BOUNTIFUL — Mercedes Staples kept an open mind, but in the end, she didn’t change it.
The soon to be senior at Viewmont High announced on Twitter Sunday night that she was committing to play basketball at Clemson University. Staples picked Clemson over a group that included 14 other schools which had offered her a scholarship, including LSU, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech and Pepperdine.
“At the beginning of July … I felt like I was going to go (to Clemson), but then I was just told to keep my mind open, so I kept it open,” Staples said. “We did a family fast yesterday and then I just knew.”
Staples, a 5-foot-11 point guard, averaged 18.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.9 steals in 24 reported games last year, as she led Viewmont to an appearance in the 5-A championship game.
Natalie Williams, who played basketball at UCLA, was a four-time WNBA All-Star and now has her own basketball academy, compared Staples – who she coaches – to Diana Taurasi, a 6-foot guard for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA.
Taurasi was selected by Phoenix with the first overall pick in the WNBA Draft in 2004 and is a three-time WNBA champion and a seven-time WNBA All-Star.
“The biggest thing is just her ability to make everyone around her better and to take over a game,” Williams said of Staples. “I think Mercedes can score at will whenever she wants. She’s a very unselfish player, and she’s not trying to get her own points.”
Staples said she is excited for a “new adventure.” She credited Viewmont alum Grace Johnson, who will be playing on the women’s soccer team at the University of Mississippi, for helping put her mind at ease about playing so far away from home. Both are LDS.
“It’s kind of crazy going from all of these (LDS people) to just a little bit,” Staples said. “It’s all good.”
Staples said she did not receive a scholarship offer from either BYU or Utah.
Other schools that offered her a scholarship were Montana State, Nevada, Wyoming, Santa Clara, Portland, Denver, Weber State, Utah Valley, Southern Utah and Dixie State.