By Brent Cahwee, NDNSPORTS.COM (Updated 4/1/2014 9:30 PM)
(Louisville, KY) – In 2010, Shoni Schimmel was the talk of the college recruiting scene, rated as high as the #6 recruit in the nation by Hoop Gurlz. At the time, Shoni was the only ESPN 100 recruit who had not signed with a college during her senior year. Speculations and rumors began to mount as to why as to why the dynamic guard, who had been compared to “Pistol” Pete Maravich, hadn’t signed with a college even after her high school season was over. Fast forward now four years later, all that doubt on whether Shoni or her sister Jude could make it at the next level is all water under the bridge.
Since arriving in Louisville, Shoni has been a four year starter for the Cardinals and averaged an amazing 15.1 points per game as a freshman which was good enough to get her named to the Big East Conference All-Freshman team and honorable mention for the conference. Shoni arrived at Louisville more like a junior college transfer than a freshman and what head coach Jeff Walz knew from the beginning is that she just needed some court time to adjust her play to the next level. By the time the NCAA tourney arrived, Shoni was fearless and in rare form and for the first time broke into the national headlines when she scored a game and career high 33 points over the No. 2 seed Xavier to advance the Cardinals to the sweet 16 round of the women’s March Madness tournament that season.
During her sophomore season, Shoni was the team’s leading scorer at 14.3 points per game and for the first time in her college career was named to the Wooden Watch list, which was an honor in itself considering that list is reserved generally for WNBA top 10 picks. Shoni finished the season being named to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-Region 1 team.
Probably what was the most memorable season for any college player was her junior year, Shoni started the season with all the usual accolades she had received the previous seasons and she still finished as the team’s leading scorer at 14.2 points per game, even while teams where trying to double-team and guard her more efficiently than they had in previous years. As the post season play came around, Louisville was ranked higher than they had before but they were still not given any respect that a UCONN, Tennessee, or Baylor teams were given. But by the time the Cardinals made it to the Oklahoma City regional semi-final of the NCAA March Madness tournament, the Lady Cards were on fire and up against the most feared player in women’s college basketball, 6-foot-8 Brittany Griner who was averaging 33 points a game in the tournament.
In what many considered a for gone conclusion, giving the fact that Baylor had only lost 1 game in 75 tries over two seasons and were the tournaments number one overall seed, no one would ever thought that Louisville could come up with a game plan for the Baylor team destined to win it all again. Even the parents of the Shoni and Jude took a hard look at reality and made a bet that they would tie the knot together in marriage after all these years if somehow the Cardinals could pull of the major upset. But at the end of the night, what many sports writer called the biggest upset in college basketball history for men or women, the Cardinals lived up to their tournament motto “Party Crashers” and defeated Baylor with Shoni leading the way as the court leader for the Cardinals. Shoni was named Most Outstanding Player of the Oklahoma City Regional before they moved on to the Final Four in New Orleans where they couldn’t overcome their arch nemesis for the Cardinal program, the UCONN Huskies.
This final season has not been disappointing at all for the Shoni, she still currently leads the team in scoring at 17 points per game and she broke the 2,000 point mark for her career at Louisville to rise to number two on the school’s all-time list. Shoni also many school records such as most double digit scoring games and most three pointers for a career to name a few. Shoni comes into the Elite Eight game as the #3 seed in the NCAA tourney and thousands of Native American fans from all over country and reservations near and far will be watching to support her, Jude, and the rest of the Lady Cards. Win or lose tonight, I am sure Indian Country will be proud and honored to have watched Shoni play her last game in a Cardinal uniform.
Oh, and that Wooden Watch list that Shoni has always been named to as a pre-season selection the past two years. Well, she has made the Top 10 finalist list for the first time in her career, you know, the list that is only reserved for WNBA first round pics. I guess we will have one more goodbye for Shoni when it is all said and done with.