It was a long and winding road, but it seems that junior Lexi Carpenter has finally found a home in Slippery Rock as a member of the Rock women’s basketball team.
Before finding herself sporting the green and white, Carpenter played for two different universities. After three long years, she finally feels she is at the place she is supposed to be.
“It’s been a journey with basketball,” Carpenter said. “There has been a lot of good times and bad times but it is what has brought me here and I am in the moment and I love it.”
Carpenter’s father, Kevin, coached her older brother in soccer for a number of years and she felt that she was supposed to follow in their footsteps as a soccer player. One day, she found herself dribbling a soccer ball as if it was a basketball and insists something about it felt natural.
At the age of 13, Carpenter found herself at a crossroads where she felt she had to choose between soccer and basketball, both of which she was playing for traveling club teams. For her, it was an easy decision to choose the hardwood.
Carpenter, a communications major, graduated from Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, Va., where she is the school’s all-time leader in assists and earned two all-state honors during her junior and senior years.
Following her senior season she was ranked as the No. 11 player out of Virginia, the No. 43 player in her region and the No. 71 guard in the entire nation. ESPN also had her ranked as a three-star prospect on its website.
After considering all of her collegiate options, Carpenter’s heart led her to the University of Dayton in Ohio, an NCAA Division I program. However, her stint with the Flyers lasted just a season as she decided to leave the program. During her time there, Carpenter she appeared in just four games and averaged 2.5 points per game, 1.0 rebounds and six minutes per game. After returning home, she decided she would continue her collegiate career in Virginia, but this all changed when her former high school coach, Rebecca Tillett, accepted an assistant coaching job at Indiana University, Pa. (IUP). It didn’t take long for Tillett to convince Carpenter to join her and become a Crimson Hawk.
Once again, Carpenter’s tenure with a college basketball program was brief. In her first week on campus and during a pickup, her hand got caught in a teammate’s jersey and she tore several tendons which required season-ending surgery. At the end of the 2013-2014 basketball season, Tillett left IUP and Carpenter found herself in a similar position, also leaving the university. After that year, she decided to sit for an entire season in order to commit to another Division II program for the beginning of 2015.
After a visit with Rock head coach Bobby McGraw and assistant coach Ryenn Micaletti in October of 2014, she verbally committed to SRU. In fact, Carpenter credits part of her decision to come to The Rock to her relationship with Micaletti, who served as an assistant to the IUP women’s basketball team during Carpenter’s time there.
This season, Carpenter is a proud member of The Green and White. Through her first eight games with SRU, she has averaged 17.8 points per game with a field goal percentage of .432. She has also racked up 37 assists, including her season-high of nine assists during a home match against Mansfield on Nov. 21. Despite her impressive resume’ early into the season, Carpenter gives all of the credit to her new teammates.
“Each person on this team, 1-15, brings something so unique in order to be a championship team,” Carpenter said. “It’s funny watching at the beginning because there is so much talent that we have to learn the chemistry. They make my job easy. I have shooters everywhere, posts who are big that can catch the ball and make post moves, a talented guard in Erica (Aiello) who is quick.”
According to Carpenter, the most impressive thing about her team is their intensity and she says it is like a trickling effect starting from the very top with Coach McGraw. With the way her team and the program has improved, she thinks it is possible for SRU to contend for a title.
“If everyone plays their roles and does what we need to do, this will be a championship team,” Carpenter said. “I’m confident enough to say that. Player per player, we’ve got it.”
After the 2015-2016 season ends, Carpenter will still have one and a half more years of eligibility. She intends on using her full year eligibility next season and her half year of eligibility the following year. During that half year, she will join the team at its exact mid-season point so she will be eligible for a potential playoff run.