By: Jack Adamo
The journey to Rhode Island College may not have been easy for the number one women’s basketball recruit in state, but it has certainly helped shape her. A handful of setbacks landed Vandell Andrade, the Rhode Island stand out, on the doorstep of the small local school with big potential. The Bay View Academy senior will come into a newly successful program with one thing on her mind, to win.
Andrade comes from a winning program herself. The senior led her team to a cool 23-2 record, dropping her 1,000th point along the way, and earned a trip to the Rhode Island Interscholastic League girls Division-I title game back in March. Bay View dropped that game to La Salle Academy 53-49 leading Andrade to say, “Now I have to get one in college.” That’s a highlight of Andrade’s outstanding attitude, and it’s been a lifetime in the making.
A lifelong basketball player, Andrade grew up with the dream of playing Division-I somewhere. That was the dream, and at a time it was the plan. Highly recruited throughout her career, she received countless letters from big time coaches interested in her and trying to get her to play for them. Then the knee surgeries came.
The knee surgeries happened one after another and suddenly the letters stopped coming. Andrade was still one of Rhode Island’s standout athletes, but was beginning to realize that the plan was changing and it was either accept it or fall behind. “As the knee surgeries happened one after another it became more realistic that D-I wasn’t where I was going to end up,” said Andrade about the tough subject, “and when Coach Reilly knocked on the door I was egger to meet him and see how it went.”
When that meeting went really well, Andrade came to a mature realization that there is a bigger picture. “It doesn’t matter anymore about D-I, D-II, D-III, it’s all about playing,” said the mature teen. “Most girls that I played with all my life aren’t going to play anymore, they won’t have this opportunity”
Coach Reilly had similar thoughts on the decision to bring Andrade to RIC and into the family that the women’s basketball team has become. “She’s mature and optimistic, extremely hard working and its everything we look for in a student-athlete here,” said Reilly “We’re excited she chose to come here and she’ll be a great addition to the program.”
Despite having plenty of reason to be down about the whole process, Andrade is the ideal optimist of the situation. “To me any opportunity is a good opportunity,” said the smiling Andrade, “I see this as an opportunity to keep playing.” Keep playing, and keep winning we hope as Andrade will be an addition to a team losing five seniors after winning the Little East and making a run into the NCAA Tournament. The down to earth future Anchorwomen didn’t get over confident when thinking about her roll on next year’s team, she simply stated she wants to be a player that contributes
Coach Reilly expects her to contribute both on and off the court with her attitude and outlook on life leading the way to a tight knit team in the future. “I just love interacting with people,” said Andrade, “I love to have a good time and my whole thing is all my teammates are like a family. So I just like to have us all be close and help one another.”
Now as a committed recruit, Andrade has begun the process of working her way onto the Murray Center court. Playing pick-up with the older girls on the team when she can and still keeping up with a demanding course load at Bay View is proving to be no challenge for the energetic 18-year-old. Having gotten a chance to play in the Murray Center on the road to the finals this year, Andrade mentioned it was eye opening to get to play in a gym that she had just watched the Anchorwomen host the first round of the NCAA’s, knowing she was on the way to spending four years there herself.
With a large group of new players coming in, attitudes like Andrade’s will be needed to make the transition year smooth. Andrade leads a recruiting class that includes players from Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, highlighted by the top three players in Rhode Island all heading to the Murray Center. With incoming classes like this, Coach Reilly looks to limit the rebuilding time, and lead the team back to the big dance.