Bouldin makes mark in freshman season for UTC
by Andy Southard | July 17, 2017 6:36 am
A little over a year ago, Lakelyn Bouldin was spending her time on the court in Van Buren County High School helping lead the Van Buren County Eaglettes to their first-ever trip to the State Tournament.
Bouldin, a 2016 graduate of VBHS, came out of high school as one of the most prolific players to ever come out of VBHS. In her senior season, Bouldin was named Miss Basketball, District 6A MVP and Player of the year, Region 3A MVP, she was named to the All-State team, and she also set the school record for most points scored in a career with 2,948 career points. After doing all of that, in her freshman season at UTC, Bouldin has put her name as one of the top freshman players in UTC history. Bouldin burst onto the scene for the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Lady Mocs. Bouldin was third on the team in scoring and broke the school record for most threes as a freshman in a season.
When I asked Bouldin about her transition from high school basketball to college, she had this to say, “There are many differences between high school basketball and college basketball, so the transition was hard at first. Most of the girls I played against this year were better, tougher, and more physical than the girls that I played against at the high school level. I also had to adjust to the coaching style and the number of coaches. In high school, I played for my aunt and my mom, so I was just used to listening to them. However, in college, we have position coaches under coach Foster, so I had to adjust to listening to several different coaches. However, the biggest differences for me was the adjustment to the tempo of the game. However, the more I played and the more of a routine I got into, the rest just came together.”
Bouldin, who started in 29 of the Lady Mocs 32 games, averaged 10.4 points per game, and she made 64 threes this season, which is a school record. Bouldin also led the Lady Mocs in scoring in seven out of the teams’ 32 games.
When asked about her freshman season at UTC, Bouldin said, “I thought my first season at UTC went well. I feel like I have grown and matured as a ballplayer and a person. I was even able to break the record for three-pointers made in a season as a freshman. One thing I enjoyed about my freshman season was the ability to experience new places and to get to play against the great teams. Getting to play against some of the best teams in the nation like UConn, Notre Dame, Louisville, Indiana, and Florida made my season that much better. I grew up watching all of these teams play, and I have always said I would play against them one day, so living out a dream that I have had since I was a little girl was pretty amazing.”
At the end of the regular season, Bouldin found out she was named to the SoCon All-Freshman team. Bouldin was the 10th Chattanooga player to be named to the Southern Conference Coaches All-Freshman team. She hit double digits in points 20 times in her freshman campaign, and she helped lead the Lady Mocs to the #1 seed in the conference tournament.
In the tournament, Bouldin had double digits in two of the three games the Lady Mocs played. In the Lady Mocs semi-final matchup against UNCG, Bouldin had her biggest game of the tournament, scoring 16 points with three assists and was 3 of 4 from behind the arc. In the Championship game, Bouldin had 13 points. She was six of 12 from the field.
The Lady Mocs would win the Championship game over Mercer for their 18th Southern Conference Tournament title and fifth straight title. Lakelyn would be named to the Second-Team All-Tournament team and would get her first chance to play in the NCAA Tournament against the University of Louisville.
“Making it to the NCAA tournament was the best part of the season,” Bouldin said. “Even though we were hoping to win our first-round game against Louisville, it was still an excellent experience in a great atmosphere. I am just so thankful to be a part of a great basketball program, with great coaches and teammates. It was an honor to be able to play in the NCAA tournament. I have had so much support from so many people in Spencer and the surrounding area, and that has meant so much to me.”
In the NCAA Tournament, Bouldin led the Lady Mocs in scoring, with 16 points and was three of eight from behind the arc, but the Lady Mocs would fall to the University of Louisville 82-62 and would end their season with a record of 21-11. Bouldin would end the season with 64 threes, which was good enough for 10th on the Mocs single-season list.
This summer, Bouldin has been working hard and is looking to improve on her freshman season. When I asked her about next season, she said, “I am looking forward to this next season. I have tried to focus on sharpening up on my ball handling, quickening my shot release a little more, and just trying to improve my entire game overall.”
Bouldin also talked about the makeup of the team next year.
“I think our team will have a little different look this coming year, as we lost six players due to graduation and transfers,” she said. “We have five freshmen coming in, but expectations are just as high as usual. We have a very tough schedule for this next year, so we are already working hard this summer to prepare for the season. Our goal is to win another Southern Conference title and make it past the first round of the NCAA tournament.”
In her second season, Bouldin will look to improve on an already impressive freshman season and try to win another SoCon Conference title.