Over the past weekend, Kayla Thigpen visited UCF and made a big decision.
The Palm Beach Lakes guard was impressed by the campus and the school’s basketball program, verbally committing to UCF at the end of the trip. Thigpen chose the Knights over Southern Mississippi, Stetson, Rutgers, Charlotte and Texas.
Thigpen was blown away by UCF’s coaching staff and facilities. She was also drawn to the school because it’s close to home.
“I loved everything about UCF,” Thigpen said. “It’s not like I committed just because I had fun that weekend. I actually felt like I belonged there. I connected with everybody.”
The verbal commitment takes one of the area’s best girls basketball players off the board. Thigpen, who is entering her senior season, averaged a team-high 21.2 points per game to go along with 5.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists as a junior.
The 5-foot-8 Thigpen led the Rams to their first state tournament berth since 2003 and was named the Palm Beach Post’s Large Schools Girls Basketball Player of the Year last season.
“Kayla is going to have a lot of success at the college level,” Palm Beach Lakes coach Cassandra Rahming said. “She’s fundamentally sound, and that helps a lot. But obviously, she’s going to have to continue to grow as a player to keep up with the pace of the college game because it’s faster than high school.”
UCF recorded a 10-20 record last season and has not advanced to the NCAA tournament since 2011. But Thigpen believes she can help turn the program around.
“It’s exciting for me to join a growing program,” Thigpen said. “I always like to be a part of history that has to do with basketball.”
Thigpen is confident she will stick with her verbal commitment. She can sign a national letter of intent with UCF starting on Nov. 12.
“I’m thinking she’s going to go ahead and stick with it and sign with UCF next month,” Rahming said. “I don’t see her having a change of heart.”