Maya won't let adversity shake her

Every incoming freshman to every college athletic program wants to make an impact. On the athletic field.

Unfortunately those kids sometimes make the headlines in other ways before they even have a chance to step on the field or court. Maybe their grades and SAT test scores are questioned or they get in trouble with the law, both all-too common occurrences.

In those two cases, the student-athlete typically has some control of his or her fate in the public eye. Stay out of trouble with the police and don't cheat on the SAT, and your first publicity in college will be athletic, not scandal related.

That's why what has happened this summer with 2007 Collins Hill grad Maya Moore is a shame. You know her, arguably the best girls basketball player Georgia has ever produced. Two-time Naismith national player of the year.

Because she was such a phenomenal athlete and exceptional basketball player, every college basketball program in the nation wanted her, including two of the best, Connecticut and Tennessee. Both schools made her final list before she eventually chose the Huskies.

The recruiting battle for Moore was waged and won long ago, yet it has become the subject of much discussion this summer as she prepares for her freshman season at UConn. It has thrown her name into the middle of the heated UConn-Tennessee women's basketball rivalry, unfairly plastering it into the headlines for something not basketball-related.

Volunteer head coach Pat Summitt announced this summer that her team would no longer play a regular-season game vs. Connecticut. That led to speculation of why and the focus turned to Moore after someone from the SEC reportedly sent questions to the NCAA regarding Connecticut's recruiting of the Collins Hill star, but nothing ever came of it. The story, covered well by the Hartford Courant, included questions that former UConn All-Americans Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird gave Moore a ride to the 2006 Naismith Awards (both Taurasi and Bird have denied doing so).

It doesn't appear any deeper investigation will happen, but it's sad that Moore is in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

Luckily, she is the right kid to handle the scrutiny - mature beyond her years and accustomed to frequent interviews by the media.

Hopefully everyone will get past the recruiting situation in the near future and allow the 18-year-old what she deserves, a chance to make news on the basketball court.

Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at will.hammock@gwinnett

dailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays.