a part of our program now. I don’t anticipate there will be much of a transition for her, coming here from where she was, and I know (FGCU head coach) Karl (Smesko) really hated to lose her because of what kind of 3-point shooter she is. I think she really loves basketball again and is eager to play in front of people who care about her and know who she is.”
Westview head coach Sean Stephenson has little doubt that Rechis will mesh well at Union, but said he thought the Florida experience was beneficial to her, too.
“I think it was good for her to get out of town, and I think she liked it — just maybe not as much as she thought she would,” Stephenson said of Rechis’ decision to sign out of high school with (Florida) Gulf Coast. “It wasn’t a bad experience for her. But I do think it’s equally good that she’s coming back home, too.
“Her style does fit perfectly with the way Union plays and I believe it’s a great time for her to be there with them going to Division II.”
Rechis doesn’t know what her exact role at UU will be and insisted she had “no idea” how many minutes she’ll play.
And that doesn’t seem to be an issue at all.
“I’m not sure how it’s all going to play out at Union in regards to that,” she admitted. “I’m just really looking forward to being there where when I look around, I see friends and family at my games.
“I’m just glad to be back.”
Guess there’s truly no place like home.
Published in The Press 7.12.12