Congleton home in Huntington with Herd
HUNTINGTON - Two years ago Huntington High standout Dazha Congleton left the Tri-State for junior college in search of the perfect fit for her women’s basketball future.
As it turned out, that perfect situation brought her back to a gym that is minutes from friends and family.
On Wednesday, Congleton made it official when she signed to continue her basketball career with Marshall University and head coach Tony Kemper.
The addition of Congleton gives Kemper’s signing class another local boost while adding one of the country’s most sought after guards in the junior college ranks.
“Her game has matured and then, when you talk to her, she has matured in every phase of her life,” Kemper said. “We had a pretty good see for her coming up through the high school ranks. She was obviously very good and a dynamic player there and after the two years playing on what she helped create at Wabash (Valley), watching her compete and raise her team to a different level, I think you can’t help but see how that ability can translate for us.”
Congleton has two years of eligibility as she joins the Thundering Herd program.
The 5-foot-7 guard led Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel, Illinois, to a 32-1 record last season and a berth in the junior college championship. She led Wabash Valley with 12.6 points per game while adding 6.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.2 steals.
In two years at Wabash Valley College, the team went a combined 62-4, turning the program into one of the tops in the junior college ranks. For her efforts, Congleton was named the 25th-best junior college sophomore in the nation.
Congleton’s athleticism has never been in question and Kemper said she brings another dimension of speed and quickness that is elite among the Conference USA ranks.
“In terms of athleticism, she’s got gears and speed and quickness that is going to be at the top of what we have on our team,” Kemper said. “She can play 94 feet away from the basket and make the right decision. She can create for herself and she can create for others on a high level. It’s going to be something where we probably haven’t had that open-ended speed and play making ability. We’ve had very good players, but she can get where she wants to go on the basketball floor.”
For Congleton, the opportunity returns for her to play in front of friends and family -- something she hasn’t been able to do since starring for the Highlanders during a four-year career that included all-state accolades in each year and trips to the Class AAA state tournament.
Congleton joins Tri-State signees Savannah Wheeler (Boyd County) and Paige Shy (Huntington St. Joe) in the Marshall recruiting class as high-impact players from within 15 miles of campus.
“That’s probably the most important thing when you look at the whole of it,” Kemper said. “Players are starting to realize that they can do the things they want to do in women’s basketball here at home. Dazha fits into that nicely. When she was in high school, it probably never crossed her mind that this is where you go to have a good career and it’s exciting to play, yet if you walked into the Henderson Center this year for some games, that atmosphere was big-time.
“Much of that credit goes to our fans who have come to watch us and enjoy the brand of basketball because there are some local players who are doing really well. We had that this year and as we go into the future, we are going to continue to have that.”