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Feb. 6, 2007

by Cathy Bongiovi

On January 10, Lauren Carson’s dream of playing collegiate basketball became a reality. Head coach Debbie Ryan announced Carson as the newest Cavalier, a position the 5-6 guard from Alpharetta, Ga., earned after a tryout.

A three-year letterwinner at Chattahoochee High School, Carson averaged 12.0 points per game as a senior team captain. In 2004 during her sophomore season, Chattahoochee was ranked No. 3 nationally and No. 1 in the state of Georgia. Carson played along side Lindsey Moss, considered the top high school guard prospect who now plays at Georgia. While she had scholarship offers to play at other schools, Carson opted for Virginia for academics. The honor student had her heart set on UVa.

“I came here for basketball camp about four years ago, and I just loved the campus, the atmosphere, and the people,” she said.

The oldest of four, Carson began playing basketball when she was 10.

“I went to a high school camp, and I was the only girl in my age range, ” Carson said. “So I was playing with all guys. I was good, and I was having an amazing time. I just never stopped playing.”

As a true freshman this year, Carson kept playing basketball on Grounds last fall.

“I was actually playing club basketball,” Carson said. “It ended up that UVa needed an extra player. I was asked to tryout, and I did. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tryout. And I’m here today.”

“We are very pleased that Lauren Carson has joined our team,” Ryan said. “She adds depth at the guard position. She’s very athletic, and she’s an excellent defender.”

While adjusting to her new team, the mid-season addition has been fully accepted by the players.

“It’s more than I could have asked for,” Carson said.

Virginia has had tremendous success with walk-ons in recent years. Junior Tara McKnight has been a Cavalier for two seasons. She not only worked her way on the team and into the hearts of fans, but she earned the respect of her teammates, a feat that blossomed into her election as team captain.

“Lauren’s been a great addition to the team,” McKnight said. “She’s enthusiastic, and she doesn’t mind speaking up to encourage others in the team. It helps in practice to have another voice and another body.”

McKnight also shared some words of wisdom with the new Cavalier.

“I told her `Just be confident’,” McKnight said. “You`ve got to go out there and do your best everytime.”

The daughter of Dr. Eric Carson, the team’s physician, Carson has learned what most first-year students do- how to live on her own.

“No one can tell you what to do or how to do it anymore,” Carson said. “Basically the foundations have already been instilled in you, you just have to put it together now, know what you have to do, and do it to the best of your ability.”

When she’s not on the court or at class, Carson spends time with her family.

“I like hanging out with my little brother and sister and taking them shopping,” Carson said. “Shopping is my favorite thing to do. I’m a shopaholic.”

She also likes to cook.

“I have a favorite restaurant- Flaming Wok,” Carson said. “I’m obsessed with Hibachi. I want to be a Hibachi chef one day.”

In uniform since for seven games, Carson waited until Sunday’s Miami game for an opportunity to take the court for the first time.

“Lauren is very proud to be a part of this team, and she deserves the right to get out there and show what she can do,” Ryan said. “I was really pleased to be able to get her out there, especially in an ACC game; that means more to these players, it really does. These players work hard every day behind the scenes; they do their job. Every day they are ready and prepared. She’s a good little defensive player, a good athlete.”

A psychology major, Carson’s plans for basketball next year are unclear.

“I have no idea. I’m doing day-to-day right now, and we’ll see what happens,” Carson said.

Out of Bounds with Lauren Carson

Food: Hotdogs
Junk Food: Snowcaps
Ice cream: StrawberryColor: Purple
Movie: Love & Basketball
Actor: Will Smith
Actress: Sanaa Lathan
TV Show: 24
Reality Show: American Idol
Spot on Grounds: My dorm room
Pregame ritual: pray
Basketball Drill: Knock out

Most embarrassing song on my iPod …
Spice Up Your Life by the Spice Girls

My advice to a young athlete is …
have fun

Best thing about being a Cavalier is …
being with the players

One thing I always pack for road trips is …
a picture of my mom

I chose Virginia, because …
it’s the best school ever!

My goals for the season are …
to have fun and work hard

Best thing I like about John Paul Jones Arena is …
I can easily get lost.

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