WKU basketball recruit Gooch bounces back from knee injuries with strong summer

Cole Claybourn

This story was originally published Aug. 20, 2010.

Despite being a potential risk after two knee surgeries, Western coach Mary Taylor Cowles isn’t letting that stop her from pursuing Franklin-Simpson senior star Chastity Gooch.

In fact, Franklin-Simpson coach Lex Lindsey said Cowles isn’t even worried about the surgeries and has said that Gooch is her “No. 1 priority” for the 2011 recruiting class. Cowles has already extended Gooch a scholarship offer.

 “That’s a great compliment because a lot of schools won’t make that statement,” he said.

Gooch’s two surgeries stemmed from the same injury, one she suffered two years ago.

The first surgery was to repair torn cartilage in her knee, and the second was to clear out bone chips and swelling that occurred later.

“She’s fine now,” Lindsey said. “There’s no swelling or anything now. She’s 100 percent.”

She erased any doubts about that this past July at the AAU National Championships in Orlando, Fla., and showed just why Cowles is so interested in her.

After being cleared to play just three days prior to the tournament, Gooch was named an AAU All-American based on her play throughout the event.

“That was a great honor for her to be named among the top five or six players in a tournament with nearly 80 teams competing, especially after just coming off knee surgery,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey said Gooch has an advantage with her 6-foot frame in high school because she’s able to cause matchup problems with smaller defenders, but said she’ll have to adjust once she gets to college.

“She’ll be out on the floor facing the basket, most likely at the three (small forward) position,” he said. “She’s really good at getting the ball to the rim from 15 feet. If they do put smaller players on her, she can take them down low and post them up, so she’s a nice combo player at the high school level.”

Lindsey said Gooch isn’t limited to just post or wing play, either, and can handle the ball well.

“When we’re getting pressed by really good teams, she becomes the point guard because she can see over everyone. She just brings a lot of versatility to the floor.”

Lindsey said that versatility is another big reason why Gooch remains high on Cowles’ list.

And with Cowles so interested, Lindsey said Gooch seems to be reciprocating the feelings.

“She’s very interested in Western,” Lindsey said. “She hangs out with those girls and plays basketball with them, and she and coach Cowles have a nice relationship. I think that’s where she’s the most comfortable.”

But right now it’s just a matter of letting the time play out until she makes her decision, which should be during the November signing period, Lindsey said.

Aside from Western, she also has scholarship offers from the University of Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State, and Austin Peay.

Lindsey also said Oklahoma has shown significant interest in her and sent coaches to several of her games last season.

“She’s just waiting to make a decision because she’s still weighing all of her options,” he said.