FARGO — The head girls basketball coach at Grand Rapids (Minn.) High School has gotten the question a couple of times in the past 24 hours: Why would the team’s sophomore guard commit to a college so early?
Kristine Hamling has two roles when it comes to that. She’s also Taryn Hamling’s mother.
“The answer is if you know where you want to be, why prolong it?” Kristine said.
Where Taryn is going to be is North Dakota State, where in 2023-24 she’ll join her sister Heaven Hamling at NDSU. Heaven Hamling sat out last season after transferring from Stephen F. Austin (Texas) and has three years of eligibility remaining.
Heaven has four seasons to play with NDSU because the NCAA ruled this season does not count toward a college athlete's five-year clock because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“She hears what her older sister is saying and the camaraderie they all have and she likes that,” Kristine said. “She made the connection with the coaches, that made her feel welcome and comfortable and she knew right away this is where I see myself fitting in.”
Taryn, a 5-foot-9 guard with shooting range that extends beyond the 3-point line, also had phone calls from Illinois State, South Dakota State and the University of St. Thomas, Kristine said.
Taryn averaged 13.5 points per game as a freshman last season. As a sophomore this year, she’ll be the Thunderhawks’ most experienced returning player.
As a seventh-grader, she played sparingly on varsity when Heaven was a senior at Grand Rapids and the sisters played together a bit toward the end of a game.
“I think it’s going to be fantastic, Heaven deep down wants Taryn out there,” Kristine said. “And knowing the older one is there, it makes a parent feel more relaxed that there will be family taking care of her.”
The early commitment means a recruiting process of a Division I player that often extends into their junior season if not beyond is now over. It means recruiting video is not necessarily a big thing anymore for Taryn, whose freshman highlights on hudl.com include several 3-point shots from college-like distance.
Her head coach is OK with that.
“Every girl that plays for me, they have the green light to shoot if they’re a good player,” Kristine said. “So many times she doesn’t look where she’s at, she’s played on so many courts where the 3-point line is further out. Heaven also had quite the range. But there are times I’ve told Taryn that if we’re ahead, it’s probably not the right shot we want to take. If we want to get an inside look, that’s not the shot we want to take.”