MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Crystal Dangerfield posed with a young fan recently asking the Blackman senior point guard for a moment with her favorite high school basketball player.
It comes with the territory of being not only the state’s first college recruit headed to Connecticut to play for coach Geno Auriemma, but also being one of the top players to play in her home area of Rutherford County.
However, it served as a reminder: Being the top-rated point guard nationally for the Class of 2016 has responsibilities on and off the court.
“I never think about it when I’m on the floor,” said Dangerfield, who plans to major in business at UConn. “So as a player, no. But as a kid, it’s hard to be Crystal Dangerfield.”
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“There are people that just want to be your friend because you are going to Connecticut. Or, it’s grown-ups claiming that they helped you do this or do that when that’s not really the case.”
Welcome to the life of an elite high school athlete.
Dangerfield, who was named to the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Preseason Girls Basketball Team, also has been named the Sportsperson of the Year by Gannett partner The Daily News Journal in her home area after a calendar year of triumph as an individual and as a team player.
It’s a year that included winning a state championship and the Class AAA state tournament MVP, a gold medal for Team USA, being named Tennessee’s Gatorade Player of the Year for a second consecutive year, while also earning her first Miss Basketball award.
Oh, and she signed with Connecticut, the three-time defending national champions.
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“It’s just been really crazy,” Dangerfield said. “I’m trying to just let it all sink in, then try and slow it down.
“After the new year, it’s five more months, then I’m up in Connecticut.”
Let’s not speed up time too much.
The 5-foot-6 point guard still has a couple of months remaining in her high school basketball career at Blackman.
“Look at what’s she’s accomplished,” said Oakland girls coach Jennifer Grandstaff of Dangerfield. “She’s won state championships. She’s a UConn signee. She’s set the stage for a lot of young athletes in our area and kids playing today.
“They are in awe of her. It’s been great for our county.”
Said Blackman coach Jessica Jackson said, “There is not really anything more she can check off. But she can try and get that state title again. Up until this spot, there isn’t really anything more that she can accomplish. I think she’s arguably the best player that’s played (from Tennessee).”