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North's Whitted picks Penn State

File Photo North Gwinnett's Peyton Whitted shoots a basket during a game this past season.

File Photo North Gwinnett's Peyton Whitted shoots a basket during a game this past season.

In the end, Peyton Whitted decided to go with her first instinct.

With one member of its rising senior class already committed to a major Division I college program for years, another member of the North Gwinnett girls basketball team's class of 2013 also has secured her college future.

The 6-foot-3 forward made a non-binding verbal commitment to play at Penn State last Monday, making her the second member of the Bulldogs' rising senior class to make an early college decision.

She joins longtime Maryland commitment Lexie Brown in picking a big-time college program before her senior school year even begins.

"I've liked (Penn State) since last summer," Whitted said. "I went through the recruiting process as thoroughly as I could. Now I can focus on winning a state championship (at North) this year."

Whitted's decision is pretty much on the timetable she relayed to Bulldogs coach Bryan Sellers last season.

"We talked during the last year and she'd been getting (scholarship) offers for a while," Sellers said of Whitted, who chose the Lady Lions from among a list of finalists that included Virgnia, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Georgia Tech. "Her goal was to make a decision by the end of the summer. She had offers from so many different schools."

In addition to her finalists, Whitted also received offers from Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Auburn and Marquette, and she even paid a recent visit to Tennessee.

The attention from so many schools was not surprising after Whitted averaged 12.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a junior this past season to earn second-team all-county honors from the Daily Post.

She was also a major force in the Bulldogs' run to the Class AAAAA state semifinals, their first Final Four appearance since 1963, by averaging 14.8 points and 10 boards during the state playoffs.

Whitted sees a Penn State program that won the Big Ten's regular season championship and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season -- including the Lady Lions' first Sweet 16 berth since 2004 -- as a good fit.

"The academics there are just awesome," the Bulldogs' versatile forward said. "Coach (Coquese) Washington is building a great program. ... I know she'll make me a better player.

"The team is really close together, and I want to be on a team where everyone kind of clicks."