ATWOOD – Having first played basketball in third grade, Madison Heckert thought around sixth or seventh grade she might have some potential for serious success in the game.
That’s turned out to be true. The latest indication came Wednesday afternoon in the West Carroll High School library as Heckert signed a letter of intent to play college basketball at Arkansas State University.
West Carroll principal and athletic director Dexter Williams could recall only two previous War Eagles, both boys, to play Division I basketball.
Heckert, a senior, is quiet and does not seek attention, but she’s asserted herself during games to become one of West Tennessee’s top posts in the Class of 2016.
“I’ve come a long way from the girl that didn’t want to push anyone around or touch people,” Heckert said with a smile.
Given her size and skills it’s obvious to opponents how important she is to West Carroll, and that will be even more true this year as the Lady War Eagles replace several key contributors.
“She saw a lot of double teams last year and it made her have to be more aggressive, so that just showed her no matter what position she’s playing she’s going to have to be the aggressor,” second-year West Carroll coach Anna Trull said.
Trull explained Heckert has worked on skills more associated with guard play to become versatile, and Heckert said the Arkansas State staff liked the way she handled the ball.
Arkansas State has been coached by Brian Boyer since the 1999-2000 season. Over the past two seasons the Red Wolves have won 46 games, including a 30-8 mark in Sun Belt Conference regular season games.
“They’re losing five seniors this year, so they’re needing more people,” Heckert said. “They see me as a post player, and it helped that I can shoot outside.”
Heckert wants to be a physical therapist after college and is a strong student. On the court, she will be challenged to score and defend even when she doesn’t have the size or strength advantage to which she’s currently accustomed.
“I think that she’s definitely going to have to get stronger in the post,” Trull said. “Around here she’s not worked as hard of course as she’s going to be, and I think that will show early on. But with her work ethic I think that she will be just fine.”
Heckert signed Wednesday in front of her parents, brothers and grandparents as well as several teammates and other classmates.
“I’m just very proud of her,” Trull said. “I’m excited to see the future she has ahead of her.”
Craig Thomas, 425-9634