Wasting no time, Mountlake Terrace High School basketball standout Samantha Romanowski took advantage of the National Letter of Intent early signing period that opened this week and made the commitment to attend the University of Denver and play basketball for the Pioneers.
Romanowski averaged more than 18 points per game as a junior last season for the Mountlake Terrace Hawks, leading the squad to an 18-6 record and a berth in the regional round of the 3A Girls State Basketball Tournament. The 5-foot-10 forward was named to the AP Washington All-State team, was the co-Wesco League 3A Player of the Year, and was highly sought by a number of collegiate basketball programs.
Interest in Romanowski had slowed some after she suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) last summer while playing for a select team, but the senior had already visited a few college campuses prior to the injury. The University of Denver soon became one of her favorites.
“I knew after she visited last year that they were her top choice – and they stuck with her through her injury,” said Mountlake Terrace girls basketball Coach Zach Wilde. “If the injury didn’t happen, I am sure there were a few higher schools who would have wanted her. But at the end of the day, she’s a great player and going to do well at Denver.”
Romanowski was to have been a two-sport athlete for Terrace this year, but the ACL injury forced her to miss this fall’s girls soccer team season – Romanowski would have played on the defensive back line – and will keep her from playing basketball this winter. Instead she has spent the past few months in rehabilitation and has just started some light running in an effort to get her knee back into playing shape.
“She is ahead of schedule on her rehab,” Wilde said.
While Romanowski won’t be on the court for the Hawks this season, she will still play a role for the girls’ team serving as a captain and assisting with some coaching duties.
Even though she will miss a full year of play, Wilde believes Romanowski can return to the form that made her a much-pursued college recruit and can help a University of Denver Pioneers program that has had some lean seasons lately. “She can lead them to the NCAA tournament and be one of the best scorers in (their) league, and maybe further,” Wilde said.
The Pioneers play NCAA Division I basketball in the Summit League and are coached by Kerry Cremeans. The team finished 9-23 last year after going 14-17 in 2012-13. In 40 years of women’s basketball, the Pioneers have made only one appearance in the NCAA Tournament, in 2001.
– By Doug Petrowski