After two outstanding seasons of basketball at Umpqua Community College, Taylor Stricklin is looking forward to the next phase of her playing career.
The 20-year-old, a 2017 graduate of Sutherlin High School, will take her talents to Eastern Oregon University, an NAIA school in La Grande.
The Mountaineers are a member of the Cascade Collegiate Conference along with Corban, Oregon Tech, Southern Oregon, College of Idaho, Warner Pacific, Northwest, Multnomah, Northwest Christian, Walla Walla and Evergreen.
“I’m excited. Now I know what I’m doing and (my decision’s) out of the way,” Taylor Stricklin said Thursday. “This will be my first time out of the area ... I’m a little nervous to be isolated, but I’ll have my teammates and coaches and am excited to branch out and do something new.”
EOU is coached by Anji Weissenfluh, who’s guided the program for 19 years and owns a 437-149 record. The Mountaineers won the CCC title last season and lost in the second round of the NAIA national tournament, finishing 29-4 overall.
Taylor Stricklin also talked to Division I Boise State, Fresno State and Utah Valley and DII Alaska Anchorage, but chose to remain in Oregon. Academically, the 4-point student is going into nursing.
“First of all, (EOU) is sort of close to home,” Taylor Stricklin said. “It allows my parents to come watch me play once in a while. It’s been such a family affair for us ... it would be weird to not have them around at all. I like small towns and (La Grande) is a little more desert, but reminds me a lot of Sutherlin.
“I really liked the (EOU) girls and the coach on my visit. The team reminded me a lot of our team at UCC, the way their dynamics are on and off the court. It’s a successful program that wants to win and excel, and I see myself easily adjusting into their program.”
Taylor Stricklin, a 5-foot-11 guard, played for her father, Dave, and helped UCC win 59 of 66 games during her time with the program. The Riverhawks finished second in the Northwest Athletic Conference tournament both years, falling to Walla Walla 90-74 in 2018 and losing to Wenatchee Valley 74-70 this year.
Taylor Stricklin, the lone sophomore on the 2018-19 squad, was selected the South Region player of the year and made the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Two-Year College Coaches’ All-America team.
She led the NWAC in scoring (24.0 points), minutes played (1,236) and 3-point field goals (136), and also averaged 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. She shot 46% from the field, 39% from 3-point range and 77% from the free-throw line.
Taylor Stricklin will leave UCC as its all-time leader in scoring (1,318 points) and 3-point field goals (209). She set the season record for most 3-pointers.
“I loved going to a community college,” Taylor Stricklin said. “I was able to develop my skills that’ll help me at the next level. I think I’m a thousand percent better of a player than I was in high school, it made me a better leader and teammate.
“Losing in the championship game two years in a row was hard, but both years we accomplished a lot — especially this year. Making it that far wasn’t expected of us. It does stink we lost that (last) game, but we proved a lot and doesn’t detract from the season we had.”