Scranton Prep’s perfect season was halted early in March and the AAU season that normally would have immediately followed was placed on hold because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Rachael Rose was left to wonder what was next.
The answers have gradually come to the NEPA Elite Clark 17U point guard, culminating in a chance to celebrate a milestone in her basketball career today.
By June, Rose’s college recruiting was heating up. By July, she was on the court with the new AAU team out of Riverfront Sports in Scranton. And, by August, she had a full college scholarship with today’s verbal commitment to accept an offer from the University of South Carolina Upstate, a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I school coached by 2008 Abington Heights graduate Becky Burke.
“In the beginning of June and July, AAU was up in the air and questionable and I knew that could set me back with recruiting,” said Rose, who leads the 11-1 NEPA Elite Clark team in points and assists. “I just stayed positive throughout the whole thing.
“Luckily, it worked out and we’re still playing in tournaments. I love my team. We’re getting along so well and we’re playing so well together.”
Rose, who is heading into her senior year of high school, joins AAU and high school teammate Cecelia Collins as committed Division I players. Collins agreed to an offer from Bucknell University this summer.
Each received their first scholarship offers immediately after the team was able to play its first event of the summer.
“It’s very clear that one of her strong suits is being able to run an offense, run a system,” said Kevin Clark, NEPA Elite founder and the head coach of the team Rose plays on. “She’s a true floor general. She makes the right plays. She has a really high basketball IQ.
“I couldn’t be happier for her, for coach Burke down at Upstate and the Rose family.”
Scranton Prep went undefeated in 2019-20 with Rose landing second-team Class 4A all-state honors from state sports writers and District 2 Player of the Year from NEPABasketball.com.
That success has continued into the summer. Rose is shooting 51.9 percent from the floor, 41.9 percent on 3-pointers and 79.2 percent from the line while averaging 9.9 points and 3.1 assists.
Between seasons, Rose, a second-team Class 4A all-state choice for her play at Scranton Prep, began hearing from Burke, who is entering her first full year at the school.
“My Dad (Tim) used to tell me about her and when I would go to Abington, I would see her name on the wall,” Rose said. “I knew who she was as a player and always knew her as a great player.
“In early June, she started talking to me about playing for her. We just had this immediate connection. We have very similar personalities.”
Rose plans to major in physical therapy. She had been in contact with other major college programs and had planned other recruiting visits, but the trip to South Carolina Upstate was the only one she actually made.
“I was supposed to go on some visits this summer, but obviously a lot of things got shut down because of corona,” Rose said. “I was talking to other schools, but I was just so confident about this and my relationship with coach Burke was just so much further advanced than every other coach I was talking to.
“So, I just knew this was the place for me. … I fell in love with the school when I was there.”
Rose is a 1,000-point career scorer at Scranton Prep where she averaged 19.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.4 steals as a junior. She shot 50 percent from 3-point range and 86 percent from the line for the Classics, who have won the Lackawanna League Division 1 and District 2 Class 4A titles in each of her three seasons.
“She has the ability to hit a 3-point shot and she has a tremendous ability for her size to get to the basket and draw fouls,” he said. “What she has been able to do through her three years with us is she has really developed that court vision that is so necessary for a point guard.
“She has that understanding of where people are supposed to be so that she can get them the ball with an opportunity score.”