FORT WAYNE – A coaching change in Florida affected basketball in Indiana.
After Amanda Butler was fired from her women’s basketball head coaching position at the University of Florida this past season, Homestead’s Karissa McLaughlin had to make a decision. The state champion, who had committed to play for Butler and the Gators, decided to be released from her commitment and has chosen to now play for head coach Sharon Versyp and the Purdue Boilermakers.
McLaughlin, who led the Spartans to the Class 4-A state championship over Indianapolis Pike this season, was recently named the Gatorade Indiana Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She, along with Dana Evans of Gary West and Madison Wise of Greenfield-Central, are among the three in the running for Indiana Miss Basketball, which will be announced on April 27. Evans is a Louisville recruit and Wise is an Iowa State recruit.
McLaughlin averaged 25.9 points per game and did just about everything for the Spartans, including dropping 29 points in the championship game against Pike. After choosing to back out of her commitment following a visit with current Florida head coach Cameron Newbauer, McLaughlin kept Florida on the list but added Purdue, Michigan and Indiana as potential landing spots. McLaughlin made the decision to go to Purdue official Monday morning.
“I feel like those are the people I really want to surround myself with,” McLaughlin said in an interview with GoldandBlack.com. “I feel like the future is really bright for Purdue. With the surge that they made at the end of the season, that just shows how great this team could be and how great they will be.”
McLaughlin has strong local ties to the Warsaw community. Her mother Sheila (Whitaker) played basketball at WCHS. Her father Bert was a standout player at Grace College from 1993-97 and was also on the JV boys basketball coaching staff at WCHS during the 1997-98 season. He later was also the girls basketball head coach at Churubusco, Central Noble and East Noble high schools.
McLaughlin is the second major recruit from Homestead to play for Purdue in recent years, joining national Player of the Year candidate Caleb Swanigan from the men’s team. Swanigan, a 2015 Homestead graduate who won a state title his senior season, led the Boilers to a Big Ten regular season championship and a berth in the Sweet 16 during the NCAA Tournament.