Nia Staples has a renewed passion for the game of basketball.
The 2016 Lakota West graduate completed her redshirt sophomore season as a point guard at West Virginia and will graduate in three years this August.
Staples, who helped the Firebirds to the 2015 Division I state title, is also ready for her next opportunity after entering the NCAA transfer portal and will be a graduate transfer. She hopes to have two years of eligibility remaining.
“I was exposed to a lot of opportunities here but really I just want a new start,” Staples told our news partner WCPO.com.
Staples scored 52 points in 30 games overall and averaged 8.9 minutes for West Virginia this past season. West Virginia (22-11) made it to the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) this past season.
Staples scored 14 points during her redshirt freshman season of 2017-18 after a knee injury in the spring of her freshman season.
Staples will complete her sports psychology degree this summer with a minor in counseling. She will pursue a master’s degree in sport and exercise psychology.
Staples earned Big 12 All-Academic honors for two years and has a 3.2 grade-point average.
“That says a whole lot about her understanding of taking advantage of being a student-athlete,” Lakota West coach Andy Fishman said. “Her work ethic was always stellar and her attitude and positivity and confidence never wavered. She is just a great young lady to coach and I think whoever picks her up on this is going to get someone who is very driven and very focused on being a great player and a great teammate, a great person.”
Despite her injury her freshman year, Staples said it strengthened her character and her resolve for the game. Her mid-range game was always strong but she worked on her long-range shooting.
Staples said she prides herself on defense and offensively she says she has the court vision to help score or give her teammates the opportunity.
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She also stayed positive during her push through adversity and learned to be more grateful for every day on and off the court. That gives Staples a renewed sense of energy as she works out this spring.
“I am just excited to keep playing,” Staples said. “Every day I think about playing and helping the team reach new goals. I haven’t lost it at all. Even though I was discouraged from not playing, just watching my teammates built a fire up.”
Fishman has no doubt Staples will succeed on the court and in life. He could see her one day possibly as a school counselor and involved in coaching – giving back to the game she loves.
“Just a great teammate and a great player and someone I will always fondly remember coaching,” Fishman said.
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