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Epiphanny Prince Has No Regrets as School Starts Without Her

School’s back in session at Rutgers and Epiphanny Prince Epiphanny Prince is not in class. She’s moved out of her dorm a few of weeks ago. She is not doing conditioning workouts with her teammates or preparing for her final college season under the watchful eye of Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer.

Instead, Prince is working out on her own, training to exhaustion with her former AAU coach and a personal trainer in Brooklyn, trying to make the transition from college star to working pro.

She became the second college player to do so. Virginia’s Schuye LaRue left after her sophomore season in 2001 to play in Europe. She was drafted by the Los Angeles Sparks in 2003 but never played in the WNBA.

I was not at Virginia at the time, but the concencous was the choice to leave early was not the best idea.

Prince said she’s gotten much more positive feedback from her unusual decision than negative. She said any negative reaction she’s heard — and truly, she’s not going out of her way to listen to it or read it — is because “people are uninformed about it.”

Following Rutgers’ season, in which the Scarlet Knights bowed out in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament, she said her uncle and her AAU coach, Apache Paschal, began fielding inquiries from teams overseas, interested in the explosive 5-foot-9 guard with serious offensive talent.

Prince averaged 19.5 points a game for the Scarlet Knights last season, scoring at last 20 points in 16 games.

Prince said she began thinking hard about how much an overseas contract — many top players make six-figure salaries in Europe — could help her family, which still resides in a Brooklyn housing project. She wants to give them a better life.

“I went back and forth. It’s not like I have anything against Rutgers. It’s hard for me to want to leave them, but I had to do what’s best for me and my family.”

She said she got her family’s approval before making her final decision to leave college with a year of eligibility remaining. Then she had to tell Stringer, who wasn’t involved in Prince’s decision until it was made.

“She was mad, but at the same time, she understood why I had to do it,” Prince said. “But I know she will always have my back, no matter what. I just have to do what I have to do.

“I knew it was time for me to go and try something. I’m excited to start something new in my life.”

Stringer, inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame recently, told the New York Times that Prince’s decision represents “progress.”

“Progress is any time you have a choice. We didn’t have choices before,” Stringer said to the Times. “I would hope in the future our choices are that we continue to stay and get an education. On the other hand, the continued evolution of progress is going to be where you don’t have to stay because you can make so much money.”

Prince said she is within just a handful of credits for graduation with a double-major in criminal justice and African-American studies after taking summer classes. She will take some online classes to complete her degree. She said she plans to don a cap and gown at Rutgers’ graduation ceremony next spring.

“That’s what my mom wants, she wants a picture of me,” Prince said.

Prince sealed her fate as a professional last month when she signed with the Wasserman agency and agent Linsday Kagawa, who also represents Diana Taurasi and Candice Wiggins, among others.

She will sign a contract with a team overseas in the near future, but her plans are not finalized. Her uncle will join her wherever she goes to help the 21-year-old settle in.

Prince is working on becoming the best defensive player she can be before heading overseas.

“That is what separates a lot of players,” Prince said.

Prince said she is not concerned about her status for the 2010 WNBA Draft, where she will likely be a top pick. She is eligible for the WNBA Draft because she will be 22 in January. She said her No. 1 concern was her family.

But honing her game overseas could help solidify her position with WNBA rosters cut to 11 this season and many top college players cut earlier this summer as a result of fewer spots.

“I’ve got to earn money overseas and I’ve got to establish myself,” Prince said.

Prince said she has no regrets, is not looking back to the things she might be missing as a college basketball player.

“Every time I wake up I feel better about it,” Prince said.

We will revisit this and follow how Epiphanny does closely.  Many players, families, coaches and agents will track the results of this decision.  I would imagine it will impact future players decisions.  If she is able to finish her degree on-line, sign a top level contract overseas and provide for her family – it all works out perfectly.  If she never finishes her degree, if she does not sign for a 6-figure contract and she is injured or does not play well then people will always second guess her.  You have to respect her and give her credit for researching the situation, having a plan and the courage to face the challenges.  Let’s pray it works for her and her family.

as originally reported on FANHouse, with contributions from the NY Times

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