Lady Hornet signs letter of intent

Bryant senior Abbi Stearns signed a letter of intent Thursday to attend and play basketball for Central Baptist College in Conway.

Stearns has been a member of the Bryant varsity team for the past three years and started the past two. She said playing for the Lady Hornets has been a “real experience.”

Last week, Stearns was named to the 2011 7A Central All-Conference Team, which she also made last year as a junior. As this year’s lone senior, she led the Lady Hornets in rebounds, averaging eight per game. She led the team in rebounds as a junior, too.

The Lady Mustangs compete in the National Christian College Athletic Association. After a 14-16 season, as an independent CBC made its way to the finals of the 2011 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Conference Tournament in Gary, Ind. The Lady Mustangs also made it to the NCCAA Tournament semifinals.

Stearns, who said she was drawn to CBC because of its campus, wants to be a dental hygienist, so she plans to major in either chemistry or biology.

Bryant head coach Blake Condley said, “She’s been a joy to have on the team.”

Because of her rebounding and shot-blocking ability, Condley said Stearns’ scoring, which averaged among the team’s top three both years, “gets overlooked sometimes.”

“She has a knack for the ball. It’s things that just can’t be taught,” he said. “As a coach, you just stay out of her way and let her do her thing."

CBC Lady Mustangs head coach Lyle Middleton said Stearns was attractive as a recruit because “she’s a kid that’s 5’10, mobile, strong, can handle the basketball and has mid-range shooting, but also can rebound.”

Middleton said, “She has a lot of natural ability, and that’s what we’ve talked about for now and over the summer: She’s going to have to get that fire up.

“This is college. This game is a lot bigger and faster. The size of the kids and the positions they play are totally different.”

Middleton said Stearns, who has played forward for the Lady Hornets, will eventually play guard under his system at CBC.

“She’ll be a forward coming in ... but we’re going to make a transition,” he said. “We’re going to progress her shooting and ball handling a little toward more of a bigger guard, depending on the defense.”

Condley said, “I think she’ll be able to step in and have an immediate impact next year.”

He said, “Maybe I’m a little partial, but I don’t think there’s anybody who’s going to rebound the way she does.”