CHEYENNE – Gabi O’Connor could have played another season of basketball at Laramie County Community College.
She could have spent another season lighting up Region IX competition with the hope of catching the eye of more four-year schools.
Instead, O’Connor made the decision that made the most sense for her academically and athletically and signed a letter of intent with NCAA Division II Western Colorado University on Friday.
“I want to always grow and get better, and I think this is the next step in that,” the Colorado Springs, Colorado, product said. “If this opportunity hadn’t come along, I would have been happy coming back to LCCC, but this was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
O’Connor has accumulated enough credits during her two seasons at LCCC to earn her associate degree in business. She will pursue a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship at Western Colorado.
The 5-foot-7 guard was an All-Region IX North selection this past season, averaging 15.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists across 30 games. O’Connor broke the 20-point mark seven times to help the Golden Eagles go 19-12.
“She had enough credits to graduate, so it’s in her best interest to graduate and move on,” third-year LCCC coach Brian Ortmeier said. “She can play for three years at Western if she wants to, maybe get her bachelor’s done and start pursuing grad school.
“We would have loved to have her back, but it’s in her best interest to make this move.”
O’Connor missed the entirety of her first season at LCCC after suffering a broken foot while playing in a late-night pickup game with teammates.
O’Connor made 37.7% (171 for 454) of the shots she took from the field, and 34.3% (70 of 204) from behind the 3-point line. O’Connor also made 79.7% of her shots from the free-throw line (55 for 69).
“They are getting a very versatile and talented point guard and shooting guard, who can play a couple different spots,” Ortmeier said. “She has great quickness and can really take care of the basketball. We averaged right around 11 turnovers per game because we had such great point guard play this year.
“Gabi was a big part of that because she can really control a game, get you into your sets and offense, score and also defend.”
Western Colorado went 16-11 this past season after going 9-19 the previous year.
“This is the school, coach and team that’s going to push me to success and help me become the best player and student I can be,” O’Connor said. “I think my style of play really fits what they do, and I am looking forward to being part of their success going forward.”