Karissa McLaughlin is officially a Purdue Boilermaker.
Now it really gets tough.
Indiana's Miss Basketball from Homestead arrived on campus Sunday night after a hectic week of Indiana All-Star basketball activity. It culminated with last weekend's split with the Kentucky All-Stars.
The Indiana team lost in Indianapolis and won at Frankfort, Ky.
McLaughlin, perhaps the state's best shooter and one of the top shooting prospects entering college, struggled to find the range in the annual series. She was a combined 5-for-27 from the field for 16 points in the two games.
That was a big drop from a high school career in which McLaughlin scored 2,586 points. This past season she averaged 25.9 points while shooting 46.1 percent from three-point range and leading Homestead to the Class 4A state title.
That's irrelevant now. McLaughlin joins a Boiler program seeking to return to the forefront of women's basketball that it enjoyed from 1999 to 2009. Purdue went 23-13 last season and pushed top-seed Notre Dame hard in a second-round NCAA tourney game.
“I think the future is bright for Purdue basketball,” McLaughlin said. “We won't go out there to just play in the NCAA Tournament. We'll be out there to make runs. We're trying to make history.”
Purdue returns two of the Big Ten's top young players in Dominique Oden and Ae'Rianna Harris. As freshmen last season Oden averaged 10.8 points and 3.1 rebounds, while Harris was at 7.5 and 5.2.
Oden set a Boiler freshman record with 61 three-point records. Harris set a school freshman record with 75 blocks.
Oden had 16 points and three assists against Notre Dame. Harris had 12 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
The 5-8 McLaughlin is part of a five-player Purdue newcomer class, which ties for the largest ever under coach Sharon Versyp. The others are 5-10 guard Léony Boudreau, 6-5 center Fatou Diagne, 6-foot forward Tamara Farquhar and 6-2 forward Dani Lawson.
Beyond that, Versyp has commitments from a pair of Indiana Junior All-Stars in Martinsville guard Kayana Traylor and Center Grove guard Cassidy Hardin.
“I played against them in AAU ball,” McLaughlin said of Traylor and Hardin. “They're incredible players and people. I'm excited that I'll be playing with them.
“With my (freshman) class, we have five really strong people. Then with (Traylor and Hardin) coming in, and with what we have coming back from last season, we have all the pieces coming together. Everyone is motivated to keep it going.
“They were really close to beating Notre Dame. We'll work hard in the off-season.”
Versyp, a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, has won 237 games in 11 seasons with the Boilers, and 354 games overall. She has had led Purdue to nine NCAA tourney appearances, four Big Ten tourney titles and two NCAA tourney.
Directing Purdue's off-season conditioning program will be newly named director of strength and conditioning Jennifer Jones. She will oversee all Purdue programs other than football.
For the past 13 years, Jones was the assistant director of strength and conditioning at Texas A&M.
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